Warm Water Muskie

By John Andrew - August 1, 2012
With high water temperatures during this time of year, Muskie Anglers are put in front of several options, some of these options are going to be discussed and presented to you in 3 separate presentations with 3 separate techniques. This article is about day time fishing. This is late summer or pre early fall, depending on your location.

First presentation:

One of the [most popular is the rubber Bulldog and other rubber baits, remember, there are several rubber baits that Muskie anglers are using and there are several rubber baits that are continuing to explode onto the Muskie market. Some of these baits are only 4 to 7 inches long and some are over 20 inches long, some of them weigh as little as 6 or 8 ounces, all the way up to and over 2 lbs. Make no mistake about it, these baits work and have been producing Muskie for over a decade. Are you using them, in my opinion, you should be.

First technique:
Ok, we work these baits over large extensive flats, at this time of year from 3 to 18ft. deep. Over weeds and over the flats that are connected to these weeds. Remember, the weeds will be shallow, from 3 to about 10 or 20 ft. deep depending on your lake. Then there are lakes we fish much deeper. On deep clear lakes we are fishing 20 ft. to 50 ft. down on the bottom, not relating to any weeds but instead, relating to ledges, drop offs and deep flats. Yes, there are anglers producing Muskie on these deep clear lakes during dark time using Bulldogs off the bottom, no secret. We are doing it during the daytime.

Casting out and making a long 3 ft. to 4 ft. pull then reeling up the slack, then repeating the process is what produces best (for us.) Now, during the extended warm water period, which we are experiencing now, we will continue to produce best by casting out and letting our presentation sink to the desired depth or even to the bottom, according to the structure we are fishing and then begin the retrieve.

We continue to cast or troll some of these extensive flats, which could be 100 acres in size or, as small as a football field. Trolling the rubber baits is very productive. We understand that there is a distinctive edge, from where the weeds stop growing to the flat, or where the flat is connected to deep water. This is where we focus our efforts and even past that edge. Color is absolutely important to your water environment. So, you need to experiment, not only with color but size can and does make a difference.

Last season, Lake Sinclair and other local lakes were absolutely on fire with consistent Muskie action, as we all know, the Bay of Green Bay off of Lake Michigan has been producing for the last several years, especially this year.

There are sand bars, rock bars, long extended points off of shore, main lake basin Muskie that are suspended and mostly under fished, these are all locations we should be fishing this time of year. Ask any Muskie row troller and he will tell you his biggest fish caught are over the flats or suspended.

Second presentation:

Deep running and shallow running Crank Baits, these tools are very good options for the Muskie hunter, now. Casting or trolling. Many Canadian and U.S. Musky hunters will swear by deep running and shallow running Crank baits, trolled or casted. These baits are offered in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Many, many of these lures are continuing to be developed, from small baits to large lipped baits that are currently being experimented with. Have you ever caught a 22 inch Northern Pike all chewed up? H'MMM, what did that? And it is not from spawning rituals when caught in August or later months. Every year, untold numbers of Muskie are caught on this large bait, some of these baits are even triple jointed or more and over 2 feet long.

Second technique:
Today, with the 9 ft. rods, super reels, heavy and thin super line, casting these large and heavy baits is no longer a challenge. Trolling is even easier. With untold color patterns available to the angler the choices are endless.

We focus on the action of the bait, over expense, so, how do you decide, well, trial and error still rules. Darker and more natural colors for certain water and brighter and more action for other water. We like to pattern the time of year for size, color and action. Early in the season for smaller Muskie sized stick baits and by mid August we are throwing and trolling the big 16 to 25 inch heavy weights. These bait colors are corresponding to the water temperature. Yes, 2 pound Crank Baits with the right color and action, slowly retrieved over very shallow weeds, is and has been producing Muskie for us. As shallow as 3 ft. to 6 ft. retrieving the bait so it is barley under the surface and comes back to the boat winding like a snake, (DEADLY, FOR US.) Then casting these big baits to shallow rock humps, long points and over open water near or around the main lake basin, but, retrieved faster.

Some deep clear lakes, casting to a deep shoreline break with a deep diving crank bait and cranking the bait down the ledge at a very high rate of speed is very productive.

The deep Crank baits are also best trolled for suspended fish, or casted along structure breaks. This list of structure breaks can be extensive, from weed lines, flats that drop into the main lake basin, rock bars, humps, points, extended points under water from shore, saddles between bars, shallow bays that extend out into the lake and the list goes on and on.

Let's say our lake is only 29 ft. deep but large, with a few weed infested humps, trolling around the humps, even as far away as 500 ft. from the hump and casting over the top with the shallow Crank baits is an option.

Also, weighting the shallow Crank bait and casting or trolling this bait is a very good technique, as the action from a floater is much better than a deep diver. Yes, there are divers that have great action, so, both work. There are times of the year that color is very important, this is when patterning your lake from certain water temps. to higher water temps. makes all the difference.

Muskie feed on different types of bait fish at different times of the year, so, color does indeed make a difference during the warmer water. You much experiment.

Third presentation:

Buck Tails in various sizes and colors. These baits offer the widest variety of color and size, from a, 0 Mepps spinner to a 2 ft. long mega triple Cow Girl or large and long single blade, they all are spinners and they are accountable for the most Muskie caught every single year, not in the 0 size but from a Mepps #4 and up to the big stuff. The large Bass spinner baits that are used for Muskie fishing are also very productive over any hard obstructions when they are retrieved, they rarely if ever get snagged, un like a Buck Tail.

Third technique:
Again, with very long rods available to us we can make huge 150 ft. casts, this is a fantastic advantage for covering the strike zone. I can remember back in the early 1970's casting with a pistol grip 6 ft. Musky rod. Wow, what a nightmare.

Today by covering so much water with our long rods and very good reels loaded with super line, you have to wonder why more Muskie are not coming into the boat.

Did you ever wonder why certain Muskie anglers continue to produce the big ones, not only the big ones but even numbers of fish. Well it's like this, some people swear they never do well with a buck tail and others swear by them.

Some people say they can't catch a fish on a Suick and others swear by them. Ok, it's not the lure as much as the operator, it's that simple, sorry, no offense but, yes, it's us, we need to become better operators of the bait. Working a straight retrieve or a twitch and reel retrieve, or a slow rolling retrieve or a let it sink down and then a straight retrieve and on and on. Make no mistake about it, everyone of these retrieves has a place and time for the best results.

Suspended fish, a slow rolling retrieve is our best. Over the weeds a ultra long cast tip held high and a slow retrieve, for us. Deep fish a long parallel cast to the structure we are fishing, count it down and a twitch and reel retrieve.

Cool water temps we like a long cast and steady retrieve, for us. Keeping the Buck Tail in the strike zone is the key, no doubt about it. Also as previously mentioned, as the water warms, color does and always will make a better day.

Trolling a Buck tail is also deadly, once again, keeping the bait in the strike zone is the key. During increasing water temps, the size and shape of the blade or blades will become important for certain vibration frequencies and absolutely will make a difference. I like a long narrow Buck Tail over a fat bushy Buck Tail. As time goes on, you will develop seasonal patterns, not only on locations, but also for size of the blades, color, shape of the blades and how many blades, hair color, flashabu trailers and stinger hooks.

As my mentor use to say, save a few for the tourists.

Author John Andrew
John Andrew
Captain John Andrew is the owner and operator of The Angler's Choice Guide Service. John began fishing on Wisconsin's Big St. Germain Lake in 1964 at this grandfather's lakefront cabin. As John's passion for fishing grew he apprenticed under legendary Wisconsin Northwoods guide Jules Novak before he began his own guiding career. John holds two World Records in the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall Of Fame as well as two Outstanding Angling Achievement awards. Click here for more information on John Andrew and The Angler's Choice Guide Service.