Musky America Magazine August 2022 Edition

Musky America Magazine August 2022 Edition Thank you for visiting Musky America Magazine! Well, the “Dog Days” of the Musky season are upon us and beating the heat and warm water temps are the fishing focus. This issue will cover a range of tactics and information to help you with success on the water as the season trudges onward. Stay Safe, You Can’t Catch Musky From The Grave Each day of the Musky season, anglers experience encounters on the water that can provide insights for all of us Musky anglers. For information about submitting articles for inclusion in Musky America Magazine, please CLICK HERE! Craig Sandell Owner and Fellow Musky Angler The Icons shown here are at the bottom of the Magazine pages. *All Rights Preserved©*

If you find yourself in need of “short-term” medical care for cuts, abrasions, hooks in the hand, and other Musky fishing maladies, this is a great option. Visit the website at Birchwood Family Medicine | Birchwood Direct Primary Care. How Do You Beat The Heat? By Craig Sandell © 2018 In case you hadn’t noticed, the weather this Muskie season has been extreme. It seems that the whole country is caught in the grip of high temperatures and unsettled weather that is playing havoc with catching our elusive quarry. The sun has raised water temperatures into the mid-80 degree range on many bodies of water, especially those that are stained or turbid and the wind has not helped the situation. In Canada, the hot weather drives the fish shallow as they raise their body temperatures to help digest food and attempt to beat the short Canadian season, but in America, the hot weather drives the fish deep as they seek a comfort zone. When the fish go deep, the result is some pretty tough fishing.

So…how do you beat the heat and catch a fish or two? It will likely require that you adopt a different approach to the hunt. With weather like this, the surface lure is the low percentage approach. The next lowest approach is bucktails or spinners unless you are using a lure that is weighted that you can "count down" allowing it to run deeper. Two lures that may be useful are: Jerk and crank baits are the higher percentage baits. Fishing these lures off the deep edge (12 to 15 feet) of a weed edge or shelf, is the high percentage approach. You may have to change to a slightly heavier rod and perhaps a different line strength (80 - 100 pound test Tuf-Line XP) to accommodate the heavier lures for casting or trolling. Probably the best time of the day to fish is early morning, after the water has had the night to cool off a bit. I am not saying that fish won’t be caught during the day or at night…what I am saying is that the high percentage time is early morning. Certainly, if you have a storm moving in and a barometer dropping, you should be considering going on the hunt while taking precautions to protect yourself from a storm’s high winds and lightning. Good fishing…I never thought I would be impatient for the cooler shorter days of September. Tight Lines

Making Sure Your Drag Works By Craig Sandell © 2014 Probably the most important tool of Musky fishing is your reel and the most important function of your reel is the drag system. When you are in the heat of a confrontation with a Musky, you must be able to “play” the fish. That means that you must be able to give it line to prevent straightening a hook and keep pressure on the Musky to prevent it from throwing a hook. Your reel’s drag system is an indispensible element to successfully boating a Musky. Musky anglers all have their own approach to using their reel to help them “play” a Musky. After a hook set, some anglers will back off the drag to allow the fish to take line while using the drag to keep pressure on the fish. Of course, using the reel in this manner requires that the reel drag system is “predictable”. The other approach to playing a Musky is to depress the free spool bar or button and thumb the reel to give the Musky line and keep the pressure on the fish. Each approach has its benefits and draw backs. It should be noted that many Musky anglers use both approaches while fighting a Musky.

A simple trick to assuring that your line does not slip on the reel arbor during a battle is to wrap the arbor with a backing material. I have seen folks use first aid adhesive tape and electrical tape. Either seems to do the job. For those of you who are “old hands” at Musky fishing, you probably already know this. For those of you who are new to Musky angling, this is something that you may wish to incorporate when next you spool your reel with new line. Of course, if the drag on your reel is inconsistent or unreliable, no amount tape backing with help. Make sure that your reel is in good working order before you head out on the water. We Are All In This Together.

The RIGHT Time…The RIGHT Place By Craig Sandell © 2014 Weather is, by far, one of the most important factors to consider when you are on the hunt for Musky. Another important factor is history…I don’t mean what you learned in school but the history on the water you fish regularly. Keeping some kind of log or record of when fish were caught, the lure used, and the prevailing weather at the time can be an invaluable tool to success on the water. This July day started out as a blue bird day with very mild wind from the South. I got out on the water early and hit a steep solid wall of granite drop off hoping to find a fish suspended in 16 feet of water. The hot water temperature, 77°, made this approach as good a plan as any and I had observed a nice sized fish the day before haunting the area. A glide bait was the lure of choice. I fished the spot for 40 minutes without results. A short motor trip and I was at my next spot…a point area adjacent to one of the flowage’s natural lakes. I fished the weeds hugging the drop off of the point as it plunged into deeper water using a bucktail that I bulged over the top of the weeds and back over deeper water. The spot looked great, and the wind was perfect to fish the spot clean but, no one was home. The morning was heating up and I needed a breakfast break…I motored back to the trailer and hopped in the car for breakfast at the Village Kitchen in Radison. (The food is good…the price is right and the people who run the place are the best.)

During my breakfast break, the wind had decided to get ugly…the mild wind transformed into a 15mph blow. I took a look at the water and decided that it would be prudent to take a break and wait for the wind to settle down. After a couple of hours, it became apparent that the wind was here to stay…indeed, it had bumped up to about 20 mph with gusts of 25 mph. I took out my log and looked for some history on fish caught with 20+ mph wind under blue bird skies and elevated water temperature. It didn’t take long to find a spot or two that would fit the weather, so I meandered my way down to the Indian Trail Resort bar and had a beer and a chat with the afternoon bar patrons. I then pushed off from the dock and headed out on the water that had become belligerent with 3-5foot rollers and white caps. I pounded my way across the open expanse of water as I motored toward one of the spots from my Musky log. When I arrived, the wind was coming from the Southwest. In high wind, you have two choices…you can set up for a wind drift or two or three or you can face your boat into the wind using a bow mount trolling motor and cast with the wind over your target area. This day I chose the second approach, positioning my boat into the wind and using the wind to give me long casts over a stump hump that was submerged under 9 feet of water. I moved the boat into the wind to the deep water channel edge and then let the wind scoot me over the target area.

Note: Boat control is a combination of using the wind, varying trolling motor speed and casting accuracy…it isn’t easy, but it gives you a better chance to "hover" cast an area with potential for a Musky. After a frustrating 15 minutes setting up the boat and dealing with some wind induced backlashes, I finally got into the casting groove…casting my bucktail over the target area and using a slow to moderate retrieve. It was another 20 minutes or so into covering the area when I saw the green flash of the side of a Musky as it stalked my lure. He came up from about 8 feet of water to attack my lure in about 3 feet as it was being retrieved. As I kept my retrieve steady, I saw the Musky’s white underside as he snapped the lure up in its gapping mouth…the fight was on. As is the case in many Musky hits, all I had to do was apply firm resistance as the fish set the hook on himself…he immediately went down, taking line off my reel. This was a good tussle and as the Musky breached the surface, he rocketed out of the water and performed a dolphin flip as he reentered his brown stained watery home. We ‘argued’ with each other for a few more minutes until I was able to manipulate him into the net that I had waiting for him. With the fish in the bag, it was time to free him from the lure, take a measurement, snap a photo and then set him free. The way this Musky was hooked demanded that I use my compound bolt cutter to cut the tips of the treble hooks to allow me to free the fish and protect myself as I reached in to take the fish from the net that I kept in the water to minimize the time that the Musky was separated from its oxygen supply.

This chunky Musky measured out at 37 inches and, from the body bulk, was probably around 14 pounds. I snapped a photo of the fish and then set about setting him free. Into the water he went as I supported him upright. I moved him rhythmically back and forth in the water trying to flush water over his gills to revive him. A few minutes later his tail muscles began to tense…A light tap on the head with my finger tips and a squeeze of the tail and he was on his way. I looked over the bottom of the boat that was littered with the aftermath of the battle. He had destroyed my Bucktail and my leader during the battle so I was going to have to re-shaft the lure and make myself a new leader but that is all part of Musky fishing. I motored back to Indian Trail Resort to register my catch, have a beer and a bump and then re-tool my tackle…Another adventure in my pocket and another entry in my Musky log. Tight Lines

Best Barometric Pressure For Fishing By Sean Ward Re-printed with permission from There are all kinds of things that you must keep track of when you’re going fishing. From the type of bait you use, to the rod that works best for a given species of fish, the list of things you have to remember can feel overwhelming. However, knowing the best barometric pressure for fishing is something you absolutely cannot overlook. When you’re considering the best times of day to fish, barometric pressure is one of those daily and seasonal fluctuations that will play a huge role in how many fish you catch – if any. Here’s a quick guide to understanding barometric pressure as it relates to your fishing. What Is Barometric Pressure? Barometric pressure is also referred to as “atmospheric pressure.” It is simply the force that is created by the weight of the air...But wait – isn’t air weightless? To a certain extent, yes. However, the combination of water vapor, gas atoms, and an assortment of other particles all produce a light force on the surface of the earth. At the top of a mountain, you are going to have less air above you than if you were at sea level. Therefore, a location at altitude has a lower barometric pressure than one at sea level.

While barometric pressure remains relatively consistent in a climate, many factors can influence fluctuations related to local weather patterns. These weather patterns create pressure ridges of air that impact the barometric pressure. Numerous factors can impact barometric pressure, but it is ultimately determined by the temperature and the movement of the atmosphere. These two factors can cause both high and low pressure. While high pressure usually creates weather conditions that are clear, dry, and calm, low pressure gives you those days that are undeniably miserable – cloudy, windy, and wet. As a general rule of thumb, air tends to travel from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure, which can intensify the weather conditions I mentioned above. The lower the barometric pressure is in a given area, the closer to the surface the bad weather will fall – and the worse the weather will get where you are, too. What Are The Normal Ranges Of Barometric Pressure? As I mentioned a moment ago, the biggest predictor of barometric pressure will be the local environment. If you live at a high altitude, your barometric pressure will likely be lower. However, there are also “normal” ranges that you might experience and can reference to determine whether it is a high or low-pressure day. A baseline pressure that can be used is about 29-30 inHg (inches Mercury). Again, this depends on your elevation – so you will want to keep track of your local weather patterns to determine the baseline conditions in your area. As a storm system moves into your area, those readings are going to change. Right in the middle of a

storm, barometric pressure readings will be low – about 26 to 29, in general...But as the storm moves out, the barometric pressure will begin to rise. The pressure will gradually creep back up to normal. If it gets higher than 30 inHg, it can be considered a “high pressure” day. How Does Barometric Pressure Affect Fishing? If you’re an experienced angler, you probably already know that the weather impacts fishing. Therefore, it stands to reason that barometric pressure impacts fishing, too, since it affects the weather...Here’s how. Physiological Changes Although fish are far beneath the surface of the water, they can still sense the changes in atmospheric pressure. This is because their organs experience a change of pressure. Fish feel the changes in barometric pressure via their air bladders, also known as swim bladders. These organs are inflated air sacs that help fish maintain their buoyancy. When the barometric pressure goes down, the air bladder will inflate to accommodate for the lessened pressure. When it rises, the bladder will shrink. These organs, responsible for helping to keep fish afloat, will experience pain and discomfort as the pressure changes. They may have a more difficult time staying balanced, too. To a fish, an inflated swim bladder will feel like a bloated belly for a human. Not comfortable, right? That’s why they want to move around to get rid of the pressure in their bellies. This change is especially pronounced in small fish. Fish that are naturally tiny may feel the effects of pressure changes more easily than those that are larger.

As a result, the fish will head out into deeper waters to weather out a storm. This exodus will help them relieve their discomfort and become more balanced, too. By swimming deeper into the water, the fish will enjoy higher pressure from the weight of the water alone. This reduces the size of the swim bladder. It’s not unlike the pressure changes that occur in an airplane when you fly. While we need advanced technology to stay breathing and comfortable, fish are unique because, they have everything they need to make the change themselves. It’s important to note that the pressure change from a normal or even a high-pressure day won’t have much of an impact on the fish. They will feel more comfortable feeding at all levels of the water column and will likely be more active, too. Feeding Times Fish are often more active, in regards to feeding, when the atmospheric pressure is changing. They tend to feed more right before a storm as well as when it’s moving out. Keep an eye on the barometric pressure, because both of these times will be prime time for going fishing. Not All Fish Are The Same What is important to note is that not all fish are the same – some fish are not always impacted by the change in barometric pressure like others are. However, despite not being affected in the same way, all fish are ultimately affected. Even if they don’t notice any changes, it’s likely that the prey they eat will sense the change in pressure. Where prey goes, predatory fish will follow.

So it stands to reason that as prey feel a change in pressure and head to deeper water to weather the storm, the bigger fish are going to follow them, too. High Pressure Vs. Low Pressure For Fishing While you can fish during times of both high and low pressure, the very best time to go fishing is when the barometric pressure is in the process of changing. Again, fish are more likely to feed at these times. If the barometric pressure is dropping, use faster bait. The fish will be more likely to chase it down since they will be feeding more actively and voraciously. Once the pressure starts to rise after being in a period of low pressure, prepare yourself for a brief period of sluggish feeding behavior. The fish might take some time to turn back on. In fact, it can take a full 12 to 24 hours for them to start feeding again once the storm has moved through. Fishing In High Pressure When the weather is good, fishing in high pressure may seem like a cinch. However, there are changes you are going to want to make to improve your fishing success. For starters, you might want to consider your fishing technique. If you are in a kayak or a small boat, you’ll have an advantage as the water will be calm. That being said, don’t be afraid to fish deep waters. Fish might still be hanging out near structures or in the “deep end.” They also might not be quite as active as they would during a change in barometric pressure, even though the weather is good.

Fish will bite at a slow to medium rate and generally hang out near deep water or undercover. Keep in mind that other factors are impacted during periods of stable barometric pressure, too. For instance, lunar phases, water currents, tides, and wind direction can all help you predict where fish are found. Noting these factors can be helpful if you aren’t sure where else to look – or if you think that barometric pressure isn’t the cause of your fishing troubles. Fishing In Low Pressure When the barometric pressure is low, fish will hang out in deep water. As I told you earlier, they will want to stay deep to help keep the pressure equalized and comfortable in their air bladders. Because the fish are hunkered down, waiting for the storm to pass, they aren’t going to be feeding as actively. Your success on the water will likely be impacted – if the fish aren’t biting, you’re not going to catch them. Fishing will likely slow considerably during times of low pressure. They will stop feeding or slow their feeding and hang out in deep water or undercover. However, that’s not to say that you’re totally without hope. You can always try using bait that moves more slowly – and try fishing where you know the fish are hiding – during these times, too. How To Keep Track Of Barometric Pressure Yourself Barometric pressure is measured in various units of measurement. It is typically referred to in mb, or millibars, by meteorologists. That being said, it can also be documented in hectopascals, which is a recognized measurement by the World Meteorological

Organization. In the United States, barometric pressure is also recorded in inches of mercury, or inHg. If you’re trying to get a handle on what the barometric pressure is where you intend to fish, check your phone. Most weather apps will tell you the pressure both now as well as the predicted pressure in the future. Standard pressure (at sea level – you will have to make adjustments for altitude) is 29.92 inHg or 1013 hPa. Anything higher is considered high pressure, and anything lower is low pressure. Most weather services offer easy to read barometers or barometric graphs that show upcoming forecasts in addition to the last few days. It can be helpful to glance at the storm systems and barometric pressure trends that revolve around those trends. This will give you a good idea of how the fishing will be during those times. You can also purchase a barometer for your home. These can be either analog or digital and are relatively easy to read. You can find more information on how to do that by watching this video below. Simple enough, right? If you don’t have a way of keeping track of barometric pressure, just watch the weather. If it’s clear, sunny, and calm – in other words, a bluebird day – you’re dealing with a high-pressure system. So, What Is The Best Barometric Pressure For Fishing? The best barometric pressure for fishing will be somewhere between 29.70 and 30.40. This is best for “normal” fishing – if there’s any new lures or baits you want to try, or any fishing techniques you want to try your hand at, now will be the

time. You won’t have to worry about the weather and the barometric pressure giving you false reading for results on what works and what doesn’t. If you’re not interested in trying anything new but simply want to take advantage of the weather conditions that Mother Nature is giving you, the best time for fishing will be when the weather is rapidly going downhill and deteriorating – in other words when the pressure is falling. Not only will the fish be apt to feed on anything, but they’ll be on the move, too. You’re likely to slam all kinds of fish, even those that are larger and predatory in nature and are less unaffected by changes to their swim bladders. However, if you know how to fish in all kinds of conditions, there’s nothing to say that you can’t make lemons out of lemonade and fish in times of both high and low (or even changing) barometric pressure, too. It’s simply a matter of knowing what techniques work well in these conditions – and what works well for the fish, too! Share this cheat sheet & guide with a fellow angler...Sharing is caring!

How Many Casts???... How Many Anglers?? Craig Sandell © 2006 The old characterization of the Muskie as the fish of 10,000 casts persists even though we have modern equipment meant to better these odds. The stated goal of the Wisconsin DNR for a healthy fishery is to: "Maintain populations that provide a catch rate of 1 fish per 8 muskellunge angling trips, and insure that 35% of those caught will be at least 32 inches." This goal is further amplified by the DNR assertion that the "typical" Muskie angler expends approximately 135 hours to catch 1 legal Muskie. In order to put the 135 hour number in perspective, you must characterize it in the form of an "angler day". An angler day is the amount of time the Muskie angler actually spends actively casting for Muskie. It cannot include the travel time from spot to spot or the time it takes to set up a drift or a motorized approach. [ It should be noted that we are discussing fishing on class "A" Muskie lakes and, therefore, motorized trolling is not a consideration. ] A typical Muskie fanatic will rise before sunrise, prepare his boat, and get out on the water to catch the morning bite. Obviously, the size of the body of water and structure of a body of water will

dictate travel time. Whether successful or unsuccessful during the early morning excursion, the typical angler will take a food break and then start the cycle all over again. This "fish-travelprepare-fish" cycle will continue throughout the day. When you take into consideration the aforementioned, it is easy to conclude that an angler day (actual casting time) is between 8 and 10 hours. For the purpose of this article, we will adopt the 10 hour angler day. That means that at the rate of 1 legal Muskie per 135 hours, it will take an angler 13.5 days to achieve a legal Muskie catch assuming that you are not fishing on water that has an upper 40 or 50 inch size limit. Well, how are YOU doing? Do you catch more than 1 legal Muskie every 13.5 days? Are you fishing for Muskie more than 13.5 days per Muskie season? There are probably as many different answers to these questions as there are visitors to the website. Here's an additional thing to consider. What about fishing pressure? How many anglers are competing for the same population of Muskie on a body of water? Typically, the DNR relies upon creel surveys as an indicator of fishing pressure. Creel surveys, however, are NOT a very accurate assessment of fishing competition. The Wisconsin DNR creel survey, for example, for the Chippewa Flowage for the 1990 Muskie season reported that there were 250,000 angler hours asserted by the creel survey that were focused upon muskellunge. When you consider that the typical season is 165 days in length and you then apply the 10 anglers hours to each of those days you get 1,650 angler hours per season. If you apply 1,650 angler hours (aforementioned) to the 250,000 muskellunge angler hours, you find that it would take 152 muskellunge anglers fishing non-stop for 10 hours a day for 165 days to accumulate the 250,000 hours

asserted by the creel survey. This does not appear to be a realistic angler capability. For further perspective, consider that in 1990 the registered aggregate resort catch for the Chippewa Flowage was 1192 legal Muskie, that would equate to 7.2 muskellunge being caught each day of the 165 day season, meaning that 144.8 fishermen were unable to catch a muskellunge each day of the 165 day season even though they fished non-stop for 10 hours (assuming that each of the 7.2 daily Muskie catches was by a different Muskie angler). This would mean that every day of the season 1,448 hours were logged fishing for muskellunge that were non-productive for a season total of 238,920 non-productive muskellunge angler hours. The 250,000 muskellunge angler hours equates to 1 muskellunge being caught every 210 hours, meaning that a muskellunge angler fished for 21 season days before he caught a muskellunge. For most of you who fish the Chippewa Flowage, your success rate is likely much better than 1 Muskie every 21 days. You can begin to see that assessing fishing pressure and angler success on the water is by no means an exact science as conducted by the Wisconsin DNR using creel surveys. To be frank, it is not science at all. It is a matter of anecdotal information being used to establish a statistical baseline; a practice that leads to reckless assumptions about fish populations, pressure and regulation.

WHERE DO THE MUSKY GO? Craig Sandell © 2013 During the course of the Muskie season, the weather can be your Muskie fishing partner or your enemy. Previous Musky seasons have shown us that when the weather does not cooperate the Muskie fishing will go into the toilet. Aside from rapid swings in barometric pressure, a rapidly moving cold front has probably the greatest effect upon Muskie activity. It doesn't take much of a cold front to turn Muskie off. Actually, a cold front is a double-sided sword. As the cold front approaches and the weather becomes unstable, Muskie tend to put the feed bag on. If weather is coupled with favorable moon conditions, the lucky Muskie angler can really tap into some great fishing. However, once the cold front comes through, things tend to change. The colder weather tends to put a stop to the insect hatches that bring forage fish into the shallows. As the forage fish move into deeper water, the Muskie will either follow the food or take up ambush positions in weedy cover waiting for the return of an

easy meal. The Muskie depicted in RED represent their positions prior to the cold front while the BLUE Muskie are shown in their likely positions after the cold front comes through and the wind shifts to a Northwesterly flow. Don't be discouraged….there are some things you can do to better your chances during this slack period. There are NO guarantees but you can try: • Fish hard from late afternoon to early evening when the water temperature is highest ! • Cast your lures as close to cover as you can…You need to trigger these fish ! • Fish 5 to 10 feet deeper than normal to overcome those Blue Bird Skies ! • Frequent your most productive Muskie spots; Don't explore ! • Use Slightly smaller lures and/or slow your presentation ! In Muskie fishing there are no sure things, however, if you use your knowledge of the water that you are fishing and combine it with knowing where Muskie are likely to be; you have a better chance at success.

HAS CATCH AND RELEASE CREATED FANATICS? By Ron Heidenreich © 2011 While attending our chapter's September1999 Muskie Inc. monthly meeting, a topic that has bothered me for quite some time got me thinking once again. At that moment, quite honestly, I was ashamed to be a member of the club knowing there were guests in attendance. We went through our normal business, and then our contest Chairperson gave her report. She usually reads off some of the larger catches or reports of unusual interest. Because of time constraints they all can't be read. During the presentation she read one affidavit which was accompanied with a letter explaining this members trip of a lifetime. The member and his partner each caught tremendous fish, 52" and 54" respectively. The letter went on to say that they choose to harvest each trophy. Before the letter was completed SNICKERS and SNIDE REMARKS were being uttered by our own M. I. members in the background. They apparently felt that these fisherman shouldn't have kept their fish, and let it be known. I was only thankful that the member wasn't there to hear this. Was this jealousy or just plain fanaticism? My guess is both. Some of these very people probably haven't caught a Muskie near the size of these two. Further, NO MUSKIE FISHERMAN has the right to determine what is or is not a trophy for others.

Having said that, it brings me to the next segment of this writing. Only a few weeks later I found myself in the same position as the previously mentioned members. But first I must give you a short history of myself, if only to lend some credibility to my point of view. I have been seriously fishing for Muskies since 1971. I have fished my way through the years when every 30" Muskie was killed, through early stages of catch-and-release, and continuing to where we are today. My last kept Muskie was a 30-pound fish I caught in November of 1979. It's possible I may have killed more, who knows. I do truly believe in catch-and-release providing common sense is applied. On October 24, 1999, I used a sucker to catch a 46 1/2 " 29pound 7-ounce Muskie. Even though my partner and I made an extensive effort to release her, she died, nonetheless. I suppose I could have given her a little shove, watched her glide away, and come in at the end of the day and thumped my chest. After all, I had just released a 30-pound class muskie. But I didn't. Now I have an affidavit for a muskie I caught and kept a trophy in every sense of the word, and I felt compelled not to turn it in to my chapter for fear of being ridiculed and embarrassed by my fellow members. No one should have to feel like this. I went to our monthly board meeting in November and this topic was discussed at length. Many board members were aware of the comments made and they were disappointed at what had happened during the September general membership meeting. I eventually did submit the affidavit. Two months later I noticed in the 'Lunge Log that my Muskie was the smallest fish in the Men's Kept Division for the year. I find it hard to believe that a thirty-pound class fish was the smallest fish

killed in ALL of Muskies Inc. in 1999. Maybe other members aren't comfortable admitting they kept or killed one! Think about this: When was the last time someone admitted releasing an unreleasable fish? Due to peer pressure we've put on ourselves, it's probably happening more often than we want to believe. Has this peer pressure turned us into complete FANATICS? Just maybe we need to take a real hard look in the mirror. This kind of thinking - that every muskie must be released - is not healthy. At last count in the 1999 Muskies Inc. Members Only Contest, we registered 9,208 fish. Who knows how many more weren't registered? Only fifteen of them were kept. Does anyone truely believe we released 9,193 live and VIABLE muskies? I wonder. All those anglers, warm water, cold water, trolling, casting, suckers, landing nets, hand landing, and last but not least photos! To how many fish did we give a little shove, then come in and thump our chests and say that we released them, when in reality we ultimately made turtle food out of them? Why would muskie anglers do that? Because we've been taught that every muskie MUST be released to fight another day. Right? Or are we afraid to ADMIT to keeping one? I 'd bet the latter occurs a lot more than we want to believe. If you don't believe the intensity of this "you must let 'em go" mentality, check out how Muskie anglers sign-off on the website message boards on Muskie Inc. and Musky Hunter Magazine (ie. let 'em go, let 'em grow, or let 'em live, etc.). Every speaker at every seminar concludes his presentation by hammering home the catch-and-release philosophy. That mindset is deeply rooted, although the basic philosophy is not entirely bad. Muskies Inc. has done its job promoting catch-and-release, and I don't mean it sarcastically. We should release Muskies but it shouldn't be considered the end of the world if we harvest one.

The bass and walleye clubs that I'm familiar with are very committed to catch-and-release. Those fisheries are also susceptible to over harvest but their membership isn't subjected to the high level of peer pressure we put on ourselves. I think our various boards within Muskies Inc. and all other Muskie clubs in the country should examine this. We need to educate our current members and the future Muskie anglers that releasing fish is great and should be done whenever possible, but don't ridicule and scorn those who choose to harvest one. We don't always know the circumstances of every fish caught, and the fact that what is a trophy to one person may not be a trophy to another. You never know, you might be the next person to be in this unenviable spot If we don't examine this issue we will all soon be looked upon as true FANATICS, in every sense of the word, and that isn't very glamorous. FANATIC (fa nat 'ik) noun, a person inspired with excessive and bigoted enthusiasm.

Catch And Release - Time For Some Straight Talk by Craig Sandell © 2013 This article is going to make a lot of people angry but it's time for some straight talk about catch and release and the negative effect that it is having on the Musky fisheries in Wisconsin. As most of you know who follow the Musky issues in Wisconsin, there is a philosophy being put forward by the Wisconsin DNR to have a universal size limit of 50 inches for musky on all Wisconsin Musky lakes. That is just plain stupid…actually a 50 inch size limit is stupid. You would think that people educated in fishery biology would have a better grasp of what it takes to have a healthy and productive Musky fishery. The short sighted fishery policy being put forward by Wisconsin fishery management people seems to support a belief that "age and education are no guarantee of competency or intelligence". Every Musky lake in Wisconsin has a limited forage base that can only support a limited number of Musky...That is what is commonly called "Carrying Capacity". The application of what amounts to a 100% release policy has resulted in the population

of Musky being unchecked and thereby overloading the carry capacity of many of the Northern Wisconsin Musky fisheries.. It doesn't take a degree in biology, just a little common sense, to recognize that too many Musky chasing too little forage will result in Musky that will never reach their growth potential. If you truly value our Musky fisheries, get your head out of your butt and deal with that reality. Certainly, there was a time back in 1969 when our musky fisheries were in need of drastic measures to save them from complete collapse. With the establishment of Muskies Inc., a voice for the policy of catch and release became a reality. In today's reality however, blind allegiance to catch and release has become the mantra of the fanatic. Catch and release now has the potential to destroy our fisheries for Musky and Walleye and Bass as well. High Size Limits Do Not A Trophy Musky Fishery Make!!! The Wisconsin DNR has not done a forage base assessment based upon boom shocking on these lakes for years. The guides who service these lakes are seeing Musky lakes, once considered a trophy lake, degrade to action lakes. The populations of perch, cisco and other forage fish on these lakes are no longer abundant enough to feed the predator species. Musky have to eat so if forage is not available they will turn to Walleye and Bass to fill their belly. The Wisconsin DNR, which is charged with stewardship of Wisconsin’s fisheries, continues to ignore its responsibility to inject informed fact into the discussions that happen at the Conservation Congresses that happen each year. The panel of

DNR representatives at these Congresses sits quietly in front of each gathering offering no counterpoint to an audience stacked with folks who have been duped into believing that larger size limits are the only approach to creating trophy fisheries. Then the DNR pronounces that "the will of the people" has dictated the need for higher Musky size limits while offering no informed biological assessment of the impact of such size limits upon the long term health of the fishery. It's not like the DNR doesn't appreciate the importance of the forage base to a healthy Musky fishery. In a recent article from the WDNR penned by Tim Simonson, he included a chart of the belly contents from kept and mounted Musky.

The chart he included is from 1994. The chart shows the importance of the forage base to a healthy Musky fishery. Unfortunately, due to the higher size limits resulting in 100% release of Musky, there is no current information on what Musky are eating but it is unlikely that dietary preferences have changed very much. So, if the forage base is this important to the health of a Musky fishery, why isn't the WDNR doing forage base assessments on Wisconsin Musky fisheries on a regular basis? The WDNR will most likely try to blame a shrinking budget but that is just another copout to avoid the development of good science. They seem to have the money to pay for useless creel surveys and uncertified Musky telephone surveys. As an example, lets look at Northeastern Wisconsin. As you can see from the illustration at the left, this area has a good population of water that is considered to be Musky fisheries. Many of these lakes were once considered "big fish" waters; among them Star Lake and Preque Isle Lake. They had that reputation because there was a robust forage base supporting a nominal Musky population. Today, that is not the case.

The higher Musky size limits and stocking practices have resulted in extreme pressure being placed upon the forage base. The result, according to local guides who have been fishing these waters for years, is that there are too many Musky chasing too little food. These lakes are now considered action lakes rather than trophy lakes. That was not the published goal of the WDNR when they increased the size limit on these lakes. The published WDNR goal was to enhance the trophy potential of these lakes through higher size limits. Of course, the WDNR station at Boulder Junction has no perspective or comment on the decline of these lakes. The reason for this lack of WDNR knowledge is the direct result of two major factors; 1.) The absence of a Musky population assessment prior to the imposition of higher Musky size limits and 2.) The disregard for the effect that higher Musky size limits would have on the forage base. So, what is it that I am suggesting to address the emerging decline of Wisconsin's Musky fisheries? Well, I am NOT suggesting that the WDNR needs to change...that is a lost cause. The WDNR has evolved into to a self-serving, self-propagating bureaucratic wasteland. • If Wisconsin's Musky fisheries are to be prevented from further decline and eventual collapse, the change has to come at our insistence. • We need to insist that the WDNR start a regular program of forage base assessments and, where indicated, start re-

stocking the forage base to balance the fisheries rather than to continue the stocking of Muskies. • We need to petition for the reduction of the size limits for Musky down to 44 inches so that pressure on the forage base can be reduced. • We need to discourage the policy of blind fanaticism promoted by Muskies, Inc. to catch and release and encourage a sensible holistic approach to enhancing our Musky fisheries. I am sure that there will be resistance to common sense taking the control of Wisconsin's Musky fishery policy away from commercial publications like Musky Hunter Magazine whose focus is on making a buck rather than the long-term health of our fisheries...After all, common sense is not necessarily a productive marketing approach. That is the other element to the problem that needs to be addressed. We have got to stop letting a small group of money motivated self-involved cult enthusiast assert control over long term Musky fishery policies.

A New Face for the Musky Angler By: Craig Sandell © 2020 Dirty, odiferous, un-kept and obsessed…all descriptions of the Muskie angler on the prowl for this fresh water shark. We have all seen him…up before dawn and stumbling his way down to the dock, poles and tackle box in hand. Setting out from the dock, his boat is consumed by the morning mist as he makes his way to the place where Muskie are found. Now, some would find this description of the dedicated Muskie angler almost ‘romantic’. Truth be told, however, there is a high price paid by the Muskie angler for this narrowly focused pursuit of this single tenacious species…a price that is not only financial, but physical and emotional as well. Each year there has been a change in what has come to be known as the ‘typical’ Muskie angler. I noticed the change at Muskie Shows over the past few years. You are no longer fighting your way through the isles at Musky shows. The crush of Musky anglers has dwindled to a relative trickle a bit each year and they are somewhat better dressed, there are father/son duos and they seem to be more interested in finding someone who could put them on to a fish rather than discovering the tactics and methods that would allow them to find their own quarry. Is this an aberration? No, Muskie shows in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota enforce the observation. What

changed? Everything has changed. Today the ‘instant gratification’ syndrome of society has made its way to Muskie angling and with that attitude has emerged a new perception of the Muskie angling sport. Muskie are no longer exclusive to the Northern latitudes and can be found all across America. The modern Muskie angler is more disposed to ‘stay in his own backyard’ than to travel hundreds of miles to fish unless he can be ‘guaranteed’ a Muskie. Traditional Muskie resorts all over Wisconsin are seeing a change in their clientele from Muskie anglers to families on vacation. Fishing pressure for Muskie has, consequently, fallen off sharply. To traditional Muskie anglers like myself, this is great…less competition on the water…less boat traffic in traditional Muskie areas and a more relaxed approach to the hunt. But what about the future? Will the sport of Muskie angling be relegated to the same category as deep-sea marlin fishing, where day fishermen are willing to spend money to have someone ‘catch them a fish’ rather than learn how to do it themselves…not likely...not in this or any economy. What is more likely is that this ‘modern Muskie angler’ will evolve into someone who used to fish for Muskie or someone who joins the ranks of other dedicated Muskie anglers who have come to realize that there is no ‘magic bullet’ to being successful at Muskie angling. To all of you who are trying out the adventure that is Muskie angling…WELCOME! I would, however, submit to you that although the thrill of having a Muskie on the line is exhilarating, the thrill of actually planning a hunt, executing that plan and

catching a Muskie that you discovered is an experience that will enrich you all your life. I’ll see you on the water.

Intelligent Harvesting In Bone Lake.... It's a Question of Balance Craig Sandell © 2020 There have recently been movements to increase the minimum size limit for Musky to 48, 50 and even 55 inches, thereby assuring an almost 100% catch & release. For those of us who suffered through the "Bad Old Days" when almost every Musky caught was kept, the concept of a 100% catch and release regulation seems to make sense. There is, however, sound reasoning that indicates that intelligent harvesting of Musky in a fishery will actually make that fishery a better fishery. This reasoning is based upon the concept known as "Carrying Capacity." We all deal with the concept of "Carrying Capacity" every day. If you overload your truck or car you may break a spring, if you overload the electrical outlet you may blow a fuse and if you overload a fishery you may end up doing more harm than good. Preliminary findings from the Wisconsin DNR's study of Bone Lake brings the concept of carrying capacity into a clearer focus. Bone Lake has enjoyed the benefit of Musky stocking for many years. The larger size of the fingerlings released has increased the survival rate of stocked fish. Consequently, the Musky population is robust. However, the rate at which Musky are growing is less than what was

expected. Indeed, the average size of mature musky has actually declined. Bone Lake is right on the cusp of having too may fish chasing too little forage. As another example, lets take one of the Wisconsin lakes where a 50 inch limit has been imposed for no other reason than to attempt to create a "Trophy Fishery". Lac Courte Oreilles is identified by the DNR as a Class "B" lake. That means that the lake is not capable of sustaining a completely viable Musky population without some stocking intervention. The pyramid chart shown here demonstrates a normal profile for a fishery and, for the purposes of this discussion, we will assume that Lac Courte Oreilles was balanced in this manner prior to the 50 inch size limit. The Musky at the top of the pyramid represent a population of top line predator that is small enough so as not to put undue stress upon the other resources of the fishery. The population of the mid-level predators is larger than the Musky population but not so big as to overtax the forage base that occupies the lowest level of the fishery pyramid. As long as this fishery maintains a relative balance between

these pyramid levels, the fishery will be healthy and productive within its capacity. Now that Lac Courte Oreilles has a 50 inch Musky limit, the harvest of Musky will be significantly reduced. The Musky that are the "eating machines" will not be culled and will therefore place pressure upon the mid-level predators as they seek to satisfy their appetite. (This has been seen in Bone Lake.) The hour glass chart shown here is a projection of how the balance of the fishery may be distorted over time. As more and more Musky eat more of the mid-level predators, they make it more difficult for the mid-level predators to establish a mature spawning population. The numbers of the midlevel predator will decline making it harder for Musky to catch the fish they must in order to have normal growth patterns. As mid level predator numbers decline, the forage base will undergo a population expansion. These increased numbers will eventually place a greater burden upon the ecological system of the fishery. Unless the mid-level forage base is replenished, the fishery will move toward an imbalance that will eventually cause the collapse of the fishery. True, mid-level predators can have their populations increased by stocking. Of course, stocking is an expensive activity and with the imbalance at the top of the food chain,

the only thing that stocking will accomplish will be to provide more food for the Musky. The other solution is to harvest some of the Musky and relieve the stress upon the mid-level predator population thereby placing us right back where we started before the 50 inch limit was imposed. Although most Musky anglers consider themselves 'extremists' when it comes to conservation of the Musky resource through a devotion to catch & release; it appears as though, in some instances, conservation and care of the fishery is better served through the application of intelligent harvesting.

SURFACE BAIT ENTICEMENTS John Dettloff © 2011 Reprinted from the book Surface Bait Subtleties by permission There are many types of enticements that trigger Muskies into striking surface baits. First off, when fishing for active, shallow water Muskies, (fish that are relating to the surface) keep in mind that it is not uncommon for a Musky to see your lure coming through the air, just before it hits the water. Some strikes will come simultaneously as your lure hits the water. So, be ready for it! Remember that Muskies' eyes are on the top of their heads and they look upward. They have been known to grab at low flying birds that skim the water for insects. I once had a musky dart out from underneath his haunt, come out of the water, and grab my Topper while it was still six inches above the water! If you fish long enough, you'll be amazed at what can happen. The next, and one of the key enticements to be aware of, is the period of time just after your lure hits the water. The splash of your lure is often a big attractor to a feeding Musky. And because the majority of strikes come just after the lure splashes down,… and setting hooks with a surface lure tends to be more difficult… make sure you stop your reel spool with your thumb to take the bow out of your line just before your lure hits the water. With a tight line you'll have a strong hook set when those early strikes come.

Other key enticements that trigger many strikes are the subtle wrist action twitches or lure speed-ups that I only like to use sparingly during each cast. (Remember: one twitch will go a long way.) When I get a follow on a surface lure, I never like to stop my lure. The musky is entranced on the lure's vibration (or sound) and, if the lure stops, so does the vibration. As far as the Musky's concerned, the lure is gone, and he may lose interest. When I spot a follow behind a "prop bait", (a Globe or Topper) I'll continue to keep the lure coming its normal speed for a few feet. And if the musky doesn't strike, I'll try a very slight speed-up and then a light twitch. I keep repeating these steps until the lure gets near the boat. But when I spot a follow behind a Creeper, Hawg Wobbler, or Mud Puppy-type lure (lures with much built-in action), there is little I can do to add further enticement so, aside from very slight occasional speed-ups, I'll just keep the lure coming at its regular