GOOD SCOUTING & A FLEXIBLE TACKLE ATTACK
Will Raise Overlooked Musky
By: Craig Sandell, 20
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Good scouting of the body of water you are fishing upon is essential to being a successful Musky angler. Even if you are sure that you "know" the water you are fishing, it doesn't hurt to take a couple of hours to revisit old spots and refresh your memory.

In this article we are going to discuss scouting the "spot-on-a-spot" as well as some tackle tactics for producing fish on such a location.

The first step is to identify a likely candidate. You do this by getting a good map of the body of water you are on and taking the time to locate likely fish locations. Once you have a few areas selected, you have to go out and look them over.

The island shown here at the left is the island that we will discuss. Notice that the island has shallow weed growth jutting out from two points. An island like this looks pretty good, however, you need to really investigate a piece of structure like this to be sure of its potential.

For what characteristics should you be looking? You are looking for saddle areas, shallow shelves, rock piles, gradually deepening water and the presence of a main river channel. Any two of these structural characteristics can be an indicator of good Musky potential.

NOTE: The vegetation you see in the picture above is no longer there due to high water and tuff winters.

In this case, this structural piece has all of these characteristics and is, therefore, deserving of some close attention and regular stops during any Musky outing. The redrawn topographic representation of this island tells it all.

There is more to this island than one might think. There is an extensive weed bed between the small island and the larger adjacent island. The extended shelf that tops out at 3 feet is surrounded by gradually deepening water. There is a main river channel on either side of this extended shelf acting as a "superhighway" for Musky in transit.

How should this piece of structure be fished? This island is a prime candidate for a flexible tackle approach aimed at hunting for those fish that are not typically hunted. The approach is one of high percentage and versatility. You need to have four rods. Each rod is set-up with a different type of lure. You may elect to use different line weights and reels with different retrieve ratios.

The four lure types are bucktail, surface bait, crank bait running at 4 to 10 feet and a crank bait running 8 to 15 feet...a glide or jerk bait should also be considered. The area between the two land structures has weeds and a depth of about 3-5 feet. Weeds are also close into all visible shorelines. A surface bait and/or a bucktail are the bait of choice in these areas. The sunken bar in front of the small island tops out at about 3 to 5 feet from the surface. The bar is a rock and gravel bar and is usually void of weeds. A bucktail is the lure of choice when in close proximity to the bar. The drop-off ranges from the 3 to 5 feet at the top of the bar to 30 to 35 feet as you get more into the original river channel. As you work out from the bar, the lure of choice becomes a crank bait. Depending upon the depth, you would use the 4 to 10 feet deep running crank bait or the 8 to 15 feet running crank bait. Reels with different retrieve ratios will be helpful with this crank bait approach. Keep in mind that there are a good number of stumps at the 20 foot depth all along the contour of the bar. It is very likely that bait fish are suspended at the lower depths among the stumps. It is also likely that Mr. Musky is lurking around down there also. Two people could probably fish this area really well in about 20 minutes using natural drift and trolling motor positioning.

Most articles like this one do not tell you where this piece of structure is located so you have no way to actually test out the scouting and tackle approach that has been discussed. This, however, is the Internet and the business of Musky America is to provide information that you can actually use, unlike some other websites trying to sell magazines or a guide's brand of lure.

For those of you who fish the Chippewa Flowage, this island is Willow Island. It is on the East side of the Chippewa Flowage adjacent to Church Bar. This piece of structure has produced many respectable Musky catches over the years and is the location where at least two 55+ inch fish have been seen. If you are fishing the Chippewa Flowage, make sure that you visit this spot.