Working Deep Wood

Late Summer Flowage Tactics

By John Myhre 2001


Musky CatchSure 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 providing 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.

Figure 1 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 man made 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 spins, weighted straight shaft buck-tails 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.

Figure 2 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 may save the trip for you.