Welcome to the start of a busy year of talking musky behaviour, tactics, lore, and legend. Some people live and breathe their fish all year long. I know a lot of people like this. Good on us.
My personal goals for the year are centred around two key words; learning and technology. I started by launching a new website a few weeks ago and have already taken steps to finally learn the intricacies of my electronics. Lots of study and we haven’t even started talking about new cameras and new equipment. Oh and it’s show season to so stay tuned for updates on the events where we can meet up including the Toronto Sportsman Show and the Pennsylvania Muskie Max in March..
I am lucky to have the tutelage and friendship of the man they call the guru, Wally Robins. A decorated environmentalist, highly experienced angler, and prolific writer, Wally is also a fellow Shimano and Loomis Ontario Field Staff representative. He is wise in the ways of all creatures with fins and I am lucky to have exclusive text and sound advice here on the Musky Factory blog.
Read and learn. Thanks Wally.
How to Catch More Summertime Muskies…..Now!
By Wally Robins
The temperature is minus 20 and all our local musky waters are hard. And while many of us are dreaming about sunny days and hungry muskies, we won’t be catching any for another few cold months.
Or can we? The answer’s a resounding “yes” and the approach is plain and simple. Do some pre-season preparation and do it now. Here are five simple things you can do while waiting for the white fluffy stuff on your lawn to melt.
1. Sweat the small stuff with your gear
If you haven’t sent your reels for service, do it today. Respected reel repair specialists are worth their weight in gold. But they hate the “last minute” guy, the person who drops off six reels for service two days before the opener. Same deal with your rods. Check the guides for burrs. The tried, tested and true technique of running a cotton ball through each guide works. If a rod guide picks up a strand or two of cotton, get the guide replaced. If rod cosmetics matter to you, clean the cork handles with a simple solution of dish soap and warm water. Got two or three year old braid on your reels? Simply reverse the braid and you’re good to go for another couple of seasons. Oh, and don’t forget your release tools. At minimum, give cutters and pliers a shot of oil. Better yet, consider attaching some kind of float to your tools so they don’t disappear into 15 feet of water when you’re wrestling with a giant in the net.
2. Connect with your connectors
Excluding line, there are three major connectors that you should check. The first is your leaders. If you still use wire, are any leaders kinked? If so, junk ‘em. Wire doesn’t do well when bent. It does worse when bent back to its original position. Not only will this save you an expensive jerk bait; it could also save a musky from a slow, ignoble death of starvation. Fluoro leaders that are nicked are also bad news for the same reasons. An $8 leader attached to a $30 bait attached to a 20 year old fish? Discussion closed.
Another key connector is hooks. We’ve all heard a thousand times that many muskies are lost because of dull hooks. If this has happened to you more than once, it may not be the hooks that are dull! So dig out your file, open your favourite adult beverage and start sharpening. One other tip about hooks deserves air-time. Many US manufactured baits have sub-standard hooks for our giant Canadian muskies. They’re too small and too soft. Trust me, you really don’t want to see a 50 inch plus fish swim away after turning some wimpy treble into a miniature harpoon. Upgrade this key connector if required.
The last connection device that exists on virtually every musky bait is split rings. They’re susceptible to rust just like every other piece of metal. Quality split rings are inexpensive. Buy a bunch and swap out any old or off-colour ones.
3. Go to electronics school
I’ve said for years that musky anglers are notorious for using, at most, 10 percent of the capabilities of their very expensive, hi-tech electronics. As unpopular as I’ll be, I strongly urge you to spend some time with the manual that came with your graphs. Yes, manuals are boring but suck it up because this will definitely catch you more fish. The off-season’s a great time to learn what your electronics can do. Visit a quality tackle retailer to further expand your knowledge. Many retailers have display units in their shop and can walk you through the “how to’s” of just about everything your graphs can do. Think of it this way. Most musky anglers don’t use their electronics effectively. You do. Who has the better odds of being consistently successful?
4. Be a good learner
I’ve been honoured to have fished with some of Canada’s elite musky, bass and walleye anglers. They have a common characteristic – they never stop learning. The off-season is the ideal time to add a few subtle learnings to your bag of tricks. Put your feet up and page through some of the dozens of Musky Hunter magazines you’ve saved over the years. And don’t worry if you come across an issue from 1998. While overall musky technology has changed radically since then, there’s still merit in the fundamentals. Remember, there’s no magic bullet bait so focus on the seemingly small tips, like downsizing your leader weight and hardware when working a top-water. Or, adding a blade to the front end of a Bull Dawg to combine flash and vibration into one bait. Or, finding secondary, out-of-the-way spots that will payoff in lousy weather conditions or when fishing pressure’s heavy. When your rod buckles on a tough day, you will be very glad you adopted something new and different. Even if it’s from fifteen years ago.
5. Guides and Trips
We all drool at the idea of hiring a guide and fishing world class musky waters. If that’s in your plans for 2016, do it NOW!!! The best of the best guides get booked solid while there’s still ice on the water. Great guides often get 80-90 percent repeat business every year and have regular clients book for the following season months in advance. If you do book a charter for a day or for a week, inform your guide well in advance about your objectives and what you want to learn. Are you searching for a trophy or are you keen on multiple fish regardless of size? Do you want to spend time learning how best to fish crank baits or soft plastics? Your guide will appreciate this information. A lot. Happy guides work harder for the clients.
Make 2016 your best year ever. Some off season planning will help make it so. Catch your personal best. Then, set the bar higher and do it all again next year.
John M. Anderson
We produce BIG fish!!
be good, do good, live well
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