Aug 10, 2017

Turn Up The HEAT—Mid Summer Muskies!!

By: Jeff F.

So, summer is in full swing and the water temps are at their peak right now. Muskies, being cold blooded creatures (in more ways than one!) are also at the very peak of their metabolic rate right now. They are digesting meals faster than any other time of the season. This is important to know because it means they will also be FEEDING more frequently which provides more windows of opportunity to catch them.

At this time of year, more than ever, I really like to hit as many good musky spots as I can, as quickly as possible. Not just because I like driving my Stratos, but because, as I stated, they are feeding more. This is a time to fish spots a little faster than I normally would. The fish will let you know quickly if they are active in the particular area you are fishing or not. If you are not seeing much in one piece of structure, either try changing depth or type of cover. Seeing and catching multiple fish is a very good possibility during this peak feeding period.

A lot of things are happening this time of year, including recreational boat traffic (you know, those fun loving jet skiers and pontooners- ha-ha). But things like boat traffic, and lack thereof, can be great factors in your success or failures; as is forage. More so forage. Muskies are highly tuned in to where prey species are hanging out.

Locations to Check

As you may know, I’m very fond of nice, big, beautiful cabbage weedbeds. I believe, at least in my home waters and many others, this is the #1 spot for numbers of fish and also trophy sized fish. When the water temps are high, there can be a tendency for fish to gravitate to the deeper edges of these areas. Often, cooler water will be desired by some of the preferred prey fish. Perch, crappies and bass will usually be found near these cooler, deeper areas. You can guess who’s right on the deep edge watching and waiting…….. You have basically your whole arsenal of lures at your disposal now, because you can attack the deeper edges with lower chances of being fouled by the weeds themselves. Medium to deep crankbaits, weighted jerk baits and plastics all will work for this. I prefer larger spinnerbaits, as you can cast directly into the weeds, bring them right through and let them flutter down the edges. Start your retrieve with a medium to fast speed and, as your lure approaches the edge, slow it down, drop your rod tip and let it drop. Keep your line tight at all times and do not lose contact with your lure! Muskies are way too good at fooling us already without giving them any other breaks. Once your lure is five to ten feet out of the cover, start increasing your retrieve speed and raising your rod. If you see a following fish, step it up even more and don’t be afraid to rip that spinnerbait, as this is an excellent triggering technique we use. Spinnerbaits, inlines and cranks are also the best lures for boatside strikes during figure 8 maneuvers!

Any shorelines that have downed timber can also be a hot spot in midsummer, especially if there is deeper water nearby. Trees that protrude out away from shore will almost always hold some type of forage. In river systems, these areas are often overlooked. There have been MANY times we have had long stretches of river shoreline with little to no weeds, but lots of downed timber. This is where we have seen other boats; but, they were driving past us to more “popular” or traditional spots. In other words, don’t overlook these areas if the fishing pressure is heavy and your favorite weedbeds are getting pounded already.

Mid-lake bars and humps can also be dynamite in midsummer. I especially like them if they at least approach the surface. If they top out around 3-4 feet and have any vegetation, look out! Deeper water humps and bars can also be great. Particularly the ones that light-up your electronics with baitfish. Deep, open water is not my game, so you’ll have to do your homework if you would like to try that.

Speed Kills

This time of year, as I stated earlier, you can really cover some water. Regardless if you’re hitting the weeds, shoreline timber or mid-lake areas, this is the time to crank up your retrieve speeds. There are numerous reels out there that can help you do this with little effort. Believe me, this is a time when muskies are on the hunt and there will be periods when you can’t reel fast enough. This is to your advantage, because it allows you to “find the pattern” quicker. Fast stepping spinnerbaits and inlines really come into their own this time of year. But, never, never overlook topwaters at this time! This period will be your best shot at heart pounding topwater strikes and there’s really nothing like seeing a GIANT fish coming like a freight train to DEMOLISH a fast moving topwater! Please be sure you consult with your physician before attempting this, as I’ve seen people react in some very strange ways when this happens. Most can’t be printed or described here! Topwaters of all styles can be deadly now. Pick your favorites and let ‘em rip! These lures are also deadly coming over the deep edges of weeds and mid-lake humps and bars. It takes very little effort for a musky to come up 6-8 feet to crush a topwater.

I must also talk about follows and boatside action. Summer peak is THE time to be ready for boatside attacks! If you have a follow, do not slow down. Increase lure speed and action. These fish are hot and feeding to the max right now. A great example is the time we weren’t in Wisconsin, but on the Winnipeg River system. It was blazing hot and fish seemed to be everywhere. We were fishing an island point and a mid 50-inch class musky was charging so hard that when I turned my lure, the fish banged into the boat, then CRUSHED the lure going straight away from me! We’ve also had fish come from out of nowhere and hammer lures when no follow was seen. Be ready and don’t lose your focus. It seems like they know as soon as you do, believe me!

I could go on for days talking about weather conditions and moon phases and such, but my advice? Get out and enjoy this great, exciting sport as often as you can! Just stay off my spots—heehee. But, If I had to pick my GO TIME, it would be when there’s a stretch of very humid overcast days with a chance of rain and maybe storms in the forecast. But don’t take any chances with lightening. If you see it, get off the water.

Be Prepared in Every Way

Pay very close attention to every detail. Not just now, but any time you’re going after trophy muskies. SHARP hooks, fresh line (with NO frays), fresh leaders, drag set, no nicks in your line guides. Watch your surroundings for any clues to hot areas: surface commotion, feeding birds, etc.

One last thing I’d like to stress. Don’t forget to stay hydrated this time of year. Some Gatorade and plenty of water are absolutely crucial. If you’re overheating, take a break indoors and come back out for the “Witching Hour” around 8 pm. Another important item is some serious sun protection. High SPF sunscreens, a long-sleeved white t-shirt and sun scarves can save you a lot of agony later in the day and your life! Don’t take chances with it.

So, when the heat is on this summer, turn up the heat in your musky fishing in every way!            

Tight lines and wet nets!