Even under prime environmental conditions muskies can still be very temperamental and difficult to catch for a wide variety of reasons. Angling and boating pressure are two of the top reasons why I feel that muskies bite “short” and act finicky during the mid-summer period. Replacing your hooks often, and making sure your points are razor sharp, is still just not enough at times to keep them hooked when they are nipping and this can be mentally fatiguing when you’ve been casting for many hours. Long periods of time often goes by between strikes and when you do get a shot under tough conditions, everything must go your way in order to score.
In this episode Tyler and I are on the grind, working hard to rustle up any muskie activity and when we finally get one to move, she nips short in the figure-8 and gets off quickly. I shook it off, replaced my hook, and kept on casting and just a few minutes later I lost yet another, even larger musky in the figure-8. The second musky went airborne in an angle that made it very hard to control her and to make things worse the treble was initially hooked in the side of her jaw. All in all, this scenario made it extremely difficult to keep this fish pinned and she got away with a gorgeous aerial jump.
Some of the best muskie fishing advice I have ever gotten on how to deal with these challenging situations was given to me by my good friend Joe Bucher years ago while on a Canadian film trip. I had lost a big musky after a long fight and I was pretty upset. Joe turned to me and said, “When you get knocked down, you get up and you go THAT MUCH HARDER.” It was difficult to fully understand then, in the wake of losing such a giant, but in time I took it to heart and it has changed the way I approach difficult situations in muskie fishing. No matter how good you are, you are not going to catch every single one of them, even when you do everything correctly!!
So after losing muskie number two, Tyler and I put the pedal down and focused our positive muskie attitudes on putting a fish in the boat. We had been knocked down twice but it was time to kick some butt. After traveling a short distance down from where I had just lost muskie two, Tyler got a musky to follow his TopRaider and with a perfectly executed figure-8, he was hooked up and we had a touchdown!
Working on your mental toughness is an important part of growing as an angler and it will help you put more muskies in the boat over the course of the season. Less time sulking and more time spent focusing on your strategy and casting will make a huge difference in your upcoming season. The 500 Buchertail tinsel is the ultimate downsizer bucktail spinner for triggering muskies into striking under tough conditions. For more information about the 500 tinsel series, including the pink “Elton John” version I am throwing in this episode.