The Musky Hunt Is On!
I always get excited when fall arrives; it certainly puts large fish on my mind.
September marks the time of year to catch trophy fish, one of my favorites is chasing muskies. This fall has been an extreme being unseasonably warm for an extended period of time throwing us way behind in our water cool down. Water temperatures are finally where they should be for this time of year.
We are fortunate enough to have quality musky water in the southern part of the state with healthy populations and large fish. This is made possible by successful stocking programs along with a proactive fishing community of catch and release anglers helping to preserve our fisheries. Many of the waters that hold trophy muskies hold trophy pike as well.
Dane, Kenosha, Walworth and Waukesha Counties hold many musky lakes within miles of each other presenting great opportunities to musky anglers wanting to stay close to home in the fall.
Before I began guiding it was always difficult splitting time between family, fishing, hunting, etc. Quality waters close to home gives anglers the chance between hunting trips to spend some time on the water chasing elusive “water wolves”.
Pewaukee, Okauchee and Oconomowoc are just a few lakes in Waukesha County where trophy muskies can be caught fishing classic fall structure and at times without any neighbors or traffic.
In Dane County the Madison Chain of Lakes being connected to the Yahara River, also has a great population of muskies. Waubesa and Monona being two of the best holds large fish close to the city limits of Madtown. Wingra has the best population of fish per acre being just over 300 acres in size.
Silver Lake located in Kenosha County also holds a healthy population of muskies for its size with many fish in the 45” class. Delavan Lake holds muskellunge up to the 60” range but the population is quite small. On Delavan many large pike are willing to tackle large baits while musky fishing in the fall too.
My musky rod set-ups are heavy to extra heavy rods in 8 to 10 foot lengths paired with Abu-Garcia 6500 series reels up to the 7000i Big Game reels spooled with 100# Spider-Wire Ultra Cast braided line. Casting large baits such as Bulldawgs or large Double-Cowgirl Buck-tails require a heavy duty reel with heavy line to withstand abuse.
Casting baits such as Inhaler Buck-tails and Ernies trolled early fall transitioning to casting slower moving large baits such as Bulldawgs, Jakes or Depth Raiders for example as the water cools are great options.
Soaking large suckers 12” and up in size while casting is a winning combination.
Most of the time I will run two suckers on clicker reel set-ups under the boat and two on floats out from the boat covering different depths.
Most of the time the best action will be in 12-20 feet of water moving into late fall.
Running quick strike rigs is a necessity for safely hooking fish with a low mortality rate. Many anglers purchase quick strike rigs pre-made, I prefer to make my own.
I use either 125# Fluorocarbon leaders or 90-100# 7 to 21 Strand stainless steel leaders depending on water clarity and pressure. Using Fluorocarbon leaders versus steel on quick strike rigs will fool weary pressured fish.
One of my rigs is a double treble quick-strike rig utilizing a rubber band rigged through the nostril of the sucker.
This rig requires a heavy to an extra heavy action rod in at least an 8’ length with 9 to 10 foot being more ideal for hook sets and fighting fish. Using quick strike rigs with rubber bands requires two hook sets, one to break the rubber band and free the sucker from the rig and a second to drive the hooks into the fish.
Using up to 125# braid on sucker rods is not uncommon especially with this style quick strike rig, withstanding the shock on hard hook-sets.
Musky fishing is in a category all by itself. Hitting the gym a couple months prior to musky season sometimes seems to be the best plan casting baits pushing a pound or more and setting the hook on fish up to 50 pounds.
Once you hook into your first musky, I am sure you too will be hooked too!
Chris shown here certainly is hooked tying into to this 42" Pewaukee Musky last weekend!