Location, preparation, patterning and executing are the keys to catching big muskies. I have many people ask me what’s the secret to catching big Muskies, I tell them, it’s no secret at all. Just like anything else, if you want to have success make it a priority, invest yourself and put in the time.
If your priority is to catch the “queen”, make sure you are putting yourself on bodies of water that can present you this opportunity. There are many bodies of water across North America that are home to such fish. Mill Lacs, Green bay, LSC, St. Lawrence River, Eagle Lake, LOTW and Lac Suel are a few of the many. Put the odds in your favor. Certain lakes hold more fish of this caliber than others. Once you have determined the lake that holds you’re giant, prepare yourself, use the resources you have available and start dissecting that body of water.
Preparing yourself is very important. Having the right tools, equipment, resources and information is vital to being successful. Lake maps, electronics with side imaging, quality rods, reels, line and leaders, reliable boat and other anglers are a few of the items that help me be productive with my time on the water.
Electronics and Lake maps will help you determine specific structures that hold fish. Side imaging is an unbelievable tool that will assure your fishing the right areas. Internet can help with researching the lakes ecosystem and what type of bait is present.
A good rod and reel will give you less fatigue, bigger and better figure 8’s and stronger hook sets. Fellow anglers who know the area and are willing to give out some information that can be an awesome resource. Facebook pages, musky websites, musky magazines and musky threads online are good places to get information. With all this at our fingertips, there are no excuses not to use it to your advantage. Like I said, make sure you are putting the odds in your favor.
Putting time on the water will allow you to fail. Everyone is perplexed when I say, “allow you to fail”, but failing is as important as succeeding. Adapting to these failures, staying dynamic and trying new things will help you succeed. Keep a log of your time on the water and you will start to see the patterns.
There are numerous phone apps that you can use to keep logs and there’s nothing wrong with a good ol fashion notepad and pen. Over the years, my personal logs have revealed patterns to big fish. Early season open water trolling and open water casting with big profile baits are a great way to start the season off with a giant.
Midsummer heat and wind combined with moon phases will bring big open water fish out of the depths up on shallow weed beds and rocks. Late summer and Fall, fish can be found both open water and shallow chasing bait preparing for the long winter ahead. Big profile baits work great this time of year as well.
Over time you will start to see how much of an impact moon phases have on your catch rate. New moon, full moon, minors and majors are key to big fish. Also spend more time on the water after dark. Like big bucks, big muskies can be nocturnal and feed regularly at night. I’m not saying you can’t catch big fish during the day, but my logs have proven night time is the right time!
Alright, lastly, the big one finally presents herself and all that’s left is to execute the moment you've been waiting for. This can be either one of the most rewarding or the most humbling moments. You can ask many anglers that have been in the game long enough and they will all share numerous horror stories of the big ones that got away.
Musky fever is just like buck fever, it is real. The more you expose yourself, to big fish opportunities, the more comfortable you get in those situations. You will lose big fish. The turning point is whether you let it get you down or if it gets you back up on your feet and you keep casting.
One thing I can assure you is when it finally comes together and that net slips under a giant, there’s no feeling like it! When all the preparation, planning, time and effort lead you to success, never forget that feeling. This will only drive you harder to feel it again and again. Once you have achieved your goal, don't forget where you came from. Never give up the opportunity to help someone else get to where you are now. We are all on the water together chasing the same dream.