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Throughout the year

10/14/20 @ 12:51 PM
User since 9/11/20

Hello everyone.  Somewhat new here besides checking out/doing reports.  Recently gotten into musky more so than years prior.  Haven't been able to get out as much obviously with beginning of 2020 and wedding in August.  Always researching and trying things out.  I ended up with more gear than needed, packed full of different spinners, spinnerbaits, cranks, some rubber, ect.   Seems like most of the cranks all have shallow lips and spinners only seem to work in upper area of water.  So many different topwaters (i didnt even know there were that many available.   few deep raiders and such but how deep do they really get on a decent cast?

 Anyways, I'm looking for some info to get better.    Been on guide few times for a day in Sept. when a bucktail was used all day that seemed to run a few feet down (how would ya tell...) of outter weed edge but only experience with that and smaller ones on smaller action lakes/pike/musky same size..      Basically, a breakdown by month with relation to temp.   I'm around oconomowoc area and have place up by crivitz so that pretty much leaves the cauldron (high falls is big and buuuusy).     For example, starting in May, shallow bays with smaller sizes, are topwater good?     What to look for in May and June area on different lakes,  July water seems too warm to find them when temps are high 70s/80s.   Is morning and evening ok to chase them?  Water doesnt seem to cool.       So in August, temps are still usually up, maybe water temps come down a bit, what areas are fish liking to be at?    Same with Sept, Oct, Nov.       Right now, (oct 14) lakes around here are lower 60s, maybe upper 50s with these windy days.   How would one know when to cast rubber deeper, throw bucktails that seem to run first couple feet, spinnerbaits that can let fall, cranks/jerks (mostly seem to be all shallow)       when and how deep suckers are set.    when to use topwater in fall, ect.   Just general knowledge of patterns/months/water temps since its ever changing.      Fronts, sunny days, cloudy days, before/after a storm, sunrise/sunset

10/17/20 @ 4:46 PM
User since 10/17/20

Some good responses. Glean what you can from reading up, but after that it’s all about putting in time on the water - lots of time in some cases... If you’re down for fishing Oconomowoc area lakes/need some spots send me a pm. 

10/16/20 @ 7:54 PM
User since 9/24/03

There have been tons and tons of stuff written on this sort of topic for many years.  Books, magazine articles, online forums, etc.  Plenty of stuff for a person to read...but muskies can't read.  Just when you "think" something makes sense it no longer does.  

Muskie fishing is a never ending tangled web of self fulfilling prophecies. If you use bucktails 90% of the time you'll catch close to 90% of your fish on a bucktail.  If you focus on outside weed edges 95% of the time then close to 95% of your fish contact will be on outside weed edges.  When contact is made and fish are caught you develop confidence in that tactic because "it's worked for me before."  Cool, congrats!  It worked...but could something have worked better?  If you get stuck into a rut of doing the same thing over and over you'll find success when conditions line up with your presentation.  On the other hand, if you build adaptability into your approach you now can find success when you line up your presentation with the conditions.  

I'm going big with bait selection with my very first cast on opening day provided that the fish are not in a post spawn recovery mode.  If they are pre-spawn or post-recovery any size will do.  So many have bought into the "downsize in the spring to match the hatch" mindset but what hatch are you matching?  Those young of the year perch that are the size of a grain of rice?  A perch or crappie that is 6 inches long at the end of may isn't going to hit a ridiculous growth spurt where they end up being 14 inches long by late October.  So I go big right from the get go.  If they want it, they will be able to eat it.  

Regarding surface baits, I look at from the viewpoint of "if they bounce off of ice they aren't going to work."  Even then there are scenarios where you have iced up backwaters where you can lob a surface bait onto the ice and skip it across the ice and off the edge and it gets crushed.  Some of the most ridiculous topwater days my boat has seen happened in the latter part of November when we had to break ice getting the boat launched and loaded.  Again, it's that adaptability factor mentioned above.  Does it work all the time?  Nope...but when certain factors line up such as sun angle, water temp, current effects, and nothing else seems to be working why not give it a shot?  

Speaking of current.  Muskies originally are a river fish.  It's what they evolved from and have adapted to lakes but they still retain many traits of a river dwelling animal.  You mentioned Cauldron.  The current areas are pretty easy to see and find on that body of water because it's a flowage.  The traditional lakes you fish will all have some sort of current in them.  It might be an outflow, an inflow, created by wind, or any other number of instigating factors creating that current.  How do those lake currents interact with hard structure (points, saddles, humps, etc.) and with "soft" structure (cross currents, man made currents)?  Look for areas of turbulence and chaos where currents hit structure and mix.  Developing the sense to sniff this stuff out can take a 5000 acre body of water and in some cases trims it down to 100 acres or less of water you want to focus on.  

Not all bodies of water fish the same way.  Two N Wisconsin lakes I am very familiar with that are connected by a half mile stream are very different in scope despite having a nearly identical biomass, bottom content, size, weed growth, etc.  One is very "by the book" and all you need to do is apply what you've read in Musky Hunter Magazine and you'll be set.  If you do the same thing on the other lake you'll drive yourself nuts.  On that one you do exactly the opposite of what works on the other lake and ignore what is written in MHM.  It can be frustrating to some but when you realize a very simple concept it makes a ton of sense.  Muskies aren't reading that stuff.  

10/15/20 @ 9:28 AM
User since 9/11/02

Early in the year May/June when fish are shallow I would be fishing with smaller bucktails rather than top waters. Twitching shallow running crankbaits is also a good bet early in the year. I’d stay away from top water until the weeds come up in spring. 

Seems like you have Summer covered. 

Fall after turnover is time to switch to rubber and deeper running cranks. When sucker fishing use your locator and find heavy schools of baitfish. Look for hooks under those baitfish. I usually set the sucker above just above the baitfish. Some days muskies are belly to bottom and I’ll try a couple feet above bottom. Depth varies but don’t be afraid to fish deep if that is where the bait is. 

10/15/20 @ 7:57 AM
User since 6/18/13

Lots of comments and questions in your post. There is as many to each possible responses. Lol

Here are  my comments. 

Early in the year use smaller baits. Small single blade inline spinners,smaller twitch/jerkbaits,bass sized stuff also,and topwaters. Shallow bull dawgs work well as well. Start shallower where water is warming the most and around bait fish if you find them. Baitfish is key all season long really. If you don’t see anything shallow start moving out to the break line or other structure (reefs,points etc). Can even cast/troll around in the basin if you mark bait and /or musky. 

Like you mentioned I don’t fish for them once water temps hit 76-78* unless it is early in that waster temp time. For example if it has just been a couple of high sun low wind days that have just heated up the surface a little. The oxygen levels are still fine at that point. It’s after that and when the temps go up and even heat the water column deeper then I don’t fish for them at all. You can throw anything and everything and everywhere. I’ve seen the bigger fish off the deep weeds often (sand grass !) and use the bigger deeper soft plastics then or deep diving cranks etc. 

Best time to be fishing for me is late summer to early September time frame. Bucktails bucktails and bucktails lol with some topwaters as well. If they are slow I throw gliders and plastic. Start shallow weeds inside and outside edges and cover water. 

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