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
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
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.
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.