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John Myhre 2010

Flowage Back BayFlowages are often the most productive waters to fish in the early season. Most flowages have stained water and a shallower average depth than most natural lakes. This, plus the fact that even the largest flowages are often broken up into a series of smaller lakes and back bays, means that water temperatures will often be much warmer than surrounding natural lakes in early season. These warmer temperatures provide better weed growth, more available forage, and generally a higher percentage of active Musky.


Many fishermen naturally assume that the place to find Musky in the early part of the season is near spawning areas. But not all active fish will necessarily be in the shallows. Much depends on the individual spring and when you are fishing.

Shallow, dark, hard bottom bays (like area A or B on figure 1) not only provide an ideal spawning habitat, but also warm much faster. Find bays like these and you will at least have a starting point.

Figure 1Also inlet areas often attract spring Musky, especially if the inlet dumps into one of these shallow spawning bays (as in area A figure 1).

After spawning, Musky will remain in these bays for a period of time to recuperate. Look for them to hold either around clumps of newly emerging weeds, or stumps, logs, and brush. Areas that have more shallow water with direct sun exposure on the north or northwest side and less current warm faster producing better weed cover and potential forage.

As water temperatures reach the mid to upper 60's, which can be quite early in flowages, look for many Musky to move out into the closest deep water. Adjacent structure that has cover and forage will be most productive. These deeper areas are usually in the mouth of a bay (area C figure 1) or out into the lake itself (area D figure 1). Keep in mind that regardless of whether Musky are shallow or deep on these areas, they will still be close to spawning areas.


Slow is usually the key word when fishing shallow water for early season Musky as they are often not real aggressive. A slower presentation will give these less aggressive fish a better shot at your lure.

Stick-type minnow baits work well when twitched near the surface around weeds or wood. Floating jerkbaits will also produce. Many fishermen overlook topwater lures at this time of the year thinking it's too early. However topwater lures can be deadly on shallow water early season Musky. Noisy propeller lures seem to produce best under these conditions. Erratic retrieves usually produce more strikes too, so don't just drag that lure in. Give it a little action by twitching it or using a stop-and-go retrieve.

Work all baits very close to shallow water cover. Often you will find Musky lying right up against shoreline cattails in a foot of water. Strikes here can be quite spectacular.

As water temperatures hit the mid to upper 60's start looking for Musky to move entirely away from bays. Systematically work areas with cover just outside the mouth of these bays first. Then move out to adjacent main lake structures where Musky are found.

Lure speed can be increased as the water warms, too. Bucktails really begin to produce well, but don't overlook other lures.


John's Early Season MuskyDarker colors, like black, brown, copper, and gold are always good flowage choices, but bright colored lures with a lot of flash can be ever more productive. This holds true for both shallow and deeper water Musky.

My best lure colors early have always contained copper or gold sides. Bucktail blades in copper, brass, or gold fit the same mold. But stained water that blooms with algae by late spring-early summer will often provide more action on fluorescent patterns containing chartreuse or orange.

In summary, flowages can provide some of the best early season Musky action. Pay close attention to water temperatures. This should help determine when Musky will be shallow or deeper.