Musky America Magazine July 2024 Edition

Musky America Magazine July 2024 Edition Thank you for visiting Musky America Magazine! It is our pleasure to continue to bring informative articles to our fellow Musky anglers. In this edition, you will find articles meant to help with tactics that may help you find success on the water. The best thing about my magazine is that it is free to view. You will find links to some resorts and services. The links are contained in a separate area under advertisements. I do this so that the article focus is free from annoying distractions. The magazine will automatically format for any viewing medium, so you can access the information whether you are at home or on the go. Craig Sandell Owner and Fellow Musky Angler The Icons shown here are at the bottom of the Magazine pages. All Rights Reserved © 2024

WHERE DO THE MUSKY GO? Craig Sandell © 2013 During the course of the Muskie season, the weather can be your Muskie fishing partner or your enemy. Previous Musky seasons have shown us that when the weather does not cooperate the Muskie fishing will go into the toilet. Aside from rapid swings in barometric pressure, a rapidly moving cold front has probably the greatest effect upon Muskie activity. It doesn't take much of a cold front to turn Muskie off. Actually, a cold front is a double sided sword. As the cold front approaches and the weather becomes unstable, Muskie tend to put the feed bag on. If the weather is coupled with favorable moon conditions, the lucky Muskie angler can really tap into some great fishing. However, once the cold front comes through, things tend to change. The colder weather tends to put a stop to the insect hatches that bring forage fish into the shallows. As the forage fish move into deeper water, the Muskie will either follow the food or take up ambush positions in weedy cover waiting for the return of an

easy meal. The Muskie depicted in RED represent their positions prior to the cold front while the BLUE Muskie are shown in their likely positions after the cold front comes through and the wind shifts to a Northwesterly flow. Don't be discouraged…there are some things you can do to better your chances during this slack period. There are NO guarantees but you can try: • Fish hard from late afternoon to early evening when the water temperature is highest! • Cast your lures as close to cover as you can…You need to trigger these fish! • Fish 5 to 10 feet deeper than normal to overcome those Blue Bird Skies! • Visit your most productive Muskie spots; Don't explore! • Use Slightly smaller lures and/or slow your presentation! In Muskie fishing there are no sure things, however, if you use your knowledge of the water that you are fishing and combine it with knowing where Muskie are likely to be; you have a better chance at success.

Summer Is The Time Of Acute Musky Fever By Al Denninger © 2010 Musky Fever hits Hayward…Hundreds stricken…Tourists bring fever to area…No cure found, only temporary relief for victims…Only heavy doses of fishing can relieve this thing called MUSKY FEVER!!! Summer signals the start of the hot action for the King of the Freshwater Fish. Musky are spreading out and more likely to be on main-lake spots. Weed beds are reaching for the sky, and the water-ah! The water temperatures are reaching a steady 68-74 degrees. Musky are putting on the feed bag. Big females are starting to show up; this is the time of the season when musky action is at its best. There’s more fish action now than in any other month. September might see more trophy fish, but late June through early July is when the real action takes place. Below is a list of a few lakes to pound in the first few weeks of summer. Lake Winter: Lots of good action on this body of water. It has produced some big fish. Purple Bucktails on sunny days and yellow on overcast are the hot ticket in June and early July—both sporting brass blades. Chippewa Flowage: Bucktails are the best all-around bait choice. Many favor fluorescent or green blades with black hair. First work the weeds, concentrating on the edges. Key weed beds have deep water on two or three sides.

Surface baits are also a good choice. Creepers, Globes, Toppers and Water Thumpers are all in play. Lost Land Lake is usually solid weeds. Fish the open pockets. This lake is usually clear but can also be stained depending upon run off. Orange or purple Bucktails with gold blades are a good bet. Also, the Suick has been hot on this lake. Teal Lake always has dark water, and a brass or copper bladed Bucktail here seems to produce very well. For surface baits, globes, Hawg Wobblers, or water thumpers. Spider Lake - Spider Lake produces well on Bucktails with silver blades. You may also have good luck with Crane, Slammers, and HiFinn’s sidewinders with gold and/or silver prism tape added to the sides of these twitch-baits-using silver tape on clear water and gold on stained waters. MAXIMIZE YOUR TIME ON THE WATER After reading the first part of this article, you get the picture that Bucktails are the guides’ first choice, and with good reason. Bucktails search the water fast. The more water you cover in your allotted fishing time, the more likely you’ll put your offering in front of an active musky. Remember, these fish are active now; water temperatures are in the favorite range, and females have had ample time to recover from the rigors of spawning. Weed beds have matured enough to have fish set up feeding patterns. Many active Musky will return to the same weed beds to feed. When you locate a large fish, note time, wind direction, water

temperature, bait, etc. Try to return the next day to that particular weed bed at the same time using the same bait. I have also found that fish seem to have a three-day feeding cycle. I’d enjoy talking to anyone who has noticed the same pattern. TACKLE TIPS The question of line comes up often: mono vs. braided vs. spectra. No doubt about it, you’ll fool more fish on mono, but I dislike the stretch. I prefer Courtland Micron. The no-stretch factor is a big plus in burying the steel. The same can be said of lines like TUF line. If mono is the route you want to go, make sure you spool up with 25-30 pound test. Knots wear fast under constant casting pressure. For those anglers on Pig Patrol and for whom only 30 pound plus fish get your heart pumping, stick with Micron or spectra. Micron is pure white, but don’t let that keep you from trying it. TUF line is salt and pepper. Many braided line fishermen use black, but remember the old saying, "Use a black Bucktail, because fish can see black the best!" So why use black line? Well, whatever your views on equipment, enjoy your time on the water. Enjoy as Summer spreads the fishing fever. Good luck and tight lines.

Working Deep Wood Late Summer Flowage Tactics By John Myhre © 2001 Sure we all like to catch those super active Muskies in shallow water. But how about those days or even weeks in the mid to late summer when the shallows seem to be devoid of any Muskies, much less active ones? One could schedule fishing only during low light periods such as early morning, late evening, or even at night. Or wait for a nice stormy day, when active Muskies are sure to venture into the shallows. However, this approach obviously would leave an awful lot of time when we would not be fishing. Muskies are usually catchable under almost any light and weather conditions. It's just a matter of knowing where to look for them and what special tools it takes to catch them. One of the best choices in late summer is flowages. Many flowages have darker stained water that limits shallow weed growth. However deeper cover is present in the form of wood. This deep wood could be natural timber or man-made brush piles and fish cribs. In either case, deep wood cover can hold summer Muskies. WHICH WOOD?

Not all wood has the potential to hold 'em during the dog days. The very best potential wood protrudes well off the bottom and has plenty of branches or brush that provide good cover for baitfish. Generally speaking, wood located along or very near the original river channels or the deeper old lake basins in a flowage are most productive in summer. Deep water stump fields that are located inside sharp "S" bends in the river channel are also definite hotspots. Key Musky areas in flowages with deep wood are near old lake basins or river channels. Area A with wood on the inside of a bend in the river channel is particularly good. Deep wood in the form of manmade cribs, as in area B, along the channel or old lake basin are often under fished. Steep breaking shorelines (area C) with deep wood are also worth trying, especially later in the season. Man-made fish cribs are often untapped Musky producers in many flowages. Cribs are usually placed along deeper shorelines and river channels in areas that lack adequate natural wood cover. Cribs are often fished by panfish and walleye anglers but overlooked by most flowage Musky hunters. The fact is cribs not only attract baitfish, panfish, and walleye, but also Muskies.

"WOODY" PRESENTATIONS Productive wood may be as shallow as 6 to 10 feet in small flowages, or as deep as 25 to 35 feet in the larger, deeper flowages. Lure selection and presentation varies accordingly. In shallower flowages try lures that run in the top five feet of water like jerkbaits, bucktails, and shallow running crankbaits. Surface lures are a great choice now. In deeper flowages, diving lures and other deep runners usually produce bigger fish. Heavier single spinners or weighted straight shaft bucktails with willow blades and deep running crankbaits are some of the best choices. Jigs can be dynamite later on in the fall when fished around cribs that have a relatively clean bottom around them but are hard to use in areas with lots of wood since they snag up too easily. Hot lure colors seem to produce best in flowages with a characteristic stained water. I've had especially good results with chartreuse, hot orange, and red on nearly all the lures I fish in flowages. The best deep wood sticks up well above the bottom with lots of branches, roots, and brush to provide cover for baitfish. LIVE BAIT TAKES LATE SUMMER FLOWAGE MUSKIES, TOO

In some states, like Wisconsin, where you are allowed more than one line it's a good idea to run a live bait trailer in addition to casting an area. This will increase your chances of catching a big Musky. Live suckers in the 12 to 14 inch range rigged on quick strike rigs work well in this situation. The "wait 'til he swallows it" approach doesn't always work in heavily wooded flowages. The Musky simply has too much time in which to tangle your sucker rig around troublesome woody cover. Quick strike rigs enable one to set immediately. When running two sucker lines, rig one just a few feet below the boat for followers and run the other sucker so it floats just above the deep wood to avoid snags. FIGURE "EIGHTS" If you don't figure eight at the end of every cast when fishing over deeper stained flowage water, you may be missing out on a lot of Muskies. Most of the time, a Musky that follows in stained water will be just deep enough that you will not see it. A figure eight triggers these indecisive Muskies to strike. The next time the sun shines bright, and you just can't seem to find Muskies in the shallows, don't give up. Instead, head for a stained water flowage, find some deep wood, and fish it hard. It just might save the trip for you.

Making Sure Your Drag Works By Craig Sandell © 2014 Probably the most important tool of Musky fishing is your reel and the most important function of your reel is the drag system. When you are in the heat of a confrontation with a Musky, you must be able to “play” the fish. That means that you must be able to give it line to prevent straightening a hook and keep pressure on the Musky to prevent it from throwing a hook. Your reel’s drag system is an indispensable element to successfully boating a Musky. Musky anglers all have their own approach to using their reel to help them “play” a Musky. After a hook set, some anglers will back off the drag to allow the fish to take line while using the drag to keep pressure on the fish. Of course, using the reel in this manner requires that the reel drag system is “predictable”. The other approach to playing a Musky is to depress the free spool bar or button and thumb the reel to give the Musky line and keep the pressure on the fish. Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks. It should be noted that many Musky anglers use both approaches while fighting a Musky.

A simple trick to assuring that your line does not slip on the reel arbor during a battle is to wrap the arbor with a backing material. I have seen folks use first aid adhesive tape and electrical tape. Either seems to do the job. For those of you who are “old hands” at Musky fishing, you probably already know this. For those of you who are new to Musky angling, this is something that you may wish to incorporate when next you spool your reel with new line. Of course, if the drag on your reel is inconsistent or unreliable, no amount tape backing with help. Make sure that your reel is in good working order before you head out on the water. We Are All In This Together.

The RIGHT Time…The RIGHT Place By Craig Sandell © 2014 Weather is, by far, one of the most important factors to consider when you are on the hunt for Musky. Another important factor is history…I don’t mean what you learned in school but the history on the water you fish regularly. Keeping some kind of log or record of when fish were caught, the lure used, and the prevailing weather at the time can be an invaluable tool to success on the water. This July day started out as a blue bird day with very mild wind from the South. I got out on the water early and hit a steep solid wall of granite drop off hoping to find a fish suspended in 16 feet of water. The hot water temperature, 77°, made this approach as good a plan as any and I had observed a nice sized fish the day before haunting the area. A glide-bait was the lure of choice. I fished the spot for 40 minutes without results. A short motor trip and I was at my next spot…a point area adjacent to one of the flowage’s natural lakes. I fished the weeds hugging the drop off of the point as it plunged into deeper water using a bucktail that I bulged over the top of the weeds and back over deeper water. The spot looked great, and the wind was perfect to fish the spot clean but no one was home. The morning was heating up and I needed a breakfast break…I motored back to the trailer and hopped in the car for breakfast at the Village Kitchen in Radison. (The food is good…the price is right and the people who run the place are the best.)

During my breakfast break, the wind had decided to get ugly…the mild wind transformed into a 15 mph blow. I took a look at the water and decided that it would be prudent to take a break and wait for the wind to settle down. After a couple of hours, it became apparent that the wind was here to stay…indeed, it had bumped up to about 20 mph with gusts of 25 mph. I took out my log and looked for some history on fish caught with 20+ mph wind under blue bird skies and elevated water temperature. It didn’t take long to find a spot or two that would fit the weather, so I meandered my way down to the Indian Trail Resort bar and had a beer and a chat with the afternoon bar patrons. I then pushed off from the dock and headed out on the water that had become belligerent with 35 foot rollers and white caps. I pounded my way across the open expanse of water as I motored toward one of the spots from my Musky log. When I arrived, the wind was coming from the Southwest. In high wind, you have two choices…you can set up for a wind drift or two or three or you can face your boat into the wind using a bow mount trolling motor and cast with the wind over your target area. This day I chose the second approach, positioning my boat into the wind and using the wind to give me long casts over a stump hump that was submerged under 9 feet of water. I moved the boat into the wind to the deep water channel edge and then let the wind scoot me over the target area.

Note: Boat control is a combination of using the wind, varying trolling motor speed and casting accuracy…it isn’t easy but it gives you a better chance to "hover" cast an area with potential for a Musky. After a frustrating 15 minutes setting up the boat and dealing with some wind induced backlashes, I finally got into the casting groove…casting my bucktail over the target area and using a slow to moderate retrieve. It was another 20 minutes or so into covering the area when I saw the green flash of the side of a Musky as it stalked my lure. He came up from about 8 feet of water to attack my lure in about 3 feet as it was being retrieved. As I kept my retrieve steady, I saw the Musky’s white underside as he snapped the lure up in its gapping mouth…the fight was on. As is the case in many Musky hits, all I had to do was apply firm resistance as the fish set the hook on himself…he immediately went down, taking line off my reel. This was a good tussle and as the Musky breached the surface, he rocketed out of the water and performed a dolphin flip as he reentered his brown stained watery home. We ‘argued’ with each other for a few more minutes until I was able to manipulate him into the net that I had waiting for him. With the fish in the bag, it was time to free him from the lure, take a measurement, snap a photo and then set him free. The way this Musky was hooked demanded that I use my compound bolt cutter to cut the tips of the treble hooks to allow me to free the fish and protect myself as I reached in to take the fish from the net that I kept in the water to minimize the time that the Musky was separated from its oxygen supply.

This chunky Musky measured out at 37 inches and, from the body bulk, was probably around 14 pounds. I snapped a photo of the fish and then set about setting him free. Into the water he went as I supported him upright. I moved him rhythmically back and forth in the water trying to flush water over his gills to revive him. A few minutes later his tail muscles began to tense…A light tap on the head with my finger tips and a squeeze of the tail and he was on his way. I looked over the bottom of the boat that was littered with the aftermath of the battle. He had destroyed my Bucktail and my leader during the battle so I was going to have to re-shaft the lure and make myself a new leader but that is all part of Musky fishing. I motored back to Indian Trail Resort to register my catch, have a beer and a bump and then re-tool my tackle…Another adventure in my pocket and another entry in my Musky log. Tight Lines

The Quest For A Personal Best By Craig Sandell © 2014 As Musky anglers, we are members of a unique company of anglers. There is no doubt that we are obsessed with Musky fishing…We would have to be. We spend long hours and make significant money investments, all in pursuit of a fish that is hard to find and harder to catch. Musky fishing is the only sport I know where it is OK to fail…In fact, failure is expected. So what are we chasing when we are on the water? Is it fame or fortune or the admiration of the opposite sex? What is it that motivates us to do what we do? There are probably as many answers to this question as there are Musky anglers, but I believe that, in the final analysis, it is the quest for a personal best that motivates us. The exhilaration that comes with a Musky catch is the same whether the fish is 36 inches, 46 inches or 56 inches. The moment when the fish is safely in the net evokes a feeling that you don’t see when you watch a fishing show where anglers are fishing for bass. When we are in the throes of the culmination of a successful hunt, there is nothing else like it. In the past, many fine Musky anglers have managed to tie into some fish of memorable proportion, but the exhilaration at the time of their catch was no greater than that which each of us experiences at the time of our catches. It is only when we are not on the water that we get our obsession hijacked. Somehow Musky catches that

happened 50 or 60 years ago get renewed attention and many of us lose sight of what is really important…OUR personal best. History in any sport is somewhat important, but Musky angling history means very little to the angler who is pounding water for 10 to 12 hours a day. With purveyors of artificial controversy seemingly crawling out from under every rock, it is easy to become caught up in the heat of the artificial moment and forget that we are doing this not for fortune or glory but for the satisfaction that comes from the quest for a personal best. We will not find that by rehashing the events of the past. As next Musky season approaches…keep your eye on the quest for that personal best. Tight Lines

Why Aren’t We Catching World Record Musky? By Craig Sandell © 2024 Musky fishing is an enjoyable sporting endeavor, not to mention obsession. Like you, I am looking forward to the excitement of being on the water with the potential for a great Musky excursion; that is a feeling that all Musky anglers share. What could possibly throw a wet blanket over that anticipation? Well, for the past few years, we Musky anglers have been assaulted with articles and so called "analysis" that have sought to de-bunk the existing Musky World Records as recognized by the only two established and credible record keeping organizations. When you remove all of the personal attacks and "chest pounding" by Pete Maina and Larry Ramsell from what should have been an adult discussion about the issue, the basic argument put forward by them and fringe organizations can be distilled down to this: Since we are not catching World Record Class Musky today…The catches of the past must have all been fake…(That is a foolish pronouncement of absolutism!).

I present for your consideration the following observations; Musky fishing back in the late 1940’s has little or no relationship to the Musky fishing that we do today. Back then Musky fishing pressure was non-existent when compared to the fishing pressure of today. Back then boats were powered by motors with limited horse power…today we see everything from 50 to 220 horse power. Back then guiding meant that someone would be on the oars quietly working a spot until someone caught a fish and then the person who caught the fish would assume the oars while his boat mates tried their hand at raising and catching a Musky…Today we use comparatively noisy electric trolling motors. Back then, due to the lack of pressure and a quieter fishing approach, Musky patterns were less likely to be disturbed…Not so today. Back then natural strains of Musky inhabited Musky waters…Today, thanks to short sighted fishery policy in Wisconsin, fish with the potential for world record size have been bred out of the population. Add to these factors, the fact that most every fish caught was kept until around 1969 when catch and release began to take hold. Given all of this, it should not be a surprise that Muskies of world class size are not prominent among today’s Musky catches.

Forward thinking DNR’s, like that in Minnesota, have worked hard to re-establish the larger strain of Musky in the waters of the state and the results of that effort are increasingly evident each Musky season. As can be seen from the table below of average Musky growth, good fishery management is a long term investment that requires a long term commitment. Average Length (inches) of Muskellunge by Age and Sex Age (years) Immature Male Female 1 12 - - 2 17 - - 3 24 - - 4 26 - - 5 - 29 30 6 - 31 33 7 - 32 35 8 - 34 37 9 - 35 39 10 - 36 42 11 - 37 45 The table demonstrates that it takes 11 years on average for a fish to get to 45 inches. The table below lists 763 actual catches and indicates that at 45 inches a Musky is likely to be between 23 and 26 pounds.

Inches from left to right – Pounds from top to bottom. 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 6 6 7 19 9 1 8 9 13 10 1 9 8 16 9 2 10 19 20 3 11 1 22 26 8 12 1 30 17 9 1 13 1 3 7 25 13 2 14 1 1 2 17 16 6 6 15 1 4 23 19 7 4 1 16 1 6 16 16 3 17 1 9 22 14 2 18 1 25 22 9 19 1 3 18 12 4 20 1 6 24 11 1 21 1 7 11 22 3 5 8 1 1 23 6 12 4 3 24 2 3 5 25 4 3 1 1 26 1 6 3 2 27 1 2 1 28 1 1 1 29 2 1 30 1 2 2 32 1 1 33 1 34 2 2 35 1 1 38 1 39 1 40 1

There is no published data regarding the length to weight relationship for Musky older than 11 years, however the average growth per year is about 1 inch per year. That would appear to indicate that a 60+ inch musky would likely be around 25-29 years old. When you consider that predation, disease, forage base and catch related death are all factors that affect whether a Musky will live 29 years, it is not hard to conclude, by anyone without a personal agenda like Pete Maina and Larry Ramsell, that only a small number of Musky will ever attain world class size. The larger the body of water the less likely it is that an angler will tie into a world class Musky, assuming that one actually exists in that body of water, little less being able to successfully land a fish of that size. Given all of the aforementioned, it is no surprise that a world class size Musky is as elusive as winning big in Las Vegas. Pete Maina and Larry Ramsell, in their print articles and books, are obsessed with the events surrounding the exploits and successes of days long past that have nothing to do with YOUR success on the water. They appear to be more interested in selling their literary tripe and "picking your pocket" than giving you meaningful information that will translate to your success TODAY. In my opinion, we Musky anglers of today are better served by concentrating on doing the things that will make us better Musky anglers. Having the right tackle and competent tactics will go a long way toward achieving success on the water. Forget about World Records…chase your personal best...enjoy your time on the water. Tight Lines!

A New Face for the Musky Angler By: Craig Sandell © 2020 Dirty, odiferous, un-kept and obsessed…all descriptions of the Muskie angler on the prowl for this freshwater shark. We have all seen him…up before dawn and stumbling his way down to the dock, fishing poles and tackle box in hand. Setting out from the dock, his boat is consumed by the morning mist as he makes his way to the place where Muskie can be found. Now, some would find this description of the dedicated Muskie angler almost ‘romantic’. Truth be told, however, there is a high price paid by the Muskie angler for this narrowly focused pursuit of this single tenacious species…a price that is not only financial, but physical and emotional as well. Each year there has been a change in what has come to be known as the ‘typical’ Muskie angler. I noticed the change at Muskie Shows over the past few years. You are no longer fighting your way through the isles at Musky shows. The crush of Musky anglers has dwindled to a relative trickle a bit each year and they are somewhat better dressed, there are father/son duo’s and they seem to be more interested in finding someone who could put them on to a fish rather than discovering the tactics and methods that would allow them to find their own quarry.

Is this an aberration? No... Muskie shows in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota enforce the observation. What changed? Everything has changed. Today the ‘instant gratification’ syndrome of society has made its way to Muskie angling and with that attitude has emerged a new perception of the Muskie angling sport. Muskie are no longer exclusive to the Northern latitudes and can be found all across America. The modern Muskie angler is more disposed to ‘stay in his own backyard’ than to travel hundreds of miles to fish unless he can be ‘guaranteed’ a Muskie. Traditional Muskie resorts all over Wisconsin are seeing a change in their clientele from Muskie anglers to families on vacation. Fishing pressure for Muskie has, consequently, fallen off sharply. To traditional Muskie anglers like me, this is great…less competition on the water…less boat traffic in traditional Muskie areas and a more relaxed approach to the hunt. But what about the future? Will the sport of Muskie angling be relegated to the same category as deep sea marlin fishing, where day fishermen are willing to spend money to have someone ‘catch them a fish’ rather than learn how to do it themselves…not likely...not in this or any economy. What is more likely is that this ‘modern Muskie angler’ will evolve into someone who used to fish for Muskie or someone who joins the ranks of other dedicated Muskie anglers who have come to realize that there is no ‘magic bullet’ to being successful at Muskie angling. To all of you who are trying out the adventure that is Muskie angling…WELCOME! I would, however, submit to you that

although the thrill of having a Muskie on the line is exhilarating, the thrill of actually planning a hunt, executing that plan, and catching a Muskie that you discovered is an experience that will enrich you all your life. See You On The Water!

Twitch, Jerk and Glide By Al Denninger © 2006 Muskie fishing and jerkbaits go hand in hand, but what style jerkbait to use and when to use it? Make no mistake about it, jerkbaits can and do produce well all season long. When Fall comes round, they can really get hot. Every tackle company seems to have one, Bobbie, Eddie, Teddie, Mikey…if you don’t have one named after you, hang in there…I am sure it won’t be long in coming. With all of the different jerkbaits to pick from, just what do you look for before laying down your hard earned money? Twitch Baits Most have lips, like hard Lexan or metal, such as the Slammer Crane or Hi-Finn Sidewinder. You can use these baits two ways. Crank it in with a steady retrieve or use it in a pull/rest method. This seems to work the best in September, when water temperatures are still in the 60° range or in the summer months. Using rapid pulls or jerks in quick succession all the way back to the boat is the best producing tactic for early fall or summer Musky. As the season progresses, try slowing the bait speed way down. I pull the bait down with a medium speed jerk, then I let the bait float up and break the surface. Then a pull down again makes a

distinctive slap/gurgle that simulates a dying bait fish on the surface. Jerk Baits The name jerkbait really covers all three styles of these baits, but when you break them down, a jerkbait is a pull bait with a metal tail you can adjust to change the action and set the depth to which it dives. A Bobbie, Fooler, and Suick are just three examples of a jerkbaits. I prefer using these type baits when the water temperature is in the upper 50° range and higher, as they usually need to be worked faster for the best action. Glide Baits These style baits have no adjustments. The action you get out of this bait is supplied by the angler himself. All glide style baits are not equal. Take two of the same baits that are new from the rack and one might work excellent while the other may be a $15.00 piece of firewood. The density of the wood and its relationship to how the bait is assembled determine how a glide bait will perform in the water. The one thing I want out of a glide bait is when I pull or snap that bait, I want it to glide left, right, left, right. If I cannot get that action out of my bait, it is chalked off as a loss. No sense using a bait that does not give you the action that triggers fish. If you have a glide style bait that is not performing with the correct action, try snapping your wrist fast with a little slack in the line. This is sometimes all that is needed to obtain the gliding side to side action so deadly on Musky and Northerns.

Being the proud owner of a bait that does not work can be used to your advantage…try drilling and re-weighting the lure… you have nothing to lose. In tampering with the original design, you may now come up with a bait that runs deeper and gives you the desired action. Another trick is to add a large heavy duty split ring to the eye of your bait. It not only gives the lure more action, it also helps keep the fish from getting leverage and popping open your snap swivel. Some fishermen like a leader attached to each bait. This ensures that no snap can open during a battle with a big fish… you must, however, check the leader regularly to be sure that it is in good condition. The Eddie Bait comes this way from the factory and is among the best glide baits on the market. Another is the Striker, a different looking bait than most jerk baits, but big fish love them. One bait that I have trouble placing in a style category is the Banana Bait. It is not a glide bait, but it can be twitched or jerked with equal success. It is among the hottest jerkbait to come out in the past few years. The award for the easiest glide bait to use has got to be the Manta. It produces a seductive darting motion with just a slight rod tip action that catches fish throughout the season. Matching Tackle Rod choice when using any of the three style jerkbaits should be one 6 to 6½ feet in length. The smaller and lighter baits can be used with your bucktail rod, but when tossing the bigger and heavier chunks of wood or plastic, a medium to heavy action rod is needed.

There are plenty of good fishing rods on the market today. Most match up well to the Abu Garcia 5500 or 6500 reels. I like to use 40lb. braided micron with the heavier jerkbaits. TUF Line is a good choice for medium to light weight jerkbaits. I avoid using a monofilament line with jerkbaits because of the high stretch factor… it will cause you to lose a fish. A leader is a must. Using one equal in length to the size of your lure will provide good results in most cases. Jerkbaits have been catching fish for many years and will be around for many more to come. Get in on the action this summer or fall or for that matter throughout the season. Good luck and tight lines.

The Making Of A Memory By Craig Sandell © 2022 It was June and time to revisit the folks at Indian Trail Resort. I had been fishing for about 2 weeks…well, the wind made it unsafe to be on the water for at least 5 days of the two weeks. There are some really accomplished Musky anglers who stay at Indian Trail Resort, so the low number of Musky registered at the resort was not typical. The wind and rolling storm fronts had many of us drowning our disappointment at the bar. I have been fishing out of the resort for about 33 years, spending most of my fishing time learning the East side of the Chippewa Flowage. Over the years, I have developed a “dance card” of spots that have produced fish in the past…some successes and some disappointments. It was June 27th and the weather finally decided to cooperate with light winds, light evening overcast and a storm front on the horizon. I had planned to go out around 8pm and do some night fishing but the weather forecast showed some unsettled weather about then. I decided to hit the water about 6:30 to beat the weather. I hit my first “dance card” spot and threw everything I could over and around the weed bed that was off an island point…No Luck. I pulled up my bow mount trolling motor and slowly motored off the spot on my way to spot #2 on my list. As I approached spot #2, I noticed some folks haunting the spot…they weren’t fishing but the water was well disturbed. I moved on the spot #3.

Spot #3 is a sheltered bay with a lot of water character. That is to say, it has a rocky point on the entrance to the bay with deep water as well as a substantial weed bed toward the back of the bay. Last year in September, I tied into a really nice fish on a Hawg Wobbler in this bay. I usually fish by myself, so fighting a fish with one hand while trying to manipulate the net, had me doing what I call the ‘Musky dance’. I got anxious because the fish was not hooked well. I tried to horse it into the net…I lost the fish on a bad net job. As you might suspect, my fishing ego was crushed. So, as I pulled up on the bay, the memory of last year’s failure still haunted me. I was determined to not repeat the failure should I be able to coax a Musky onto one of the Toppers that I make. I came off the rocky point and slowly cast toward the weed bed at the back of the bay. There was a slight ripple on the water. About 7:30 I got to the outside of the weed bed and tossed my lure in an area where I had caught a 37 incher a couple of years back. I was lulled into the routine of casting and retrieving…not really expecting eminent action as a Musky came out of the deep water in the bay and attacked my lure. The Musky hit and immediately dove down. I couldn’t see the fish, but I could feel it shaking its head as it tried to free itself from the 3/0 VMC treble hooks on the lure.

After a tug of war with the beasty, I was able to bring it to the surface. I gasped…it was a nice big fish. The Musky went down again and was inspecting the bottom of the boat. I let out some line while keeping the rod tip high to give it some room to move and lessen the chance that it would straighten a hook. I still hadn’t seen how well it was hooked. I tussled with it for a bit and then its head broke the surface with my lure firmly in its mouth, and then it went down again. When it came back up at the front of the boat, it banged its head into the boat as it tried to dislodge the lure. I knew I had to get it under enough control to get it in the net before its efforts to dislodge the lure were successful. Fighting the fish with the rod in one hand and the unfurled net in the other hand, I was doing the ‘Musky dance’ again. I was finally able to maneuver the fish toward the net. I dipped the net into the water and got three quarters of the fish into the net. Remembering my failed net job from last year, I tossed down the rod and grabbed the rim of the net, getting the rest of the fish in the bag. My exhilaration was short lived. I now had to get the fish out of the net to get a measurement and a picture. The fish was still ‘green’ and I couldn’t safely get my hand under the gill plate. The last resort for me was to wrestle the fish into the boat while it was still in the net, something I just don’t like to do. Once the fish was in the boat, I was able to get the fish under control using my FishPic. I struggled to get the fish on the bump-board, and it measured a beefy 45 inches. A quick picture and then the fish went back into the water.

The fish was out of the water longer than I like and its lethargic condition meant that an extended time to revive it would be required. The wind had pushed the boat into the weedy shoreline, meaning that there was likely good oxygen rich water in which to release the fish. It took a little TLC for the fish to get back in control of itself, and with a gentle squeeze of the tail, it wagged its way off into the stained water. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to handle a larger fish by myself. Tight Lines.

The Third Man, Everyone Has A Job In A Crowded Boat By: Craig Sandell © 2010 This summer I had the great pleasure to share a Muskie adventure with my good friend Rob Meusec. He joined me for a few days during my annual pilgrimage to the Chippewa Flowage…so I hired a guide, John Dettloff, for a half day (evening & night) and we set out on our quest in search of Mr. Muskie. This was no philanthropic exercise on my part for you see, Rob is the person who infected me with Muskie fever some 25 years ago and this is my way of thanking him for all of the memories and adventures since our first excursion. We set out hitting several spots and Rob and I absorbed all of the information about fish and water that John eagerly shared. It is always a pleasure having John for a guide. He will always impart some very valuable knowledge as part of the guide experience and over the years I have benefited greatly from such outings with John. This particular evening, however, was a real eye opener for me. I have fished the Chippewa Flowage for a number of years hitting such notable spots as Fleming’s Bar, The Eagle’s Nest, Rudy’s Island, Willow Island, Church Bar to mention just a few. The one place that had remained a mystery to me was Pete’s Bar. Pete’s bar is a very large sub-

surface piece of structure. It has numerous depth variations and vegetation population locations and, quite frankly, can be very intimidating by virtue of the fact that there are no surface structures that can be used for location assessments. To the uninformed Muskie angler, Pete’s Bar is just another open expanse of water on the 15,300 acres of the Chippewa Flowage. To complicate the issue, this outing we would be fishing Pete’s Bar at night with no moon. As we pulled up on Pete’s Bar, I watched closely how John positioned the boat. As I was getting ready to ask some positioning questions, John began to explain every aspect of how he was positioning the boat using shoreline and tree line references and further explained the sub-surface depth and vegetation. As we made our first pass across what John called the "Sister’s Edge" I found myself spending more time absorbing the location markers than fishing…not so my good friend Rob. He was intently pitching the Orange Frenchy creeper that John had given him to use. The creeper made its usual loud splash entry into the water and its characteristic Muskie calling plop as Rob retrieved it through the blackness of the evening. We finished our forward pass over this prime edge location and John then employed a technique he calls a "double hover". This means that you simply retrace your forward path back over what most folks would consider used water. This is a technique that many of the best guides use and it usually will coax a fish into striking if one is about.

This evening was no exception. About halfway through the double hover at the edge of a weed line, a Muskie inhaled Rob’s creeper. We all heard the water explode and, upon setting the hook, we heard Rob colorfully announce that a fish was on. When a Muskie is on, an 18-foot tri-hull with 3 excited fishermen can become very small. Everyone in the boat has to know what to do in order to support the angler with the fish on the line. In this case, the guide’s job was easy. John encouraged Rob to keep his line tight and gave him tips on fighting the Muskie as it foamed the water and inspected the bottom of the boat. For me, as the third man, I had some tasks to perform also. First was to get my lure in and ensure that my tackle did not get in the way of the fight. My next task was to watch the progress of the fight closely. It was up to me to make sure that I did not become an obstacle in the boat. Since the night had stolen our normal visual acuity, I made sure that head lamps and flashlights were available when needed. It doesn’t sound like much of a contribution to the battle, however, staying out of the way in a crowded boat is a very important part of the process. After about 10 minutes of tussle with his Muskie, Rob positioned him alongside the boat where John netted the fish. The lure, upon the relaxing of the line, dislodged from the Muskie’s jaw and came to rest at the rim of the net. John removed the lure from the net…I took the rod from Rob and placed it out of the way. I got the camera (s) out and got ready to snap a couple of photos for

prosperity. John reached into the net and extracted the Muskie to measure him…a healthy 42-inch 20 pound Muskie. I snapped a couple of photos using John’s camera. As I readied Rob’s camera, John handed off the fish to Rob for another couple of pictures. Photos completed, Mr. Muskie was back in the water and on his way…a little tired but none the worse for the experience. On your next Muskie outing where you are sharing a boat with another angler or two, remember that everyone in the boat has a job to do during a Muskie encounter. Remember also that keeping clutter in the boat to a minimum is an important aspect to preventing hooks in fishermen and broken rods. Fishing at night demands even greater care to ensure that your boat is free from clutter. Take only the rod you will need and only the lures you can safely transport. As a footnote to this story, I would like to direct your attention to the two photos shown here. Both photos are of the same fish taken not more that a couple of minutes apart. Notice, however, that the fish looks smaller in the photo of Rob by himself. The reason for this is the fact that the fish tensed its tail section moving its tail toward Rob’s body and away from the camera. It is interesting to note how different the same fish can look by small adjustments to the fish or the camera position. Many of the photos that you see in publications are taken using a camera angle that can exaggerates the size of the fish.

Big River – Little River John Myhre © 2011 There are many good-sized rivers like the Chippewa or Flambeau rivers in Wisconsin, or the Upper Mississippi in Minnesota that are known for producing Muskies. But there are also many smaller rivers that contain Muskies in these states and others. These smaller streams and rivers are often overlooked. Many larger rivers have good access and are navigable by boat, but many of the smaller rivers run through remote areas and are sometimes navigable only by small boat or canoe. Sometimes small rivers contain beaver dams or old logging dams that tend to restrict fish in certain river sections and also make the river harder to navigate. This means less fishing pressure.

PRESENTATIONS FOR RIVER MUSKIES Because much of river fishing is in or around heavy cover, bucktails or surface lures are usually a first choice. Shallow running crankbaits worked much like a surface lure come in a close second. When working around deeper structure or the deep pool areas, jerkbaits and deeper running crank- baits are also good options. Since Muskies utilize current shelters as ambush points, they nearly always expect their prey to come from upstream, so retrieve accordingly. This retrieve angle is very important when fishing rivers. Always try to position yourself so that casts are upstream, bringing the lure either down current or across the current as shown in figure 2. By doing this you will get the most natural presentation which usually results in more Muskies. FINDING A RIVER Most of the time a letter or a phone call to the State Department of Natural Resources will provide you with a list of some rivers that contain Muskies. Many smaller rivers that feed into some of the larger well-known musky rivers also hold Muskies. Usually some real big fish opportunities exist here.

RIVER MUSKY LOCATION The key to finding Muskies in a river is to look for rock or wood structure, (like areas marked A, D, E, and F in Figure 1), that create shelter from current as well as provide an ambush point. Look for this type of structure near deeper pool areas and you will have found Muskies. Locating deeper structure and pool areas is best done with the aid of a depth finder, but much of the shallower structure, like down trees and stumps (area E), can be visually sighted. In the summer months active fish will usually station themselves on the backside of an obstruction just out of current while inactive fish will hold deeper in the pool (area C). During normal water levels Muskies will use mid-river structures, like boulders (area A), as well as shoreline areas. When the water level rises and current increases, however, Muskies tend to use shoreline areas more often because there is less current than in mid-stream. Shallow bays, like the one marked area B, will also hold Muskies, especially on a stormy overcast day, or in early morning and late evening hours. Don’t overlook cuts or small coves in the shoreline (area G). These areas often hold Muskies in periods of high water, too.

The Quest For A Weedless Musky Lure By Craig Sandell © 2020 Throughout the Musky season, weeds are an unavoidable consideration when fishing for our Musky friend. In the early Spring, we are searching for emerging weeds and as the season progresses. we are seeking methods to fish close to the weed edges. We all know that emerging cold fronts have Musky holding deeper next to weedy areas or even right into the weed. These Musky movements have Musky anglers looking for ways to fish Musky when they are in tight to or deep in the weeds Over the years, there has been a parade of weedless Musky lures that offered the promise of a solution to fishing in the weeds. Some of these weedless lures are somewhat successful and some just flat don’t work. When you consider that we are trying drag a spinning mechanical device, bristling with hooks through a tangle of underwater vegetation, it is amazing that anything can successfully navigate that type of obstacle. I recently had the opportunity to visit a custom lure and tackle outlet in Boulder Junction Wisconsin, Janie’s Flies. While I was there, I came across a weedless lure configuration that deserves some serious consideration as we look to the 2014 Musky season. Janie Harpster, the owner of Janie’s Flies, has put together a weedless Musky Lure configuration that is a very interesting approach.

The lure has either a single or tandem #5 French blade. The lure is also equipped with a 4/0 or 6/0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook. The interesting twist is a rubber creature that is configured with a slit in the body of the rubber creature where the Gamakatsu EWG Hook fits comfortably. This configuration allow for the point of the hook to be inserted into the rubber creature in a manner to maximize the lure’s weedless potential. The lure is configured with opposing tinsel to give the lure a larger cross section during the retrieve.

Janie recommends one of her stranded leaders to enhance the weedless lure's effectiveness. I have never been a fan of stranded leaders because many manufactures use a crimp to secure the tag ends. Janie's Multi-species 7-Strand wire Leaders are hand tied using a custom knot along with a series of wire wraps that eliminate the need for crimps or sleeves. The quality barrel swivel and Duo-Lock snap make for a quality stranded wire leader. Visit her website at and checkout "Ramit Weedless Tinsel Lures".

THE CRANKBAIT BASICS By David Christian © 2000 Crankbaits are those lures with the larger diving lips that produce a wide wobble as they are retrieved and usually are considered to be deep running baits. We have all used them at one time or another. The crankbait is a Muskie hunters' most versatile lure; it can be worked just under the surface or to depths of 15'+. The shallow running crankbait must be moved along at a quick pace to maintain its depth. These lures are a dynamite presentation to use when the muskellunge is active and feeding shallow. But what about the neutral fish? The deep diving crankbait can be used in many different situations; it can be worked slow, fast or at medium retrieval speeds. You can stop the buoyant crankbait and it will rise and back away from most obstructions easily. The crankbait can be a solid, straight model or can be a jointed lure. The straight or onepiece version will work through the timber and around other obstacles easier, while the jointed model will give an illusion of faster speeds and provide a clicking sound at the union. Most large crankbaits contain some type of rattle chamber to attract curious fish and will be constructed of hard plastic. The crankbait is more than just a lure to cast and retrieve back to the boat. It is a tool, especially to the Muskie hunter. The crankbait should be used as a tool to locate and probe the waters for hidden structure such as timber, humps, bars, rock and deep weeds. Hopefully with the techniques you learn here,