Musky Talk With Steve Worrall
Mar 6th, 2007 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Mar 6th, 2007 at 12:00 AM
Slamr: MuskieFIRST welcomes Steve Worrall to our “20 questions with” series. Thanks for joining us Steve!Steve_Worrall: Happy to be here. Slamr: Steve, can you start off by just tell us a little about yourself, your background in the fishing industy and the such? Steve_Worrall: Sure. I’ve been a fisherman all my life, basically started Muskie fishing when I was about 16 and have not been normal since. Tony Portincaso and folks like the Lindners, Jim Cairnes, Dan Sura, have been friends for years. Tony hired me in 1975 to work with Tuffy, and I’ve been a sales manager in the marine industry ever since.Slamr: What waters do you fish and/or guide on? Steve_Worrall: I got my first Guide license in 1974. I started on Pelican, mostly because it was a tough body of water with big Muskies, and no one else was really guiding there at the time. I branched out to about 25 lakes in Oneida, Vilas, and Langlade, and have now pretty well concentrated those back down to a few; Pelican, George, Moen, Crescent, and a host of little lakes are my favorites. Slamr: Over that many years I’m sure you’ve had clients of many types, and as a past tournament angler and current website owner/operator, what can you say is the Number 1 thing that you see that the majority of muskie anglers can and should be working to improve on? Steve_Worrall: Two major items; reading the water and boat control!! Slamr: When you say “reading the water”, what does that entail? Steve_Worrall: I used to teach a Fishing class at Nicolet College, and that question came up alot. It was hard to answer. Most successful anglers know how to read the water, and it entails more than just a map. The problem is, most folks look out on that water and see a the surface; what’s underneath, the structure, what holds the fish, is invisible. Slamr: What is it that you’re looking for, what are you reading in this “invisible” area? Steve_Worrall: In order to interpret the water you are fishing, you need to be able to ‘see.’ Your sonar allows for that, but most folks are under utilizing the unit.Slamr: How are they under utilizing their sonars? Steve_Worrall: First, it’s important to understand how the equipment works, and what that means to the angler.Slamr: beyond the usual “read the manual” of electronics, what are people missing in their interpretation of what their sonar is saying? Steve_Worrall: Most of us are using a Liquid Crystal unit now, right? Slamr: yes, they are Steve_Worrall: OK,let’s look at that first. The screen on any liquid crystal is really mostly displaying history. The first 1/8 inch is real time; and the screen runs BACKWARDS. We have been trained for years to read/study left to right, but a LCD sonar screen runs the opposite direction and, since the first 1/4 inch is real time, the rest of the screen is displaying history and essentially irrelevant to boat control. It’s like riding on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, looking backwards at where you’ve been. If you see a hook echo in the left side of the screen and you are drifting at 2 mph, that is WAY behind you. We have the tendency to look at that screen like a TV, but it’s really constantly updated recorded history. First 1/8 inch, that’s your focus area. Slamr: So, since we’re looking at where we’ve been, how do we use that as a guide towards fishing where we’re going? Steve_Worrall: Your sonar tells you where YOUR BOAT is, which is important to reading the water. The lake or river you are fishing really is just a field filled with water.Slamr: So, basically you’re saying to use the sonar to predict what the water you’re moving towards MIGHT look like, based on what you’ve been over? Steve_Worrall: You’re close… Imagine entering a bay One contacts the weedline in 6′ One backs out a casting distance, where one wishes to be and finds the boat in 9′. In order to stay on that edge, one needs to hold that boat to the ‘road’ your lane is 9′. Your fishing zone is from the weedline to 9′, so 6′ to 9′.If, as you move along in a controlled drift(another subject for later) you will discover that the edge moves in and out with the contour lines. Let’s fish a weedline that goes from SE to NW, we start on the NW edge. NW wind Controlled drift… As I move down that edge, I adjust the boat to hold on 9′; move up to 7, I’m off the road-out to 10, again, I’m off the road. So I’m using my sonar to ‘see’ the control zone just like a windshield on your car. I am looking out to that weedline, and in my mind’s eye, I see it out there like a hedgerow in a field. Steve_Worrall: Now for the fun part, Slamr. When you picked up Nikki tonight from work, how did you get there? Slamr: I drove my truck? Steve_Worrall: Did you have to think about how to get there? Or did you pretty much just go?Slamr: I pretty much just went Steve_Worrall:The FIRST time you drove there, it wasn’t so easy, right? Slamr: No, it wasnt Steve_Worrall: First, to clarify, to learn water I fish a jig; count it down for depths, contact the weedline, feel the bottom density. I ‘learn’ my way across that bay that way. You used visual cues to get to the place you picked up Nikki. I might drive that, learn it, and use completely different cues but still arrive just fine. The sonar provides those same cues for me. Slamr: When you say “bottom density”, a. what does that mean and b. how can you tell what differences there are in the density? and, why does that matter? Steve_Worrall: Hard bottom on the edges is good; gravel, etc. Just a small change from marl to sand can mean a different type of cover, and mean the spot you are looking for. Steve_Worrall: Now let’s look at the concept here.You drive to the Hideout, no big deal, almost 6 hours of driving, but you know the way; don’t have to use a map, and seem to know exactly where you are all the way. HOW? Simple, really, visual cues and elapsed time; your subconscious mind takes care of that after you have done the learning. You know when turns are coming, what to expect.Ever suddenly feel LOST while on a familiar trip? Did I miss my turn? Where AM I? Slamr: Yes. Steve_Worrall: A bit of panic, you begin to look for something familiar… then you see it, and you are OK again. What happened there is something disrupted the flow of elapsed time for you. THAT is how folks really good at reading the water control the boat, hold it in the zone. Just like driving to work . First, though, you have to learn your sonar well enough to acquire the visual cues. The sonar provides the road, the screen is literally your windshield. Off the road for whatever you seek for that drift, you crash, either way. Slamr: Now that we’ve covered how to read the water, and how to stay on the ‘road’ what do people need to do better to keep the boat on that road? Talking about that boat control issue you mentioned earlier. Steve_Worrall: Most now use a bow mount electric. I’m controlling the boat with the wind most times so really, I’m sailing. The rudder is my gas motor. Nose out from the edge, gas motor turned prop to the wind, hit the electric when I start to slide into 8′ just a bit; nose goes out from forward movement from the trolling motor and the rudder forcing the nose into the wind, wind catches transom, pushes that out as well, equalizes..wind pushes the nose back, boat begins to slide in again— repeat. Zig zag (sail) down the structure, do NOT pull your boat down it, too hard to hold on the road, and cover the water. Amazingly, using your gas motor as a rudder, you can literally control the boat down an edge the wind is blowing almost directly into. In order to cover an outside turn, the boat needs to ‘reverse’ it’s angle so I ask the guy in back to turn my motor the other way and literally ‘come about’. Stay on that road you learned when exploring the sweet spots of that structure, and you will catch more fish. Slamr: And those sweet spots are the breaks between different bottom substrate materials? Or other features of “edges” of the “road”? Steve_Worrall: Inside turns, rock piles on the edges, a pocket or slot, a drop that is a bit more accentuated, nuances; points, differing weed densities and types; like that area on Moen you got that nice fish. Slop, but suddenly, good cabbage in a ‘patch’. That’s marl, surrounded by mud. Same depth, but different bottom density. Imagine that as superior cover for the Muskies like a deer in the field preferring the taller, but easier to move through, vegetation.The lake is a field filled with water. The only purpose for that water is to hold up the boat, and keep the fish alive; gotta see.. 3 D …NOT 1D. Slamr: Now moving to the joe caster, not running the boat: what do you suggest for that guy to improve his muskie success? Steve_Worrall: The jig will allow you to learn. Properly rigged, most creatures fall at 1′ per second creating a long range depth finder.OK, the guy in the back, if the boat operator is worth his/her salt that angler will have first shot at half the water. ASK what you are fishing, how it lies. The guy running the boat knows. ASK….then cover it, carefully; fan cast, cover every inch you can at the allowed speed controlled by the guy running the boat. Watch where the other angler casts, DON’T cover the exact same water. Look for uncovered pockets and lanes and place your cast there. Work the water like a machine, in concert and both will catch more fish.Steve_Worrall: and above all, cast over by that rock…. Slamr: you just love that… Slamr: Tell me a bit about the jig set up you use, and the basics of jig fishing for those not yet experience in tossing jigs. Steve_Worrall: I use several styles of creatures all designed to sink 1′ per second. Cast the jig, and the instant it hits the water, begin counting it down; a count of 4 means 4 feet. If the boat is in 8, and the edge is in 6, you are up onto the shelf too far to fish the edge; see what I mean?I use spinning tackle, and for a good reason, speed is key with a Creature, but in short bursts. The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line so point your rod at the jig when it hits the bottom and the line gos slack and reel three times, FAST. The reel will pick up about 6′ of line, maybe a bit more. That jig will climb about 3′. Slamr: How large are most of these jigs? Count it down….1–2–3, line goes slack? Still 4′ deep. Reel. Count it down the next revolution…1–2–3–4–5– It’s 6 feet deep; and so on. Like a blind fellows cane, that jig will let you explore what you cannot see. I use 1/3 ounce in the weeds, and up to 2 ounce swimmers on the rocks; larger tails on the heavier jigs. Once you learn that water…then you drive it like you do your car to pick up Nikki, and can throw ANY lure. Important…when jig fishing, don’t wave that rod around. Keep your rod tip pointed at the lure, that will keep you concentrating, in a hook set position, and always moving the jig in a consistent manner. I’m left handed like all good muskie anglers are so I can keep my finger on the line while that jig is dropping and rotate that line right back onto my finger when I stop the ‘jump’cycle. I am literally feeling my way around out there 60’ away. When a Muskie hits a jig,it’s electric. You won’t ever forget your first really big Creature Muskie. Slamr: Wow, so few questions but so much great information. Thanks for the time Steve, and I’m sure this info will help alot of anglers! Steve_Worrall: I hope so, and thanks for putting up with me on a late winter Tuesday evening!