Musky America Magazine December Edition

Musky America Magazine December 2022 Edition Thank you for visiting Musky America Magazine! The lakes are ice bound and soon it will be the start of the Musky show season. Now is the perfect time to take a look at your lures and tackle to see what, if anything, you need to get to support your Musky fishing during the 2023 season. Did you have a 2022 Musky adventure? Share that adventure and write an article! Each day of the Musky season, anglers experience encounters on the water that can provide insights for all of us Musky anglers. We are offering $10.00 for your article. 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©*

Multi-Rod Approach For Musky By Craig Sandell © 2010 Why do Muskie anglers use more than one rod? There are many reasons but the main reason relates directly to the lures we use. If you have fished for Muskie for a couple of years, you have accumulated a few different lures…you undoubtedly have bucktails, crankbaits, jerkbaits and perhaps surface baits. Each of the lures come in different sizes and weights and each requires a different presentation technique. The difference in the lures dictates different rod, reel and line selections in order to accommodate the different demands upon lure presentations. This article will try to set some general guidelines for line, rod and reel selection for each of lure types. First, however, we need to discuss rod loading. What the heck is a rod loading? Rod loading refers to the transfer of the casting momentum from your arm to the rod and from the rod to the lure. The stiffness of the rod, the flexibility of the rod tip and the weight of the line and the lure will all have an effect upon the loading of the rod. A good match of rod weight, line weight and lure weight combined with a good casting technique, will result in the maximum transfer of casting momentum from your arm to the lure…resulting in good casting distance and lure placement control.

For example; if you have a heavy weight rod with a "broom stick" backbone without a flexible rod tip and you are using a bait casting reel loaded with 40 pound micron line, you are not going to get much casting efficiency or control if you try to cast a ½ ounce bucktail. Conversely, if you have a light weight rod with a flexible rod tip and a reel loaded with 50 pound TUF line, you are going to have a problem trying to cast a 3½ ounce jerkbait. In the first instance the rod will not transfer your casting momentum and in the second instance the rod will ‘overload’ and negate casting momentum and lure placement control. You can begin to see that your tackle configuration is directly related to your casting and presentation success. As a visual example of rod loading, the seven pictures shown below will provide some perspective. (The pictures are courtesy of John Dettloff from his book Top Water Tactics and Tales.)

Armed with a perspective of rod loading, lets discuss the approach to different lure types: Bucktails In very general terms, the bucktail is a lightweight lure with a very uncomplicated presentation…You cast it out and reel it in. The rod you use should be at least 6½ or 7 feet in length. Because you are not casting a heavy lure, the rod should be on the "light weight" side with a medium backbone for a good hook set and a flexible rod tip for maximum rod loading. The 6½ or 7 foot rod length in a nominal length. With it you can get a good loading of the rod and good casting control. A longer rod may work better for a boat side figure 8 but you have to be

careful not to overload the rod with a heavy bucktail like the large Eagletail or Cowgirl. Suggestion: Layout all of the bucktails in which you have confidence. Get the rod that you have designated as your bucktail rod. Get the reel that you want to use (at least a 4.7:1 ratio) and load it with the line of your choice. Cast each of your bucktails with the rod/reel combination to be sure that the lure casts well and that you are able to accurately place the lure where you want it to be…Remember that you want to fight the Musky not the rod. Crank/Twitch/Jerk Baits Traditionally, these types of lures are usually used with a heavier weight of rod and heavier line. With the advent of spectra line, heavier line is less used than in the past and therefore a more streamlined rod can be used. As with the bucktail rod, 6½ or 7 feet is a good nominal length but the rod should be a medium weight rod. The heavier weight rod will make it easier to handle the action of a crankbait. The real consideration here is the weight of the lure. This type of nominal rod setup will support most medium sized crankbaits and jerkbaits. If you are tossing heavier lures, like the Bull Dawg, you will need to setup a heavier rod with line that has a tensile strength of 80 pound spectra or 40 pound braided micron. Suggestion: As with the bucktails, layout all of the crank/twitch/jerk baits in which you have confidence and cast each using the rod and reel you have chosen. Make sure that the rod does not under or overload and test your casts for accuracy. Ensure that the lure action during retrieve meets you expectation.

Surface Lures These lures tend to run a bit heavier than a bucktail and a bit lighter than a crank/twitch/jerk bait. With today’s spectra lines, you can probably use a rod of medium weight and backbone with a flexible tip. I would recommend the use of a reel with a 6.3:1 retrieve speed. This will provide you the flexibility to easily vary the action of the lure during the retrieve. The length can also be 6½ or 7 feet. Suggestion: As with the other two types of lures, layout the lures in which you have confidence and cast each to be sure that you are getting the action you expect and the accuracy you require. In Summary I have tried to give you some general guidelines for rod/reel/lure configuration. I recognize that the nominal approaches discussed may not be effective using very light or very heavy lures. You will have to experiment with some different configurations to discover which will most compliment your fishing approach. Talk to other Musky anglers and ask them how they deal with different lure and rod weights. As a closing consideration, remember that you are going to be on the water casting for a good part of each fishing day. Heavier rods are harder to cast for long periods, but lighter rods may not give you the control and hook set that you need. There is more to Musky fishing than just picking up any rod and reel and lure. Having a plan of attack and complimenting that attack with balanced tackle will increase your odds of success on the water. Tight Lines

Lure Selection... A Monthly Profile By: Craig Sandell © 2017 Before we get too deep into this, remember, the month of May is a truncated fishing month, and the month of November is typically cold weather musky fishing using live bait. The table shown below is the basis for the graphs that display a picture of lure production over the seasonal months. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Bucktail 12 128 77 124 107 16 Surface 2 93 102 188 153 4 Crank 16 16 13 17 19 18 Jerk 1 7 11 16 37 25 Live 7 2 4 3 28 74 The chart shown below provides a more detailed perspective on what lures worked well for each of the months of the season. As you can see, there are some predictable lure patterns in the chart presentation. One of the interesting patterns, though, is related to crank baits.

The interesting thing is not the number of Musky caught on crank baits. What is interesting is that even though the crank bait catch quantities for each month are generally low, the productivity of the crank bait was consistent over 6 of the 7 months of the season. Although trolling is allowed on the Chippewa Flowage, the crank bait does not get a lot of use because of the relatively shallow water and the abundance of sub-surface clutter even in the deeper river channels. This study would seem to indicate that a crank bait is a good lure choice for almost any time, assuming you are fishing the type of cover and depth of water most conducive to the crank bait. Not surprisingly, bucktails and surface baits account for the majority of the Musky caught over the Musky season. The study shows that bucktails and surface baits are producers, however, you MUST keep in mind that these are classic Musky bait categories. The high numbers of Musky caught on them could be related to the fact that more people are fishing with these types of lures than with other lure types. The jerk bait also shows some productivity over 6 of the 7 months of the season although

September and October have higher catch totals than the other months for the jerk baits. Once again, this could be related to the fact that not as many people fish jerk baits as other lure types. Personally, I didn't get confidence in the use of the jerk bait until relatively recently. Once I started using the jerk bait, I found that it produced Musky and was useable in almost any condition of weather and structure. The live bait catch information is not a surprise either. Late in the season is live bait time, however, many people swear by the technique of hanging a sucker over the side, while casting other lure types, throughout the Musky season or what is referred to as "Suckering Musky". Well, are bucktails and surface baits the most productive lures? The catch statistics would appear to tell us that, however, we need to be sure that we are not "shortchanging" other lure types. What is the best approach to lure selection? When I fish I have 3 rods set up with different line weights, different reels with different retrieve ratios and different lure types. I try to balance the use of each of the artificial lure types, depending, of course, on the condition and depth of the water and the prevailing weather.

The Quest For A Weedless Musky Lure By Craig Sandell © 2020 Throughout the Musky season, weeds are an unavoidable consideration when fishing for our Musky friend. In the early Spring, we are searching for emerging weeds and as the season progresses. we are seeking methods to fish close to the weed edges. We all know that emerging cold fronts have Musky holding deeper next to weedy areas or even right into the weed. These Musky movements have Musky anglers looking for ways to fish Musky when they are in tight to or deep in the weeds Over the years, there has been a parade of weedless Musky lures that offered the promise of a solution to fishing in the weeds. Some of these weedless lures are somewhat successful and some just flat don’t work. When you consider that we are trying drag a spinning mechanical device, bristling with hooks through a tangle of underwater vegetation, it is amazing that anything can successfully navigate that type of obstacle. I recently had the opportunity to visit a custom lure and tackle outlet in Boulder Junction Wisconsin, Janie’s Flies. While I was there, I came across a weedless lure configuration that deserves some serious consideration as we look to the 2014 Musky season. Janie Harpster, the owner of Janie’s Flies, has put together a weedless Musky Lure configuration that is a very interesting approach.

The lure has either a single or tandem #5 French blade. The lure is also equipped with a 4/0 or 6/0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook. The interesting twist is a rubber creature that is configured with a slit in the body of the rubber creature where the Gamakatsu EWG Hook fits comfortably. This configuration allow for the point of the hook to be inserted into the rubber creature in a manner to maximize the lure’s weedless potential. The lure is configured with opposing tinsel to give the lure a larger cross section during the retrieve.

Janie recommends one of her stranded leaders to enhance the weedless lure's effectiveness. I have never been a fan of stranded leaders because many manufactures use a crimp to secure the tag ends. Janie's Multi-species 7-Strand wire Leaders are hand tied using a custom knot along with a series of wire wraps that eliminate the need for crimps or sleeves. The quality barrel swivel and Duo-Lock snap make for a quality stranded wire leader. Visit her website at and checkout "Ramit Weedless Tinsel Lures". Tight Lines

Crankbaits To Consider Craig Sandell © 2010 Wiley Lures have a reputation for being some of the best straight and jointed crankbaits available to Musky anglers. Every Wiley Lure is individually water-tested on a rod and reel in a local pond to assure proper action, then resealed with clear coat so they are ready for serious Musky fishermen and women. The "Wiley" name is on every lure belly. If it’s not there, it’s not an original Wiley Lure. You can buy these quality crafted lures online at Jackson Lures.

What Price Muskie??? Craig Sandell © 2015 So you want to fish Muskie. Are you ready to pay the price? What price? The price to re-outfit your tackle to handle the most tenacious fresh water sport fish. That bass tackle you’ve got just doesn’t have the guts…so you will need to invest in some new tackle. Rods Lets start with rods. You are going to need at least two rods. One should have medium action for casting bucktails and crank baits. The other should have some good back bone to allow you to cast the heavier surface lures and jerk baits that are commonly used for Muskie fishing. Both rods should be at least 6½ feet with fore grip and an 18 inch handle. I have my rods made for me. I have always been disappointed by rods "Off-The-Rack". My custom made rods cost me $195.00 each and I will use this figure as part of the ‘cost-to-Muskie-fish’ calculation…you may find something you like for less. (Two rods times $195.00 = $390.00) Two Rods = $390.00 Reels You are going to need bait casting reels. The reason for this is because of the tactics associated with Muskie fishing as much as with the Muskie itself. Part of the formula for good Muskie fishing is being able to cast with reasonable precision. You will want to

place a lure precisely along weed lines and in heavy wood. In order to do that consistently, you will discover the need to control the line as your lure strips it from the reel. This is accomplished by a method called thumbing. That is…using your thumb to apply pressure to the line as your eye gauges the trajectory of the lure in relationship to the casting target. Also, Muskie have a habit of following a lure up to the boat and striking as a figure eight is executed. Once again, thumbing is a required tactic. When a fish hits short (by the boat) you will need to give it some line so that it can’t use the boat as a banging stake to dislodge the lure. You will also need line to play the fish in order to be able to land it safely. Hitting the ‘free spool’ as you apply thumb pressure to the line will accomplish that goal. You can’t do that with a spinning reel. The main staple of the average Muskie angler is the Abu Garcia 5500, 5600, 6500 or 6600 models of reels. There are other reels from other manufacturers that will also do the job. You will need one for each of your two rods and you will need a backup reel just in case. The average price for these is around $140.00 each. (Three reels times $140.00 = $420.00) Our running total is $810.00 Line You are going to need some Muskie line. I am partial to 80 or 100 LB. TUF Line Spectra. You may have a different choice, however, consider that the line should be reasonably fray resistant, with low stretch, reasonably water proof, while possessing good casting characteristics. For the purposes of this discussion, 600 yards of 80 lb. TUF Line is around $120.00. Our running total is $930.00

Tackle/Tools You are going to need a different tackle box to hold the larger lures. Typically, you can figure on a nominal cost of $30.00. You will need solid wire steel leaders. Figure $10.00 for a good assortment of quality leaders. You will need to get some tools for Muskie fishing as well. Foremost is a handheld compound bolt cutter…about $52.00. You will also need a hookout, hook sharpening file, long nose pliers, spilt ring pliers, long handled channel lock pliers, mouth spreaders, waterproof flashlight, heavy duty nail clippers for your line, and a small tool kit in which to keep them so that they don’t get mixed up with your lures in your tackle box. All together this will likely run you another $135.00. Our running total is $1157.00 Lures You are going to need a reasonable assortment of lures. Figure at least 5 bucktails, 5 variations of crank bait, 4 types of surface lure and 4 types of jerk bait. Around $400.00 ought to do it. Our running total is $1557.00 Miscellaneous Stuff

How to put a price tag on this? Everyone will end up with a different amount. Consider, however, the cost for extra hooks, split rings, impulse items you buy on a whim, some better rain gear, some better polarized sun glasses, a net large enough for Muskie, etc…As a budgetary number lets use $350.00. Our running total is $1,907.00 There you are…outfitted and ready and $1,907.00 poorer. Of course, you still have to pay for food, lodging, gas, oil, maybe boat rental, license and of course there is always the bar bill over and above your initial investment in equipment. Everyone says that Muskie fishing isn’t easy. You will spend long hours on the water. You will spend many hours casting. You will spend countless hours preparing your tackle and researching the Muskie. The operative word here is SPEND. As a Muskie angler, you will pay a high price in time, frustration and money to be able to successfully match yourself against this freshwater denizen of the deep. If this article has caused you to think twice about getting involved in Muskie angling…GOOD. It is only the angler that is dedicated enough to be willing to pay the price who will eventually succeed. Oh, yes. There is one other thing. LUCK!!!…For that there is no price tag.

Tony Rizzo…Musky Hunter Extraordinaire By Craig Sandell © 2012 We have all heard many claims by Musky notables over the course of the years that we have been haunting the water in search of the elusive and tenacious Musky. Throughout the years though, one Musky angler stands above the rest by virtue of his time on the water, his impressive tally of fish and his many informative books; that man is Tony Rizzo. I recently had the opportunity, and great pleasure, to meet with Tony in his home. Tony is 77 years old but took time out of his busy guiding schedule to meet with me and share the hospitality of his home. As we descended the stairs into his basement, I was struck by the pictures of the musky catches of a lifetime which adorned his basement walls. There was scarcely a wall space that did not

have a photo of Tony and his many guide clients holding some very impressive Musky. When I commented on the "wall coverings", Tony casually said that there were about 100 more photos for which there was no space. Tony took me around the basement photo gallery stopping at almost every photo to share with me the particulars of the size and date of the catch and the name of the guide client. I was so impressed with his recall that I had to ask him how he could recall so many of these catches. Tony smiled and without hesitation took me over to a place where there were notebooks on a shelf. He took one down at random and opened it for my inspection. Those of you who have fished the Chippewa Flowage for at least 15 years remember the day when each resort had a Musky chart that had the date of the catch, the name of the angler, the size of the catch, the bait used and the prevailing weather. As I began to page through Tony’s records, I could see that Tony had detailed

each catch the same way along with the lake or river upon which the Musky was caught…Impressive! As we began to talk about Tony’s exploits and accomplishments, Tony directed my attention to the results of the Villas County Muskie Marathon. Tony was quite proud, and rightfully so, of the success of himself and his clients in this marathon. Tony or his guide clients were ranked in the top ten catches in a substantial number of years from 1971 to 2010. Date Ranking Name Weight in pounds Size in inches 11/15/1971 4 Bill Heoft 37 48.5 9/22/1972 4 Clenn Marcintoni 39 52.5 10/24/1972 3 Tony Rizzo 41 52 9/14/1974 5 Stan Smith 35 49 11/14/1975 3 Sam Rizzo 39 52 8/5/1977 7 Hank Levine 35 50 9/6/1978 8 Bob Hamm 33.5 50 11/11/1978 1 Ed Brown 46 54 11/18/1978 5 Web Smith 34 51.5 9/16/1981 10 Tony Rizzo 36 50 11/26/1983 8 Tony Rizzo 32.5 47.5 7/6/1984 6 Don Wendt 35 51.5 11/11/1986 5 Arlo Carney 35 50 10/13/1987 10 Dave Steiger 34.25 49.25 9/15/1988 5 Brian Fannig 38.5 52.75 10/29/1988 6 Jon Geotzke 38 50.5 11/2/1990 8 Bill Holtsman 34.5 50 10/10/1997 6 Bill Richter 31.5 48.5 11/5/1997 1 Bill Witty 38 51.5 10/31/1998 9 Jim Kenney 33 49 11/12/1998 3 Jim Seivert 39 51.5 10/11/2000 2 Bob Willoughby 37 50.5 10/26/2006 3 Kurt Savageau 33 50 10/29/2010 4 Dave Wiesheit 37 50.25

Toward the end of my visit with Tony, I asked him why his lifetime of Musky action on the water was not chronicled on the internet or in Musky information magazines. His answer was simple…No One Asked. It only took me half a heartbeat to ask Tony if he would allow Musky America to reprint some of his articles on the Musky America website…a request to which he happily agreed. So starting this November, Musky America will begin sharing with all of you selected articles of Tony Rizzo. As usual, it is my hope that the information contained in these articles will provide the insight that we all seek as we do our best to achieve our Personal Best on the water.Tight Lines

THE CRANKBAIT BASICS By David Christian © 2000 Crankbaits are those lures with the larger diving lips that produce a wide wobble as they are retrieved and usually are considered to be deep running baits. We have all used them at one time or another. The crankbait is a Muskie hunters' most versatile lure; it can be worked just under the surface or to depths of 15'+. The shallow running crankbait must be moved along at a quick pace to maintain its depth. These lures are a dynamite presentation to use when the muskellunge is active and feeding shallow. But what about the neutral fish? The deep diving crankbait can be used in many different situations; it can be worked slow, fast or at medium retrieval speeds. You can stop the buoyant crankbait and it will rise and back away from most obstructions easily. The crankbait can be a solid, straight model or can be a jointed lure. The straight or onepiece version will work through the timber and around other obstacles easier, while the jointed model will give an illusion of faster speeds and provide a clicking sound at the union. Most large crankbaits contain some type of rattle chamber to attract curious fish and will be constructed of hard plastic. The crankbait is more than just a lure to cast and retrieve back to the boat. It is a tool, especially to the Muskie hunter. The crankbait should be used as a tool to locate and probe the waters for hidden structure such as timber, humps, bars, rock and deep weeds. Hopefully with the techniques you learn here,

crankbaits will become another tool in your quest for the denizen of the deep. BANGIN' THE WOOD These biglipped baits are great for bangin' timber and crawling through the limbs and trees of timbered lakes. The most common crankbait used in this situation is buoyant, it will float up and backwards, away from obstructions, which will allow you to continue your retrieve through the timbered area. Bumping into the timber is a great tactic for lazy or neutral muskies. Cast your lure to the opposite side of the obstruction. As the lure nears the tree limbs you will feel some resistance. This is created by the lure as it tries to dive deep, while the line, which is over the limb, pulls the lure upward. At contact with the limb you will feel the lure stop for a split second, this is not the time to set the hook. Let the lip of the lure work for you. It will crawl over the limb while pushing the hooks up and away from the obstruction. The triggering effect happens when the lure makes contact with an obstruction, causing an abnormal effect on its typical running pattern. As the lure leaves the contact point it will turn to the left or right, maybe even a semicircle, causing it to dive or turn erratically away from the cover. This imitation of a fleeing baitfish can attract a muskies attention by the contact with structure and the creation of an erratic action. As the crankbait clears the timber, an elusive musky will dart out and attack with their infamous speed and fury. Sometimes they will bring the lure towards you, so keep a "feel" out for slack line. This slack line is usually very easy to detect due the heavy pull of most crankbaits. When slack occurs don’t take a chance, reel up fast and set the hook hard!

CRANKIN' TIPS Close to the end of every retrieve is a point when the crankbait will make a sudden turn upward. This happens as the lure gets close to the boat. With practice you will be able to feel this point of maximum depth and know when the upward turn is taking place. This is the point during your retrieve that you must pay close attention to, "the trigger turn". You can easily notice this turn because the line becomes more vertical. This initial turn upward gives an illusion of prey fleeing for its' life and will generate some tremendous strikes from a following muskie. When the lure comes close to the boat you should be able to see or feel it. At this point start your figure eight and allow the lure to follow behind the rod tip one to three feet, depending on depth. This tactic for Muskies is often overlooked. At least thirty percent of strikes occur at boat side upon execution of the figure eight. The proper figure eight starts with a smooth transition into the initial turn, keeping your lure at a steady speed while going into the second and third turns. A slow, curious muskie will follow your bait to the boat and this direction change can entice a strike from cautious fish. If the lure happens to get hung up in the timber, and it will, slowly give slack line or some light "jiggles" to work it free. Let it float to the surface and continue the normal retrieve. Always pay attention to a surfacing bait. The quick swirls are exciting. If you can't get the hooks free, DO NOT continue to jerk and pull! You will only drive the hooks deeper into the soft timber. Don't make it harder than it has to be to get your lure free, go to the snag and use a lure knocker. Timber is not the place to let Muskies run and tire out. You have to use a lot of pressure when getting fish to the boat and away

from timber. Playing her down close to the boat is tough, but she will definitely win the battle if you let her get into the trees. Fresh line with good steel leaders and sharp hooks are a must when crankin' through the timber. The continuous contact with timber causes abrasions, weakens line, and dulls the hooks quickly. Don't take a chance with the fish of a lifetime, keep em' sharp and retie often. Combining these crankbait tactics on timbered lakes have proven themselves time and time again, producing many muskellunge under neutral or not so perfect conditions. I'm sure they will work for you as well!

Handling & Releasing Muskies By Mark Boyette © 2001 Muskies are at the top of the freshwater food chain and have no predators accept for anglers. While these fish are tough and often very aggressive, they are very delicate out of the water. If you are new to Muskie fishing or a seasoned veteran to the sport, you owe it to the sport to educate yourself on protecting these prize fish. Please take a few moments and read the following tips on handling and releasing Muskies. When you hook a Muskie, you must quickly decide if it's a fish you wish to keep or release. Catch and release is very popular among Muskie fishermen and is a big part of why our fishery is thriving. Although there is nothing wrong with keeping a Muskie if that's what you choose to do. Fishing is a personal sport and all the decisions on your catch are entirely up to you as long as it's within the legal requirements. If you wish to return the fish to the water you must take various precautions to ensure successful release of the fish. 1. Don't over stress the fish. While you want to get the fish in for a nice photo and scale sample, fighting the fish too long can build up lactic acid in the Muskie's muscle tissue and kill the fish. This is especially true in warmer water conditions where the fish is even more susceptible. I usually fight the fish to the boat and scoop them up in the net at the first chance I get.

2. Nets versus cradles: There are good arguments to be made for both netting a Muskie in a traditional net or the use of a cradle, which is a fine mesh netting connecting to two long poles like a sling. The decision is up to the angler on which to use and what your more comfortable with. There is no doubt a cradle is gentler on the fish but the Muskie must be fought longer to ensure its settled down enough to be guided into the cradle. Personally, I use a net for all my Muskies and have pretty good luck with it and have successfully released every fish thus far. I try to net the fish quickly and get my samples and photos before a releasing the fish. The problem with a net arises when the lure is hooked in the fish and also in the net webbing. A thrashing fish can get the line, lure, and hooks entangled for a real mess. A net can also slit the various fins on a Muskie but its inconclusive whether this effects fish in a negative way. Regardless, if you're using a net or a cradle it's a good idea to keep the fish in the water while you’re working out the hooks. This will give you a bit more time to work. Never try to gill the fish out of the water with your hand. You often see this on various Muskie fishing episodes on TV. This is a foolish way to land a fish. Imagine that fish thrashing with one hook in its mouth and the other in your hand! 3. Have the proper tools: Make sure you have a good set of pliers, side cutters, tape measure, and knife. If a particular hook is embedded in the fish's mouth and won't come out, cut the barb with the side cutters rather than tearing up the mouth of the fish. Often the hook will pull back out once the barb is removed. Even if a piece of the hook has to be left in the fish's mouth it's much better than tearing them up and taking too much time working out the hooks. The pieces will eventually rust out or the fish will spit it out later.

Use the pliers to take 4-6 scale samples and send them to your states Division of Wildlife where they can monitor the growth rates and population of Muskies on that particular body of water. I’m not sure on what states practice this but they do here in Ohio where I do most of my Muskie fishing. You'll also want to note any tag on the fish and record the number of the tag to be reported with your scale samples for additional information. Many states use this information to determine stocking programs in various bodies of water. 4. Limit the time the fish is out of the water. You want to get the fish measured, remove scale samples, take a quick photo, and release the fish in a matter of a few minutes. Too much time out of the water will surely kill the fish, less than 4 minutes is recommended and easily achievable. 5. Handling of the fish: When you get the fish in the boat try not to handle it too much. Muskies have a protective film on their skin that is easily removed if handled too much or out in the hot air too long. This film protects the fish against disease and without it they are susceptible. Try not to lay the fish down in the boat for too long, especially if your floor is carpeted. The carpet soaks off the film off the fish. When taking the photo do not hold the fish vertically without supporting the lower body with your other hand. This is hard on their spine and can cause permanent damage. I hold the fish with one hand under the gill plate and the other toward the lower bottom fin. Carefully slide your hand in the gill plate. They have gill rakers that can cut your hand, but if you slide your fingers in on the very inner portion of the gill plate you'll be fine.

6. When you’re ready to return the fish to the water don't just drop them in and hope for the best. Lower the fish in the water and hold it by the tail. Slowly work the fish forward and back to move water through the gills to get oxygen moving in them again. This will take a minute or two and maybe longer depending on how long the fish was fought and water temp. Usually you'll start to feel the fish revive and get ready to swim away. After the fish drifts back to its home is a good time to re-tie your line, change our your leader, inspect your lures split rings, and hooks. Do this in the area you released the fish and keep an eye out in case the Muskie comes back up. Muskie fishing is unlike any other type of fishing and anglers have an obligation to protect this fishery for generations to come. Good Fishing


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.