Early Season Musky Approaches
By: John Myhre 20
11


Released FishAs my fishing partner eased the big fish back into the water I almost couldn't believe the incredible Musky action we had just experienced. In less than an hour we had boated three Muskies between 45 and 49 inches. The thick green cabbage weeds seemed to be holding an incredible number of big Musky.

With the water temperature hovering just over the 60 degree mark, the fish seemed quite lethargic and were really holding tight, right in the thickest weeds. Faster moving lures like bucktails or topwater lures just didn't get their attention. Yet, if you slowly twitched a minnow type bait through the pockets or holes in the thick weed cover, you had better have a good grip on your rod! When these fish come up out of the weeds they really meant business. This pattern continued to produce action for us from several Muskies including a 50 inch plus fish that threw the lure out just as quickly as she took it.

Some of you are probably thinking that this sounds like the pre-turnover period when shallow green weeds tend to concentrate big fish in shallow water. Well it could well have been, but this was late spring. Not exactly the time of the year when most of us expect action from that many 25 to 30 pound Muskies. After all, it is common knowledge that the fall months are the best time of the year to go after big trophy size Muskies, right?

Actually though, there is a period in the late spring when the big female Muskies are just as vulnerable. The only difference is fall fish typically weigh more thus adding to the reputation of the fall producing the year's biggest Muskies. However, with faster warming water of spring this window of big fish opportunity is often quite narrow as compared to fall months. Closely watching water temperatures on different lakes can extend this period of activity for you. Last season this pattern produced big fish for me in northern Wisconsin during the beginning of June, also as late as mid-July in Canada.

Water temperature is your key to big fish movements in the spring. Right after big females spawn they usually stay around in the shallows to recover from the ordeals of spawning. However, as the water temperatures get around the 60 degree mark or slightly over, they may start to move a little deeper. Usually the first available good green weed edge along a breakline either in or just outside the spawning area will be their next stop. Although they still may not be really active they are usually catchable by using slower presentations that present them with the illusion of an easy meal.

Big fish may hold in an area like this for an extended time, but usually as the water warms to around 65 degrees and above they will move out into the main lake, setting up their summer home ranges and patterns. Concentrating on these weed areas during this narrow water temperature range has helped me to score on several big Muskies over the years.

SLOW, ERRATIC - BIG BAITS

Boat BattleWith the lower water temperatures at this time of year the general rule of thumb has always been to use smaller baits and slower retrieves. I definitely agree that these big post spawn Muskies generally won't get to excited over faster moving lures. However when it comes to size, just what is small to a 50 incher? Although a big fish may strike a smaller size lure, I don't feel that they will often move very far to get it. On the other hand I have seen big fish move considerable distances to strike a twitched 8 to 10 inch minnow bait. Big Muskies can be really opportunistic when it comes to what they eat sometimes. What I mean by this is often the biggest meal that is the easiest to catch is exactly what they want. Here a bigger lure worked slow and erratic may represent an opportunity that is just too good to pass up.

For this spring pattern there is no question when it comes to which type of lures produce best. While there are times when both bucktails and top water lures are very effective, usually twitching crankbaits, minnow type lures, or jerkbaits are my number one choice. The two things that I most often use to decide which type lure to use are water depth and weed thickness. When the Muskies are holding in really thick stuff jerkbaits can be twitched through the pockets and holes in the weed tops. If I am fishing over deeper weeds or weed edges, big lipped deep runners that are either jointed or straight would be my choice. When it comes to color selection, you should try to pick lures with bright colored sides and bellies. Usually these tend to produce more flash when the bait is twitched, and baits that have lots of flash tend to trigger more strikes.

This season if you would like to get the jump on some big fish early, give this pattern a try. If you hit it right you could be in for some terrific big Musky action. Just remember though, get a good hold on your rod. When you do get a big fish to come out of the weeds after a lure, they really mean business and the strikes can be vicious.