Late Season Tactics

In Fall Musky Are Everywhere The changing color of the trees heralds the impending end of Muskie season and the start of the long wait for next year. I was able to steal a long weekend on the Chippewa Flowage from the 24 th to the 28 th of September. I had every expectation of seeing a Muskie or two even though the time was short because of the time of year. As we who fish for Muskie know, the Muskie tend to put on the feed bag late in the season just after the water turns over; but it is always a good idea to revisit the mechanics of this phenomena. If you have read my article on Understanding Turnover, you know that turnover is the homogenization of the water into a single temperature up and down the water column. When this happens, the dissolved oxygen is also evenly distributed. What this means to fish movement is not always obvious, so it bears elaboration. As we know from the recent study participated in by my good friends John Dettloff and Scott Allen, Muskie, at least on the Chippewa Flowage, tend to spend most of their time in deep water and, only occasionally move shallow. Once the water turns over, the reason for fish to stay in deep water, assuming it is temperature and/or forage related, disappears. Now, Muskie could be anywhere and probably are solely focused on location based upon available forage. More so than any other time of the year, forage will dictate the presence of Muskie. With that in mind, and after verifying that the lake had turned over, the hunt for this little 3 day excursion took on a new tactical approach. The location and concentration of the forage fish became extremely important. Combined with the turnover, was the gradual dropping of the water level on the Chippewa Flowage. This accelerated the mild current that moves the ‘flotsam and jettison’ upon which forage fish feed through the ‘neck down’ areas. It soon became obvious that this was the key to an emerging pattern of Muskie location. Along with John Dettloff, we consulted our maps of the water to determine the likely areas that would be ‘high percentage’ given this fall pattern.