Opening Day MuskiesBy Dennis Radloff - May 1, 2004
Early season muskies as with any time of year are marked mainly by two common factors. Location and Presentation. While these may sound simple and basic in many ways, these are the key factors to finding success on the water.
How may time have you heard, "90 percent of the fish are in 10 percent of the water", and that "10 percent of the fishermen catch 90 percent of the fish" Based on those figures I'd say there's a strong case for understanding how important location is every time you hit the water.
Location for our early season muskies will boil down to several factors. First we need to consider that these fish will most likely be in a "post-spawn" pattern, which means shallow bays with soft bottoms are going to be the best location for starters. Post-spawn muskies will not evacuate those preferred spawn areas mainly because they will be the warmest water areas on the lake, to include hosting new green weed growth, and also a good amount of forage. Considering all those factors and you can see where there's a lot to be said for the "90 percent of the fish in 10 percent of the lake".
Now you have a high concentration of fish in a small area, combined with the factor that those fish will be on the move looking to restore the energy exhausted during the spawn we can focus on presentation.
When it comes to working these bays I like to cover water and seek active fish. My favorite method is a "one-two" punch with a buck tail and a jerk bait. I like to start covering the main shoreline with the front angler throwing a Mepps Musky Killer, which has the #5 blade, and the rear deck angler throwing a 9" weighted Suick. These are great "seek & destroy" lures mainly for two reasons. First they are high percentage hook up lures and secondly they cover water effectively. I like to make an initial pass and then come back through ensuring effective coverage. If there's any active fish relating to this area this presentation should give you a good chance of getting hooks into them.
The other great thing about this presentation is that if you don't catch anything, you will likely at least get a follow, which in turn has helped you locate a fish that you can return to with a smaller twitch bait presentation. If you come up with no fish and no follows then adjust out one cast length deeper and repeat the same progression. Generally starting shallow and working deeper is a solid approach. As far as lure colors are concerned it will depend upon your water clarity and overhead conditions.
Sticking to this formula for your early season muskies is sure to help you find active fish on the lake you hit this spring. As always be sure to sharpen your hooks and tie fresh knots. Good luck, be safe, and I'll see you on the water.