Flowages 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.
EARLY SEASON HOTSPOTS
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.
Also 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
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.
KEEP IT SLOW AND TIGHT TO COVER
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.
ADD SOME FLASH
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