Make Way For Muskies
May 24th, 2022 by Keith Worrall
Modified May 24th, 2022 at 12:52 PM
Pre-Season Preparation is the Key to Esox Success
By Dan Amundson
Summer is almost here, which means the musky season is just around the corner. While there are many other spring activities to fill your time while waiting for opening day, there are plenty of things that you can do right now to ensure a smooth start to your season of chasing long, mean, toothy predators.
Inspect Old Equipment
Begin with a detailed inspection of your tackle system, from rods and reels to line and hooks. Check rods for defects like broken eyelets or cracks in the blank. Inspect reels for visible damage and test drag systems. Water intrusion into reel bodies can cause degradation of cranking performance; disassemble any reels that aren’t butter-smooth to clean and lubricate as necessary. Addressing these issues now provides the time needed to repair or replace key tackle components before musky fever truly sets in.
Don’t overlook your line – it’s the direct link between you and a toothy trophy. Consider replacing the braided line on musky reels annually. You don’t want to lose a fish that you’ve spent days or weeks trying to trigger because of frayed, damaged, or worn-out line. True musky fanatics rely on TUF-LINE 4ORCE, an exceptional four-carrier braid. This remarkably strong and abrasion-resistant line has minimal stretch to drive hooks deep into bony mouths, even at the far end of a long cast. TUF-LINE’s proprietary coating process provides toughness, longevity, and a more permanent line coloration. Select 50, 65, or even 80 pound-test TUF-LINE 4ORCE, depending on your particular tackle configuration.
When you’re done with rods and reels, break out your tackle boxes. The first thing to look for are hooks that have succumbed to rust over the long winter and need replacement. Mustad 3551 treble hooks are economical, reliable treble hooks that are perfect for your standard lures. Their MTL-V1 point combines a more efficient design with a new sharpening process, resulting in a sharper hook point shape with 50% more penetrating power. Step up to the 3X-strong Mustad 36329 treble hook to make every hookset count. This exceptional replacement hook has unparalleled strength, hooking, and holding capacity, and is fortified with an exclusive hybrid shape and precision forging. Musky guides and tournament anglers: this is the hook for you!
Invest in new lures
What musky nut isn’t constantly adding new lures to their top-secret arsenal? Now is the time to stock up on new items before inventories dwindle and the shelves are bare. Before you hit the stores, research the forage base in the lake you’ll be fishing. Does it have a perch-based forage like Mille Lacs, or more ciscoes and shiners like Lake of the Woods? Make your color and body style selections based on your research. Presenting a lure that mimics a musky’s natural food will increase your odds of fooling the fish of 10,000 casts.
One strategy that helps boat early season muskies is to downsize slightly and use hyper-realistic swimbaits. LIVETARGET makes it easy to match the hatch, as their lures are designed and engineered to look and swim as naturally as possible. The 8-inch LIVETARGET Yellow Perch Swimbait is a compelling option on lakes with primarily perch forage. This lure has a tight wiggle and medium-slow sink speed, and is ideally fished over weed tops and around structure. Another secret weapons taps into the inherent tension between muskies and pike when both swim in the same body of water. The LIVETARGET Juvenile Pike Swimbait features an adolescent body profile and incredible anatomical details combined with the natural swimming action of a young pike, making it irresistible to muskies. This swimbait is available in two sizes and is factory rigged with twin extra-strong double hooks to maximize hook-up ratios and provide better balance. Don’t push away from the dock without having a Juvenile Pike Swimbait nearby.
Plan a trip
There are a lot of great musky fisheries in the country, so make plans to hit the road and explore a new area. Check out the famous Chippewa Flowage in Wisconsin for some fantastic fishing on classic musky water, and add a visit to Hayward’s Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Or try the Leech Lake area; between Leech, Cass, and a number of the region’s smaller lakes, this area has a lot to offer the musky angler. Head to Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods for a more remote trip. Those fish haven’t had much pressure the last two summers because of the COVID-related border closure, so this season could be unreal. While there are many great options, resorts do fill up fast, and making reservations will only get harder the longer you wait. Plan now to reap the benefits later.
Take these last few weeks of the offseason to prepare for this summer, and you’ll be successful when opening day arrives. Good luck, and stay safe on the water this season!