It’s the first week of the musky season here on the Ottawa River and the forecast is for nothing but sunshine and temps up to 34 (94F) in the forecast for as far as the eye can see. What do you do? Panic? Cry? Give up before you even try? Don’t fret, there are blue sky solutions.
Muskies spend 2/3 of their time inactive. Big fish have even more down time and when you add in the big blue and ultra-high pressure the conditions are telling them to ‘just lay down’ even more. No doubt about it, this is tough stuff. Add in the post-spawn recovery situation and yup, you’re going to have to work at it. So, work smarter. Here’s how…..
1. Take advantage of peaks – You should be following your solunar peaks if you are serious about muskies to begin with but now it’s even more critical.
2. Watch the weather and look for small changes – the start of cloud build up, even if it is just afternoon humidity and thunderstorms forming up.
3. A change in wind direction is a big turn on for fish and if you see one coming make sure you are in the business district when it gets here. It doesn’t have to be a change in wind direction, it can be the start of blowing wind. I use Wind Guru but there are lots of good wind sites out there
4. Go deep under cover – Fish recovering from the spawn are apt to be handing out in coontail and emerging weed beds to begin with. Now, they will set up camp in there. You have to go in and get them because they are more than likely not coming out to go and get your bait.
5. Bulldawgs, glide baits, and weighted-jerk baits all offer slow fishing options and the latter two offer the option of pausing a lot on each cast. The pause is a big turn on in tough conditions.
6. Talk to your friends and other fishermen, even non-musky people. It’s all about learning and new conditions and there is strength in numbers. Ask especially if people are catching OR SEEING big fish in shallow. Sometimes the females take longer to come around after the spawn and can’t be had in shallow. The first time you hear one is caught in shallow it’s game on!
7. Work, work, work, work, and then work some more. Ye shall overcome.
8. If you are a troller and the wind is up then go to the wind-blown points, weedbeds, and structures. Emerald shiners are not organized this time of year and a lot of them end up where the wind blows. Other fish know this and muskies know the other fish know this. See where this going………….
and the big one…….
9 – Sometimes the river shows you where to fish. This time of year there is an endless supply of things floating in the air that ultimately end up in the river, and things that start in the river and ultimately end up in the air or all over the sides of your house. We are talking about Mayflies (see the picture if you are not sure). When wind and current push Mayfly carcasses and shell casings together in dense clouds or long lines they become fish magnets.
It is a magical event to be casting at sunset and to have all of these big-winged flies appearing out of nowhere all around the boat. Naturally there is also a lot of fish who appear eagerly to eat these. Even subtle wind and current can work to bring these materials together in concentrated amounts that are easily visible on the surface and sometimes a pain to cast or fish in. The areas where clouds of this surface material gathers also indicates areas of little or no current which is a perfect place for a musky recuperating from the spawn to rest. Casting these areas can be tough but persevere my friends because all that surface debris minutia draws bait fish and those who like to eat bait fish and then those who like to eat those who like to eat bait fish. In short fishing the pronounced borders of the spring and summer ‘pooh patches’ can produce muskies.
Onward into the heat and fight the good fight my friends,
John M. Anderson
We produce BIG fish!!
be good, do good, live well
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