We were up musky fishing from 10/26 - 10/30 (Friday - Tuesday). Got a half day in on Friday so we got a good 4.5 days in of fishing. We only caught three musky, which is bad for us when we make our trip(s) this time of the year.
Weather was consistently overcast with a light wind. A few scant windows of Sun. It was comfortable fishing weather for sure. Wind on Friday was light E/SE, then E/SE Saturday, then light N on Sunday, then light/calm NW/NE on Monday, then medium/light E/SE on Tuesday. Overall I would have preferred not to have multiple east winds.
We had consistent rain of some form on most days with a mist on Friday, then some rain Friday night, then some rain Saturday night into Sunday morning around 9:00 AM, then some rain again Sunday night, no rain on Monday, and then more rain Tuesday afternoon around 2:00 PM. We got dumped on Tuesday afternoon and it sucked, but we had the gear for it. Luckily, this was the only rain that fell on us while we were actually out on the water - most of it came down while we were sleeping. A bunch of water came out of the boat when I pulled the plug on an incline. Overall I don't think the reappearing Fall rains helped our efforts. I heard on a local news channel Sunday night or something that this October ranks as the 6th or 7th largest rainfall total for the month of October since recording in either Wisconsin or up north or something. Don't quote me on that.
Water temps consistently 42.5-43.5 on each lake we fished. We fished a different lake each day. We caught three musky on Saturday and had action from several others. Two on suckers, one on a lure. Saturday was a good day with a giant flurry of activity from 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM (surprised me a bit). We also had action from a fish or two on Monday, but it never committed. That was all our action for the 4.5 days - Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday dead quiet. That was disheartening. Water temps last time we were up from 9/21 - 9/25 one month ago were 62-64. They had dropped 20 degrees in a month to 42-43. I don't know what the dropping water temp trend was prior to the big cold and winds they had during mid-October.
Most muskies were gently picking up the sucker by the belly and either dropping them or making it difficult to get a good hookset angle. I would inspect the bite marks on the suckers each time. I was using medium-sized suckers that ranged a bit in size for the medium spectrum. I also had a large one out on a few days that I kept lower. I marked at least one musky each day on the sonar. I kept them in great condition and they were really doing their job each day.
The full moon was on Wednesday, 10/24. I talked to some people who had good success on Tuesday 10/23 and Wednesday 10/24, including a 32-pounder. Unfortunately we had to plan this trip AFTER the full moon, not before and during. I think this was our first musky trip that was entirely after the full moon had passed. It wasn't a good one for us, either. I'll assume it was a combination of post-full moon + east winds + consistent rain. It could also just be that I picked the wrong lakes/spots at the wrong times. Not sure. Lots of variables. We had a similar experience last year in early November when water temps plummeted - we did great before the rapid drop, and then bad after - we were not up north during the actual drop. In previous years we consistently did very well with steady Fall declines (size and numbers).
I was casting the entire trip, too. One visible follow and lunge, but no contact. Grandma. Most of the time I was throwing rubber. It has done very well for me in the past. Spent the trip dividing time between weed edges, drop-offs, mud-rock transition, and humps. Fished hard all day every day. Aimed for the most complex areas that offered more. Discovered some new secondary structure. Spent a bit of time slowly going over some really dense weed beds, too, carefully watching the live bait. Didn't see anything. All of this stuff has consistently produced for us. Not this time. All of the fish we actually caught and had action from were weed-related and shallower.
I saw a few people on Lake-Link and Facebook post some pictures of fish they caught this past weekend, including some nice ones. Good stuff, but not for us. Ha! Not sure if we'll be back to Vilas in November. I have some water down here I want to work, and it doesn't require nearly as much work planning, time, and money. Yields vs. investment, etc. For sure we'll return up north next season, though.