Sep 9, 2017

Give yourself the Edge 

Fishing can be a very challenging sport, especially when hunting the elusive muskellunge. There are the tools of technology and other little tricks that can give you an "edge" to catch more fish. Success in musky fishing is difficult, sometimes seemingly impossible. In this article, I will review some of the tools of technology and techniques that I use to give myself that "edge." 

The first point I will discuss is fishing with confidence and a positive attitude. Musky fishing can be a very frustrating sport. We have all been told that a good attitude is everything and this adage applies to musky fishing too! A positive outlook improves fishing outcomes. When calm and focused, the angler is better able to concentrate on fishing techniques. Confidence and optimism have become significant in my own fishing success. My ongoing goal is to catch a musky (or at least raise a fish) with each outing. 

An easy "trick" involves adding twister tails or a little flash to a lure. The addition of a twister tail adds a little flutter to your lure’s action and can improve your fishing success. Holographic tape and flashabou are a couple things I use to add that little flash.  In my experience, these “tricks” have produced more strikes and more follows. 

Expand your horizons by fishing new waters. Also strive to learn something new about previously fished waters with each outing. The more you know about a lake, the more successful you will be. And every lake is different, so the more lakes you know, the better well-rounded fisher you will become. 

Advancements in technology relating to this sport are significant. Fishing electronics offer options and features that give us an "edge." Utilize a map chip in your electronics. Map chips will give a detailed hydrographical account of a particular lake. Connect your electronics with a Global Positioning System (GPS.) The GPS will show your exact location coinciding with the map chip to indicate your position on the lake.  

In the past five-plus years, down and side imaging have come into our electronics arsenal. I am going to focus on side imaging. Before side imaging we had a sonar view of only directly below the boat. With side imaging now much more can be visualized. I usually set my scan to 100 feet on both sides. Now I can see 200 feet of lake bottom rather than just the area beneath the boat.  

When I am scouting a new body of water, I do not fish. Instead I use my electronic tools to "learn" the lake. I run my outboard at an idle pace and cover water. I always run with my trail marker on for the following reason; whether scouting new water or fishing known water, I will know where I have already been. Every screen has a distance key so I can maximize new water covered. If I want to make casting passes with the boat every 20 feet working out from shore that can be done. What do I do when the screen becomes cluttered with trail markers? I erase all previous trails on that body of water.  

When I am scouting a new body of water I usually run a split screen of my lake map on one side and down sonar and side imaging on the other. As long as the side imaging side is the active side, I can move the cursor with the imaging paused to mark a point on the side imaging. Once marked, that point will be a temporary mark of a general icon. I will take my boat over to the icons marked and check them out. If marked sites turn out to be nothing useful, I will erase those icons. If there is something useful, then I will change the icon to whatever it represents. There are hundreds of different icons available. Select the one that best suits your structure's identification. Waypoints are not just for marking cover. I have marked weed points, lake bottom breaks, places I’ve raised fish, caught fish, etc. Distinguishing between rocks, wood and weed edges is not difficult once you have learned to read the side imaging. When you have some waypoints plotted, you have something to work off of when fishing. I have been successful fishing muskies with my marked waypoints.  

If I am not on a new body of water, I still use the side imaging on my back locator. I run a tiller boat so I rotate my back electronics to face where I am standing while fishing and guiding. I am always finding new structure to mark as waypoints, even on bodies of water I’ve been fishing for years!  I continue to mark any new waypoints as I discover them. However, I don't clutter my lake map with too many waypoints. Some lakes will have so much structure and debris on the bottom that it is not useful to mark all of it. 

Learn as much as you can about your electronics; use your owner’s manual to become knowledgeable of the capabilities of the locator. (This might be tedious and boring, but is necessary for proper use of expensive equipment.) Once you understand how your locator works and what it can do for you, take it out on the water. On the water set your color, sensitivity, contrast, sharpness, etc. to have the best views of the underwater images. 

The last thing I will discuss is the use of technology available on a smart phone app. There are apps for everything imaginable; I rely on weather and radar apps when out on the water. There are several weather apps, of which I use three or four. A radar app is most important as it keeps the angler safe, out of a storm’s path. An app called iSolunar™ is useful, as it gives lunar feeding information, radar, current weather conditions and a ten day forecast. To use it, enter a city /location to receive start, peak and end times for both major and minor feeding periods. Additionally, it rates (on a 0 to 4 scale) how good the fishing will be based upon the moon’s phase for a particular day. It also offers tide tables and nearest lightning strike information.  

Another app available from ‘Musky Hunter’ provides useful information. In addition to lunar information, it offers a fish location and extensive lure selection information. There is also a forage page, which explains a little about each type of forage that muskies feed on. Tools and technology are available to benefit the musky hunter; optimize your fishing experience by using these tools. You will give yourself the "edge!"