Classic Articles

Here you will find some of the great “classic” articles from past issues of Musky Hunter magazine. We hope you enjoy them.
Please return here often, we change the articles that appear on this page frequently throughout the season.

Carve Trophy Waters Down To Size
We all dream of trophy muskies. For some of us the pursuit of giant muskies goes beyond a passion and becomes a borderline obsession. How else can you explain our colorful discussions about fish handling, size limits, photographs, tournaments, etc. The bottom line is we all care about muskies and want to protect our waters and our fisheries so that they can continue to produce trophy fish into the future. As musky hunters grow in numbers we naturally increase the amount of pressure on the existing waters. That simply means more fish are going to get caught. With muskies reaching 25 to 30 years of age in some northern waters, chances are that fish will get caught several times throughout its life. So, taking all the steps necessary to protect these fish so we can catch them again is pretty important.
Heat, Cover, Baitfish
Early season musky fishing is something that all musky nuts can’t wait to start doing, yet few are truly successful at catching fish during this period of time. You’ve heard all the excuses that “It’s too early,” “They’re still spawning, “The water’s too cold,” “We need some nice weather to get ’em going”. The list goes on and on, but for the most part none of it should hinder your ability to catch muskies in the early season. What you do need to know is where the muskies are, and what conditions and lures are going to trigger them to strike.
Basic Black
It doesn’t seem to matter where or when a discussion of lure color comes up between musky men and women. There’s always one who has to say, “Any color’s fine as long as it’s black.” It’s such a standard comment, it’s become cliché. If I had a nickel for every time I heard somebody say that … well, I guess that’s a cliché too. I’ve heard it so much, I expect to hear it.
Seven Degrees Of Musky Location
We have found that water temperature and its effects on the prey/predator relationship should be one of the most valuable assets in any musky hunter’s arsenal of knowledge.
Forget Finesse
If I remember right, it was about my tenth cast on the first spot of the first full day of the University of Esox Musky School on Lake of the Woods last July when a musky charged out from the rock point behind my Double Cowgirl. I whipped the lure into a figure-8 and watched as the fish shot forward and crushed the bait going away, exactly the same reaction that I triggered from two nice muskies the evening before.
Six Steps To A First Musky
As a long-time musky guide, I’ve shared my boat with anglers of all proficiency levels. I’ve fished with musky hunters who have caught literally hundreds of muskies, including some huge fish. I’ve also fished with anglers who are complete novices who have never even fished for muskies.
Early Season Night Strategies
It was mid-afternoon and I was starting to feel really warm. The morning had been cool and the day before I had worn every sweatshirt and jacket I had. Early summer often experiences crazy swings in temperature, and the good news was the forecast called for a warming trend.
Three Hot Summer Tactics
Summer fishing can be defined in different ways depending on who you ask and what areas you fish. Traditionally, summer fishing has been defined as casting your favorite bucktail in shallow weeds on your lake of choice. To some this is true, but to the rest of the musky world, well, we know better. With muskies ranging from Alabama to northern Ontario, summer tactics are as different as ants and alligators.
First-Timer’s Guide To Lake of the Woods
I started hunting muskies on Lake of the Woods about 25 years ago. My first impression remains with me today ” almost every spot looks good!

Up to that time, my musky experiences had been almost entirely on small to medium size lakes in Wisconsin. Locating fishy spots was a challenge, particularly before sonar. But to explore a small lake and locate weeds, rocks, logs and points took a matter of hours and provided a good starting point to pinpoint musky locations. These spots were fished repeatedly and the winners eventually were evident.

Pieces of the Big Musky Puzzle
September 10, 1998, will forever stand out in my memory as well as my musky catch records. I hope to experience another day like it, but I doubt that I’ll ever enjoy such a great day again.

On that day my buddy, Kevin Schmidt, and I caught 16 muskies ranging in size from 34 to 45 1/2 inches in length. Eight of these fish were over 40 inches, and another two were just shy at 39 1/2 inches. It was the kind of day every musky hunter dreams of experiencing, yet few do.

In the years since I’ve tried to understand what went right that day in an attempt to duplicate the success. Sure, the muskies were hot and we didn’t see another boat containing musky anglers all day, so we were able to take full advantage of the feeding spree. But what set the fish off?

Three Must-Have Rods For Muskies
Many of you Musky Hunter readers are old enough to remember the days when one all-purpose musky rod was the norm. A short, stiff, 5 1/2- to 6-foot pool-cue action was the musky standard, and nearly all of us had that one single rod. In most cases, this was the only rod that was offered in stores. While that same sport shop would offer a wide variety of lengths and actions in spinning or fly casting tackle, the “musky rod” was just that ” one single rod.

It was not because there wasn’t a diverse selection of lures. While the musky department of yesterday couldn’t rival what is now available, there certainly was a complete array of lure styles and weights. Small, lightweight bucktail spinners, weighing no more than 1 1/2 ounces, were certainly the most popular in northern Wisconsin, but we also had plenty of 4 to 6 ounce heavyweights. Large wooden jerkbaits were even more popular than they are today.

Direction Detection
It was 11:16 a.m. on October 31 of the 2005 season and I knew we were cutting it close. I would be meeting my second party of half-day guide clients at noon and needed a good 30 minutes to get off that water and reach the meeting place. I had planned to head in at 11 a.m. but we had been getting follows all morning long and we just raised a nice fish …

I really wanted these guys to get a fish!

Dead, Flat Calm
The intensity of the August sun begins to fade as it nears the western horizon and colors of orange and purple bleed across the cloudless sky. While the heat reduction is a welcomed change, the humidity feels like a weight on my chest and the still air sticks to my sunburned skin.

The distant hum of a small outboard motor creeps into my consciousness as I deliberately make my way around the shallow, weed-covered point. All sounds seem to be amplified by the unruffled surface of the water. The occasional bluegill slashing at a caddis fly trumps the whir of my electric motor. The gurgling plops of my surface bait almost seem too much as it leaves a noticeable trail of bubbles on the otherwise motionless water. I consider switching to something a bit more subtle, but then I hear the water erupt.

Cure For The Blow-Up Blues
I was pretty keyed up as the day started, as my friend Tom Sullivan and I were filming a television segment. The excitement of filming a show is much like the anticipation of the first day of any big musky trip, or the moment before the start of a tournament. You can’t wait to get going, and your hopes are high.

The first spot we fished had been holding a big musky, that we had seen twice the day before. So as we cast the spot my adrenaline was rushing in anticipation of what might happen. On about the third cast a 45-incher hit at boatside and after a quick battle she was quickly released. I breathed a sigh of relief, relieving some pressure of at least getting one fish on film. Then it was back to trying to get the big one to strike. As we approached the tip of this large point, I made the first complete turn of the figure-8 with my bucktail when the water exploded. Unfortunately, the explosion was two feet way from my lure, as the big musky obviously misjudged my bucktail’s location. I continued to figure-8 feverishly, and my heart rate was certainly aerobic. However, the fish did not return and strike the bucktail.

Musky Hunter Catches Up With Bill Crane
West Virginia may be far removed from the musky-crazed Midwest, but when it comes to lure manufacturing, it’s at the forefront. Cranes, Cobbs, Amma Bammas and Hughes Rivers, among others, are handcrafted there, musky baits which have transcended their home state to become staples in tackle boxes everywhere.

To Bill Crane, it’s no surprise. “I figure people look at me and say that if Bill Crane can do it, then I can too,” he laughed.

1-2 Punch For Flowage Muskies
When I think about it nowadays, I had what most musky hunters would consider an interesting childhood. I grew up on my family’s fishing resort located on northern Wisconsin’s Chippewa Flowage. Muskies and musky fishing were a part of daily life in this environment, and this likely gave me a head start to becoming a musky angler.

As a “resort kid,” I got to know several of the old-time musky guides who fished the Chip. When I look back on it, many of the guides were the gruff, rough-hewn outdoorsman type, but they generally seemed to have time to answer many of my questions. And as an curious kid, I’m sure it seemed like I had a million questions!

Confessions of a Bottom Grinder
This isn’t merely bottom bouncing. It’s flat-out, hard-core, dredge-the-bottom-for-muskies trolling.
Secrets For Success In Clear Water
Five patterns for scoring in “gin bottles”
Rattle Your Way To Spring Success
With musky fever hot on your brain, you contemplate your next spring trip to Southern musky water.
Refined Live Bait Tactics
The author has turned livebait fishing into an artform. Here, he takes it a step further.
Do they exist? Of course. But are the numbers of 55 inches and 50 pounds being thrown around too much lately?
LOTW with Bill Sandy
One of Lake of the Woods’ premier guides reveals his summer magic.

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