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…in deed, 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 3-5 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