by Keith Sarasin (c) 2001
|Spring, the time for renewal, and the time for early musky fishing! At this time
of the year musky are still lethargic due to colder water, and may be a little harder to
find than in the summer. These are some tips that should make you more successful at the
end of the day.
I prefer a medium action 8 ½ foot rod with 12lb. to 15lb. test, low abrasion monofilament line. I use a bait-casting reel or my spinning reel, but it must have a good drag system. Also you will need some large plastic frogs and lizards and a 17 to 20 lb. test leader.
Weedless frogs such as the Boss Hawg are best and can be fished through heavy cover without snagging, but remember to set the hook very hard on a strike. The longer, lighter rod will allow you to snap the hook into the musky's jaw without breaking the line and will let you keep a lot of weight on the fish after the set as the rod will take up the shock. Fighting the musky to the boat is exciting, as he is able to jump or run causing your adrenaline to rise accordingly!
Stay as far away from the shoreline as you can and still cast in to the shore. Cast ahead of the boat on a right angle so as not to throw shadows over the fish. (They will spook very easily at this point.) Retrieve the frog or lizard towards the weeds slowly and by keeping the rod tip up you can actually steer the frog into the weeds and directly over the fish. A slight movement on the rod tip will allow you to swim the frog and make it move as much or as little as you want; either up and down or side movement will cause the frog to swim enticingly.
After the strike you want to get the rod up in a hurry. Hold it so the tip is high and let the arc of the rod act as a spring, keeping even pressure on the fish. As the arc starts to lessen, crank up slack line. If the fish heads towards the boat in an attempt to spit the hook you can easily keep more pressure on by simply raising the rod tip higher. You can also direct the fish to where you want by pointing the rod in that direction. This will help keep it clear of stumps, the motor and the anchor rope.
Keep in mind that you don't want to bring the fish to the boat until it has been tired out enough so as to be less likely to start jumping or running again. This is when the line is shortest and the chance of a break-off more likely to occur. Remember, you are using a longer rod now and you do have to leave a bit more line out as you attempt to land the fish.
Even though you may not be allowed to keep a musky under 36 inches in length, the smaller ones will still provide you with a good fight and their teeth are razor sharp. Letting the large ones go will ensure another good day on the water in the future.
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