Musky America Magazine

Musky America Magazine May 2022 Edition Thank you for visiting Musky America Magazine! Soft water announces the 2022 Musky season. Soon, Musky anglers will be churning the water in search of our toothy friend. This issue of my magazine will include the early season approaches to success on the water. 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.

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. Fishing The Wisconsin River By Craig Sandell © 2013 This September, I had the extreme pleasure and opportunity to fish with one of the premier guides on the Wisconsin River, Brad Wirt. I have never had the opportunity to fish any of Wisconsin’s rivers for Musky and this was a new experience for me. The very first thing that I noticed was the absence of a prop on the 4 stroke motor mounted on Brad’s boat. The prop was replaced with a jet nozzle which allows the boat to travel at normal speeds even in very “skinny” water.

The next thing that stood out was the power pole shallow water anchors. Brad said that these were a necessary addition to his 18’ John boat in order to be able to anchor the boat against the fast moving current of the river. We started out from the Brokaw public boat landing and took a 20 minute ride up the Wisconsin River. It was an adventure traveling at 27 MPH and looking over the side of the boat to see rocks and hard bottom just inches under the lightly stained water. Once we got to where we would begin our downriver trek, my reeducation of lure presentation began. Because the water is ‘skinny’ surface baits are among the regularly used lures. I am used to bringing surface lures through the water at a leisurely to moderate pace. When I began to fish as I usually do, Brad corrected my presentation. Brad mentioned that river Musky are used to having their prey move through the water quickly. He also mentioned that by casting forward of the current flow, you would have to move the lure at a fast rate to keep it in the ‘ambush zone’. As I followed Brad’s casting directions with my Globe, I gained a new perspective on surface bait retrieval. My globe became a completely “different” lure when retrieved at a faster pace. The lure took on the characteristic sound of a ‘tail slapping’ lure that you would get from a tallywacker or top raider. I then tried my Crawler. I have always advertised The Best American Crawler as a creeper type lure that you can crank without having it roll in the water. When I casted it into the fast moving current of the river, the lure lived up to my advertising and more.

Throughout the day, I tried a wide variety of lures in the fast current. I came to believe that I have been denying myself a presentation dimension when I engaged “traditional” retrieve speeds for surface lure. During our trip on the river we had action from 7 Musky but did not put any in the boat; but I was not disappointed. I learned a valuable lesson about lure presentation that I applied when I returned to fish the Chippewa Flowage…But that is a different adventure. Tight lines Brad Wirt is an excellent Wisconsin River Guide for all species of fish. You can contact him through his website at

GOOD SCOUTING & A FLEXIBLE TACKLE ATTACK Will Raise Overlooked Musky By: Craig Sandell, © 2014 Good scouting of the body of water you are fishing upon is essential to being a successful Musky angler. Even if you are sure that you "know" the water you are fishing, it doesn't hurt to take a couple of hours to revisit old spots and refresh your memory. In this article we are going to discuss scouting the "spot-on-a-spot" as well as some tackle tactics for producing fish on such a location. The first step is to identify a likely candidate. You do this by getting a good map of the body of water you are on and taking the time to locate likely fish locations. Once you have a few areas selected, you have to go out and look them over. The island shown here at the left is the island that we will discuss. Notice that the island has shallow weed growth jutting out from two points. An island like this looks pretty good, however, you need to really investigate a piece of structure like this to be sure of its potential. For what characteristics should you be looking? You are looking for saddle areas, shallow shelves, rock piles, gradually deepening water and the presence of a main river channel. Any two of these structural characteristics can be an indicator of good Musky potential.

NOTE: The vegetation you see in the picture above is no longer there due to high water and tuff winters. In this case, this structural piece has all of these characteristics and is, therefore, deserving of some close attention and regular stops during any Musky outing. The redrawn topographic representation of this island tells it all. There is more to this island than one might think. There is an extensive weed bed between the small island and the larger adjacent island. The extended shelf that tops out at 3 feet is surrounded by gradually deepening water. There is a main river channel on either side of this extended shelf acting as a "superhighway" for Musky in transit. How should this piece of structure be fished? This island is a prime candidate for a flexible tackle approach aimed at hunting for those fish that are not typically hunted. The approach is one of high percentage and versatility. You need to have four rods. Each rod is set-up with a different type of lure. You may elect to use different line weights and reels with different retrieve ratios. The four lure types are bucktail, surface bait, crank bait running at 4 to 10 feet and a crank bait running 8 to 15 feet...a glide or jerk bait should also be considered. The area between the two land structures has weeds and a depth of about 3-5 feet. Weeds are also close into all visible shorelines. A surface bait and/or a bucktail are the bait of choice in these areas. The sunken bar in front of the small island tops out at about 3 to 5 feet from the

surface. The bar is a rock and gravel bar and is usually void of weeds. A bucktail is the lure of choice when in close proximity to the bar. The drop-off ranges from the 3 to 5 feet at the top of the bar to 30 to 35 feet as you get more into the original river channel. As you work out from the bar, the lure of choice becomes a crank bait. Depending upon the depth, you would use the 4 to 10 feet deep running crank bait or the 8 to 15 feet running crank bait. Reels with different retrieve ratios will be helpful with this crank bait approach. Keep in mind that there are a good number of stumps at the 20 foot depth all along the contour of the bar. It is very likely that bait fish are suspended at the lower depths among the stumps. It is also likely that Mr. Musky is lurking around down there also. Two people could probably fish this area really well in about 20 minutes using natural drift and trolling motor positioning. Most articles like this one do not tell you where this piece of structure is located so you have no way to actually test out the scouting and tackle approach that has been discussed. This, however, is the Internet and the business of Musky America is to provide information that you can actually use, unlike some other websites trying to sell magazines or a guide's brand of lure. For those of you who fish the Chippewa Flowage, this island is Willow Island. It is on the East side of the Chippewa Flowage adjacent to Church Bar. This piece of structure has produced many respectable Musky catches over the years and is the location where at least two 55+ inch fish have been seen. If you are fishing the Chippewa Flowage, make sure that you visit this spot.

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.

Some tips For TUF-Line Use Craig Sandell © 2020 More and more Muskie anglers are using TUFLine so I thought that you might want to consider these suggestions. A well tied knot is essential to ensure good line strength. Most of you are familiar with the Triple Palomar or Double Uni Knot. These work well but are sometimes hard to tie. I prefer a Duncan Loop. When you spool the line onto your reel, make sure that you get a tight pack. This will help prevent professional over runs (backlashes) and will optimize your reel performance. Also, keep an eye on your level wind on your reel and make sure that it lays the line down evenly as you make your retrieve. A lack of stretch is the line’s claim to fame but it is also its biggest drawback. When casting heavier lures, there is an increased likelihood of a backlash due to our normal propensity to overcast. If you get a backlash with a heavier lure, it is possible that the stress put upon the non-stretch line when that lure comes to an abrupt stop will exceed the line test resulting in a line break and your lure sailing off into the sunset. Regardless of the fact that this is Spectra material, the line will fray over time. You need to keep a close eye on the line for frays. A fray of the line will cause water to bead in that area, so droplets of water adhering to the line are a good indicator of frays.

NOTE: A significant contributor to line fray of Spectra line is related to the line itself. A side effect of the line's tough characteristic is that it is abrasive. (If you have tried to break the line by pulling on it you have experienced how easily it cuts into your skin.) When you cast, the line rubs against your rod guides, especially the guide at the tip of your rod. Over time, this rubbing action will cause your rod guides to develop irregularities that catch on the line as it passes through the rod guides causing the line to fray. The rounder the line, the more likely it will be to cut into your rod guides, especially your rod tips. The credo of the Muskie angler is "Re-tie Often". This applies to TUF-Line as well as any other line you may use. You should have a sharp knife or scissors to cut the line (bare hands or teeth are not an option). The collapsible scissors shown here work very well and you can get them at most any sewing fabric store. I hope these tips are helpful. Tight Lines

The Thrill Of The Hunt ---- Is Its Own Reward Craig Sandell © 2012 I greeted the overcast dawn some 15 hours earlier and had been fishing all day; a day punctuated with rain and a persistent wind. The late June weather was unusual in that a cold snap had caused the water temperature to plummet from 71 to 64 degrees. The Muskies, in an attempt to stay in their comfort zone, had reversed their normal migration into deeper water and were taking up residence on the shallow sand and weed bars. It isn't often that Muskies are so predictable. The result of this predictability was loads of Muskie action on surface lures. I had been raising and boating fish all week and this day had been no exception. I had two fish up snapping at my Best American Globe, providing me some knee shaking thrills but denying me a fish in the boat. It was getting on towards 8:30 PM and I was going to my last fishing spot on my way back to Indian Trail Resort. I crossed a large expanse of open water, slicing through the white cap chop, and headed toward a couple of island bars in wind protected water. As I approached the islands I throttled back the 20 horse motor, hit the kill switch, lowered the trolling motor and got ready to finish off the fishing day with, hopefully, a Muskie in the boat. There was another boat working the far side of the nearby island. As I placed my net in an easy to get to location and readied my

fishing rod, I watched the other fisherman to see how well he was covering the water. I reasoned that if he was not covering the area around the island with a good overlapping casting pattern, the water he was working could hold an overlooked Muskie. Many a Muskie fisherman has had his hopes/ego bruised by seeing another fisherman raising and even boating a Muskie from water that he had just covered. I started a slow troll around the island that I was working, casting my surface bait from 12 feet of water over the top of the submerged sand and weed bar jutting out from the tip of the island. The other fisherman was working his way toward me and I toward him. Courtesy demanded that one of us alter our course and, since it was obvious that the other fisherman was not an accomplished Musky angler, the responsibility for courtesy was mine. I altered my troll so that we would miss each other in a figure eight around the island, thereby assuring each of us some virgin water. I crossed the shallow channel between the two islands and moved to the deep channel side of the other island. I tossed my surface lure over the fallen wood that fingered out from the

shore-line of the island. My depth finder showed me in 10 - 12 feet of water. I was casting into 5 - 8 feet of water. My slow troll was moving me parallel to the submerged sand and weed bar that protruded from the point of the island. I was now fishing water that had already been covered by the other boat. In my mind I was just going through the motions. My lure stripped the 40 LB test white micron line from my vintage 1976 reel as I bombed casts across the point of the island. As I reeled in the surface bait, the Best American Globe gurgled and clicked its way over the water. I found myself fixated on the patch of blue sky winking through the overcast. It was quiet and restful and my thoughts strayed to decisions about dinner. Half-way through my retrieve this picture of serenity was interrupted by an eruption in the water as a Muskie exploded onto my globe. Instinct caused me to pull back on my graphite and fiberglass rod as I felt the Muskie bang my lure. The line stayed tight and I knew that I had him. I set the hook again for insurance and reeled in the line to maintain the tension. I didn't know how big he was, but from his fight I felt that he was at least a legal Muskie (34 inches). He dove straight down under the boat. I could feel him shaking his head as he tried to throw the lure. I was consumed by the dual emotions of exhilaration at the fight and fear that the Muskie would throw the lure before I had a chance to even see him. As he came up from under the boat, he propelled himself out of the water, his gills flaring and head thrashing. I couldn't tell how big he was but I did see that I only had 1 hook in him. I knew that it was only a matter of time before he threw the hook. With one hand firmly grasping the rod, I reached for the net. With the net in one hand and the rod in the other, I tried to maneuver the Muskie into position. He made another run, stripping line from the reel. I threw the net down and re-established tension on the line. I grabbed the net again and coaxed the Muskie into

position. With the rod tip held high, I lead the Muskie into the net. Success!! I put the rod down and, keeping the net and the Muskie in the water, I assessed the size of my catch. He was legal but he was of a size that demanded release. As he thrashed in the net he managed to hook himself with another of the lure's hooks. I got my compound bolt cutters and proceeded to cut the hooks to remove the lure as a source of potential harm for Muskie and fisherman alike. That done, I wet my hands and secured the Muskie under the gill plate. I lifted him out of the net, laid him on the ruler and then quickly put him back in the net and the water. He was a healthy 36 inch Muskie and I was determined to keep him that way. About that time the other boat that had been fishing the island motored over to see what all of the commotion was. I asked him if he would take a picture or two of me releasing the Muskie. He was happy to be part of the experience. I lifted my Muskie out of the net and placed him in the water, taking care to keep him upright. Even though he had not been out of the water very long, he was tired from the fight. As I cradled him under the belly with one hand, my other hand had hold of his tail. It took a few minutes, but soon I could feel strength return to his body. As his tail movements became more exaggerated, I gave him a little squeeze on the tail and off he went. We all fish for Muskie with the hope of hooking into the fish of a lifetime, however, there is nothing to compare to the feeling of satisfaction one gets from a successful Muskie encounter, alone in a boat and armed only with your fishing skills.

• I was fortunate to have picked up on the Muskie pattern of fish on sand and weed bars in wind protected water. • I was fortunate to have taken the time to position the net where I could have easy access. • I was fortunate to have put into practice the knowledge from Muskie articles that preach persistence when working an area with good potential for a Muskie. • The Muskie was fortunate to have been caught by someone with a compound bolt cutter and a catch and release mentality. All in all, it was an excellent way to end a great day on the water. Tight Lines Increasing Your Odds By Tony Grant © 2004 Kentucky Mountain Guide Service Some of the most overlooked items in your first few trips to any muskie lake is probably going to be current conditions, location of boat landings, follows from active fish, and the lures recently being used by the local anglers to entice these predators. Assuredly, the most important thing you need to know is where

the baitfish are currently holding, what the water temperature is and the latest hot spot. Most muskie hunters are very dedicated to their sport and plan every step in hopes of a successful day on the water. They sharpen hooks, oil reels, select baits, check equipment and prepare their boat for each and every outing. Some do numerous hours of homework locating information about the lake, studying maps for expected hot spots, even contacting local guides, bait stores and marinas to pick up on more (hopefully useful) information. The problem with compiling this information weeks or sometimes months in advance, is that conditions change quickly. Muskie locations can differ drastically depending on weather change, the amount of daylight hours, water temperature and many other daily occurrences. The information that you have compiled may not be accurate during your fishing adventure on a new body of water. With a small investment, (compared to the cost of muskie equipment) the success of your trip can be improved dramatically when you hire a local guide. By doing this you can considerably increase your knowledge of the specific lake you are fishing! Even if you only spend a half day with a guide service, you can benefit from their combined knowledge and expertise in location, weather conditions, lure selection and the type of presentations that have produced fish in the past few days or weeks. These guides have compiled quality fishing logs over the years and can tell you what has happened during the same conditions in previous years. Most guide services are on the lake nearly every day and have firsthand knowledge of day to day, on the water situations that a bait store employee or marina employee probably doesn't have. Most guide services have a

number of guides working together so they "pool" their knowledge and produce fish for clients on a regular basis. Spending a small amount of time with a quality guide service can provide information about the lake, active fish and hot baits. Even though you may have already fished the lake several times, a local guide will still be very important in supplying you with the information about what's happening at the precise time you are there and what you can expect in the days to come. This will cut down on "search" time and allow you to spend more productive time on the water during your vacation. Add to the normal pre-trip preparation by spending some time with a local professional that knows his waters and all the specific quirks of the targeted species on that body of water. This will increase your odds of landing the fish of a lifetime. Pick his brain while you are there, write the information down in your own log. Learn as much as you can and remember to practice good fish management by releasing your muskies healthy and unharmed. Help ensure the future of fishing, remember to practice CPR, Catch, Photo, Release.

The Third Man Everyone Has A Job In A Crowded Boat By: Craig Sandell © 2010 This summer I had the great pleasure to share a Muskie adventure with my good friend Rob Meusec. He joined me for a few days during my annual pilgrimage to the Chippewa Flowage…so I hired a guide, John Dettloff, for a half day (evening & night) and we set out on our quest in search of Mr. Muskie. This was no philanthropic exercise on my part for you see, Rob is the person who infected me with Muskie fever some 25 years ago and this is my way of thanking him for all of the memories and adventures since our first excursion. We set out hitting several spots and Rob and I absorbed all of the information about fish and water that John eagerly shared. It is always a pleasure having John for a guide. He will always impart some very valuable knowledge as part of the guide experience and over the years I have benefited greatly from such outings with John. This particular evening, however, was a real eye opener for me. I have fished the Chippewa Flowage for a number of years hitting such notable spots as Fleming’s Bar, The Eagle’s Nest, Rudy’s Island, Willow Island, Church Bar to mention just a few. The one place that had remained a mystery to me was Pete’s Bar. Pete’s bar is a very large sub-surface piece of structure. It has

numerous depth variations and vegetation population locations and, quite frankly, can be very intimidating by virtue of the fact that there are no surface structures that can be used for location assessments. To the uninformed Muskie angler, Pete’s Bar is just another open expanse of water on the 15,300 acres of the Chippewa Flowage. To complicate the issue, this outing we would be fishing Pete’s Bar at night with no moon. As we pulled up on Pete’s Bar, I watched closely how John positioned the boat. As I was getting ready to ask some positioning questions, John began to explain every aspect of how he was positioning the boat using shoreline and tree line references and further explained the sub-surface depth and vegetation. As we made our first pass across what John called the "Sister’s Edge" I found myself spending more time absorbing the location markers than fishing…not so my good friend Rob. He was intently pitching the Orange Frenchy creeper that John had given him to use. The creeper made its usual loud splash entry into the water and its characteristic Muskie calling plop as Rob retrieved it through the blackness of the evening. We finished our forward pass over this prime edge location and John then employed a technique he calls a "double hover". This means that you simply retrace your forward path back over what most folks would consider used water. This is a technique that many of the best guides use and it usually will coax a fish into striking if one is about.

This evening was no exception. About half way through the double hover at the edge of a weed line, a Muskie inhaled Rob’s creeper. We all heard the water explode and, upon setting the hook, we heard Rob colorfully announce that a fish was on. When a Muskie is on, an 18 foot tri-hull with 3 excited fishermen can become very small. Everyone in the boat has to know what to do in order to support the angler with the fish on the line. In this case, the guide’s job was easy. John encouraged Rob to keep his line tight and gave him tips on fighting the Muskie as it foamed the water and inspected the bottom of the boat. For me, as the third man, I had some tasks to perform also. First was to get my lure in and ensure that my tackle did not get in the way of the fight. My next task was to watch the progress of the fight closely. It was up to me to make sure that I did not become an obstacle in the boat. Since the night had stolen our normal visual acuity, I made sure that head lamps and flash lights were available when needed. It doesn’t sound like much of a contribution to the battle, however, staying out of the way in a crowded boat is a very important part of the process. After about 10 minutes of tussle with his Muskie, Rob positioned him along side the boat where John netted the fish. The lure, upon the relaxing of the line, dislodged from the Muskie’s jaw and came to rest at the rim of the net. John removed the lure from the net…I took the rod from Rob and placed it out of the way. I got the camera (s) out and got ready to snap a couple of photos for prosperity. John reached into the net and extracted the Muskie to measure him…a healthy 42 inch 20 pound Muskie. I snapped a couple of photos using John’s camera. As I readied

Rob’s camera, John handed off the fish to Rob for another couple of pictures. Photos completed, Mr. Muskie was back in the water and on his way…a little tired but none the worse for the experience. On your next Muskie outing where you are sharing a boat with another angler or two, remember that everyone in the boat has a job to do during a Muskie encounter. Remember also that keeping clutter in the boat to a minimum is an important aspect to preventing hooks in fishermen and broken rods. Fishing at night demands even greater care to ensure that your boat is free from clutter. Take only the rod you will need and only the lures you can safely transport. As a footnote to this story, I would like to direct your attention to the two photos shown here. Both photos are of the same fish taken not more than a couple of minutes apart. Notice, however, that the fish looks smaller in the photo of Rob by himself. The reason for this is the fact that the fish tensed its tail section moving its tail toward Rob’s body and away from the camera. It is interesting to note how different the same fish can look by small adjustments to the fish or the camera position. Many of the photos that you see in publications are taken using a camera angle that can exaggerates the size of the fish.

Taxidermy…An Imperfect Art By Craig Sandell © 2020 It is a useless exercise to try to obtain accurate measurements from a non-replica mount. The only accurate measurements are those taken, recorded and witnessed when the fish was caught. No doubt that many of you have been assaulted by yet another round of vendetta inspired Musky show presentations, press releases and conjured reports from Larry Ramsell and the obscure organization with which he is associated, regarding the Cal Johnson World Record Musky. It is truly sad that Larry has chosen to squander his reputation on these transparent attempts to bring into doubt the quality catches of someone of the stature of Cal Johnson. Recently, Larry has used his presentation regarding the recent 57" Muskie catch by another Muskie angler as a platform for his unsubstantiated and vitriolic ranting, thereby cheapening what could have been an entertaining account of a great Muskie adventure. It is certainly easy to attack the dead...they cannot defend themselves. Significant weight is assigned by Larry to his analysis of the 57 year old mount of Cal's World Record. Larry will tell you that he has done taxidermy and then tries to use his brief excursion in taxidermy as a credential to make his pronouncements and unfounded allegations seem credible...As a taxidermist, Larry is an excellent Musky angler. For any of you who have had a fish mounted (not a replica), you may have noticed that the fish didn’t look exactly like the picture

you took. This should not be unexpected even in this modern day of more hi-tech methods of taxidermy. I thought a brief review of taxidermy might provide an interesting perspective upon which to evaluate some of the comments from Larry and others. What is Taxidermy? Taxidermy is a general term describing the many methods of reproducing a "life-like three-dimensional representation" of an animal for permanent display. In some cases, the actual skin (including the fur, feathers or scales) of the specimen is preserved and mounted over an artificial armature. In other cases, the specimen is reproduced completely with man-made materials. A Matter of Art Among professionals, it is generally agreed that the most difficult branch of taxidermy is fish mounting. Creating a technically accurate fish mount can be a real challenge. The top awardwinning fish taxidermists are almost all outstanding flat artists as well. The ability to draw, paint, mix colors, and sculpt are shared among most of the world's best fish taxidermists. It is significant to note that 'world class' taxidermy and taxidermists in the 1930's, 40's and 50's were not generally found in small rural communities such as Hayward, WI and the surrounding area. Mounting a fish not only requires the ability to accurately recreate the anatomy of the subject, but to restore all of the colorations as well. When a fish skin dries, most of the color goes away, leaving only brownish patterns on the skin and scales. Fish taxidermy is the one area of wildlife art where the

artist must totally recreate the colors of the skin all over the animal. In bird taxidermy, the taxidermist must paint the legs, feet, and bill, but the feathers retain their natural colors. In mammal taxidermy, the taxidermist must paint the nose and eyes, but the fur requires no color correction. In fish taxidermy, however, the taxidermist has to paint every square inch of the specimen, and make it appear natural. Fish Mounting Methods There are a lot of different ways to produce a fish mount, and fish taxidermists usually are required to choose different mounting methods to match their particular subjects. Warm water fish with tough skins and large scales (such as bass, crappie, and bream) are good candidates for skin mounts. A skin mount means that the fish is skinned, the skin is preserved, and the skin is either mounted over a manikin, or the fish's body cavity is packed with a filler material which is shaped and then allowed to harden. These types of fish are not particularly greasy, so they are usually mounted with the natural skull still attached to the skin. The fins and tail are also the real thing, however, it must be noted that in the process of skinning a fish, the skin may be removed in sections and then applied to the body frame with resin. This can account for the relocation of dorsal and/or pectoral fins and the development of cracks in the surface of the mount over extended periods of time. The environmental conditions in which the fish is displayed will also cause variations in the mount over time. One can see from this brief overview that taxidermy is not an exact art. This is as true today as in past taxidermy practices. The fact is that before pre-made forms were used

as a mounting template, exact mount accuracy was almost never achieved. The concept of exact accuracy in fish taxidermy is a myth that Larry and others are trying to sell to justify their unsupported assertions. There are so many variables that can affect the mount result and they all rest upon the shoulders of the taxidermist. Everything from the method of removing the skin to the type of material used as body cavity filler will have an effect upon the taxidermy presentation. Add to that the normal shrinkage that occurs from the skin drying process and the use of paints and resins and you can see that accuracy ends up taking a back seat to the art. Questions of mount legitimacy raised by Larry Ramsell and others are only suppositions that they are shrouding in a veneer of conjured conclusions based on bad science.

Early Season Musky Tips For Bucktails By Craig Sandell©2017 Real early spring musky fishing will generally be slow until the fish have spawned and some warmer weather hits. However, when the fish finally do become active, the best approach seems to be smaller lures including smaller bucktails. When I say small, I am generally referring to lure lengths of fewer than 5 inches. A small lightweight spinner is very appealing to a musky’s light appetite in this early season. Many spring Muskies have been taken on small bucktails. Their smallness makes them an easy lure to work all day long, plus they really hook fish well, and yes they do indeed take some big fish. One of the biggest drawbacks to fishing small bucktails for Muskies is their lack of weight and strength in construction. I do not recommend attempting to tackle spring Muskies with light action gear. Unless you are a very accomplished angler, the odds are just not in your favor. Being able to utilize a standard musky outfit with the smaller bucktail is to your advantage for hook setting, fighting the fish, and just plain keeping him on your line. A smart choice in tackle would include 50 or 80 pound TufLine, and a solid wire leader gauge of .029 which is greater than 80 pound test. Make certain, however, that the leader is equipped with a top quality snap and swivel (Don't try to get by on the cheap).

Top areas to fish for spring Muskies would include warm shallow mud bays with plenty of backwater areas. These backwater areas are used by the musky for spawning. Any adjacent points, bars, weed patches, or weed beds, and wooded areas could also be feeding hotspots. Sometimes a shallow rock bar near the spawning area will hold a real nice Musky early in the year. Big female Muskies will quickly vacate the shallows after spawning and take up temporary residence on such adjacent spots. Very often, these fish fall victim to the spring walleye angler using a small jig and minnow combination…Most of the time these monsters just simply bite off or break the line. But once in a while they’re hooked in the lip and tangle with a good fisherman who eventually wins and lands a 30 pound class Musky. These areas are better fished with small musky lures like bucktails worked close to the bottom with a relatively slow retrieve (you may want to use a reel with a slower retrieve ratio). Fast retrieves and high riding lures are not nearly as productive in the spring. The best retrieve for spring Muskies is slow and deep. By deep, I mean working the lure deep enough to stay just above cover or the actual bottom. If the water is stained, you would do best by bumping the low cover as much as possible.

There will be other situations when fishing spring Muskies where you will be faced with working your lure through emergent shallow cover like exposed brush and timber, lily pads, and reeds or bulrushes. In this case a treble hook lure may not be the best choice even if you are using a weedless treble configuration. Treble hooks will not work well through this type of cover. A better lure choice for this type of fishing would be a single hook spinnerbait. A larger, heavy duty model bass spinnerbait with either tandem blades or a large single blade would be a good choice with a weight of at least ¾ ounce. Single hook spinnerbaits have an up riding hook and a semi-protective overhead wire arm that also helps to prevent fouling of the lure (some have stinger hooks which you may want to remove). Spinnerbaits are tailor made for this type of cover. You can pitch them using a short sturdy rod engaging the retrieve just as the bait hits the water...this will also help to keep the spinnerbait from fouling. They can be cast into and worked right through all types of emergent cover with very few hang ups. Tight Lines

Early Season Musky Approaches By: John Myhre © 2020 As my fishing partner eased the big fish back into the water I almost couldn't believe the incredible Musky action we had just experienced. In less than an hour we had boated three Muskies between 45 and 49 inches. The thick green cabbage weeds seemed to be holding an incredible number of big Musky. With the water temperature hovering just over the 60 degree mark, the fish seemed quite lethargic and were really holding tight, right in the thickest weeds. Faster moving lures like bucktails or topwater lures just didn't get their attention. Yet, if you slowly twitched a minnow type bait through the pockets or holes in the thick weed cover, you had better have a good grip on your rod! When these fish come up out of the weeds they really meant business. This pattern continued to produce action for us from several Muskies including a 50 inch plus fish that threw the lure out just as quickly as she took it. Some of you are probably thinking that this sounds like the preturnover period when shallow green weeds tend to concentrate big fish in shallow water. Well it could well have been, but this was late spring. Not exactly the time of the year when most of us expect action from that many 25 to 30 pound Muskies. After all, it is common knowledge that the fall months are the best time of the year to go after big trophy size Muskies, right?

Actually though, there is a period in the late spring when the big female Muskies are just as vulnerable. The only difference is fall fish typically weigh more thus adding to the reputation of the fall producing the year's biggest Muskies. However, with faster warming water of spring this window of big fish opportunity is often quite narrow as compared to fall months. Closely watching water temperatures on different lakes can extend this period of activity for you. Last season this pattern produced big fish for me in northern Wisconsin during the beginning of June, also as late as mid-July in Canada. Water temperature is your key to big fish movements in the spring. Right after big females spawn they usually stay around in the shallows to recover from the ordeals of spawning. However, as the water temperatures get around the 60 degree mark or slightly over, they may start to move a little deeper. Usually the first available good green weed edge along a breakline either in or just outside the spawning area will be their next stop. Although they still may not be really active they are usually catchable by using slower presentations that present them with the illusion of an easy meal. Big fish may hold in an area like this for an extended time, but usually as the water warms to around 65 degrees and above they will move out into the main lake, setting up their summer home ranges and patterns. Concentrating on these weed areas during this narrow water temperature range has helped me to score on several big Muskies over the years.

SLOW, ERRATIC - BIG BAITS With the lower water temperatures at this time of year the general rule of thumb has always been to use smaller baits and slower retrieves. I definitely agree that these big post spawn Muskies generally won't get to excited over faster moving lures. However when it comes to size, just what is small to a 50 incher? Although a big fish may strike a smaller size lure, I don't feel that they will often move very far to get it. On the other hand I have seen big fish move considerable distances to strike a twitched 8 to 10 inch minnow bait. Big Muskies can be really opportunistic when it comes to what they eat sometimes. What I mean by this is often the biggest meal that is the easiest to catch is exactly what they want. Here a bigger lure worked slow and erratic may represent an opportunity that is just too good to pass up. For this spring pattern there is no question when it comes to which type of lures produce best. While there are times when both bucktails and top water lures are very effective, usually twitching crankbaits, minnow type lures, or jerkbaits are my number one choice. The two things that I most often use to decide which type lure to use are water depth and weed thickness. When the Muskies are holding in really thick stuff jerkbaits can be twitched through the pockets and holes in the weed tops. If I am fishing over deeper weeds or weed edges, big lipped deep runners that are either jointed or straight would be my choice. When it comes to color selection, you should try to pick lures with bright colored sides and bellies. Usually these

tend to produce more flash when the bait is twitched, and baits that have lots of flash tend to trigger more strikes. This season if you would like to get the jump on some big fish early, give this pattern a try. If you hit it right you could be in for some terrific big Musky action. Just remember though, get a good hold on your rod. When you do get a big fish to come out of the weeds after a lure, they really mean business and the strikes can be vicious. By Craig Sandell © 2016 All through what seemed like the never ending grip of winter, Muskie anglers have been aching for the sound of open water lapping the shore lines of their favorite Muskie lake. During the off-season, hooks have been sharpened, lures have been repaired, tackle boxes have been reorganized and reels have been cleaned and tuned to pristine excellence…All this in preparation for that special moment when Muskie and angler meet. Spring is a very interesting time of the season. As the water temperature creeps slowly from the 40’s toward the mid 50 degree spawning temperature, Muskie begin to shake off their winter trance as they look for a little "love" and a good meal. Muskie anglers wait patiently for the opening of the season and when it finally happens, they are quick to join the hunt. On this early spring morning in June, I too took to the water to dip a line

and put a little slime in the boat. This time of year the water temperature in the morning is usually warmer than the air giving rise to varying degrees of mist. I slipped away from the dock at Indian Trail Resort just before the sun crept over the Eastern horizon and cleaned out the shoreline of the resort using only a trolling motor on very slow speed. This is a practice that is ignored by many Muskie anglers as they motor off to their favorite Chippewa Flowage Muskie water…sometimes the fish is as close as your own "front door". The water temperature was up to a respectable 64 degrees and at that temperature every lure is a potential Muskie producer. Muskie anglers have had success with everything from plastics to surface lures. Since I was covering the shallow shoreline, I decided to use a Topper to emulate a small varmint patrolling the shoreline for an easy meal. I am a supporter of the concept of ‘matching the hatch’ as part of a hunt strategy and anyone who has fished in the early Spring has observed that behavior for the animals that make their living at or close to the shallows. The shallows are also the first place where emerging weeds will provide a Muskie ambush cover. As I rounded the point of the resort shoreline heading toward Bay 1, I was getting ready to pull up the trolling motor and head on down the road. I thought to myself, "Just a cast or two more to be sure that I fished the shoreline clean". As the Surf Master hit the water, a Muskie exploded on it. In all honesty, I never had time to even set the hook. Lucky for me, the Muskie

hit the lure and turned away from the boat rather than toward it…he actually set the hook on himself. This was not a big fish but it was the first fish of the Muskie season. It hit about 15 feet from the boat and did a little dance on the water trying to dislodge the topper from its jaw. I kept the line tight and slowly coaxed the fish toward the boat to be netted. With rod in one hand and the net in the other, I performed the "dance of the lone Muskie angler" as I prepared to lead the Muskie into the net. The fish came up along side the boat and swaggered right into the waiting net. I was pumped…The first fish of the season and within shouting distance of the dock. Leaving the fish in the net, I cut the hooks of the topper and prepared to measure and photograph my misty morning prize. It measured in at 32 inches…not a big fish but a nice way to start the season. After a picture or two the Muskie was back in the water and on its way. I took a deep breath, rearranged the boat, pulled up the trolling motor and motored off into the what remained of the morning mist to see if the day had other Muskie adventures awaiting me… Tight Lines

Slop Musky On Plastics "A Bass Technique For Spring 'Lunge" Todd Koehn © 2014 Early season Musky success is often measured by the number of fish following lures 6-8 feet behind. With short hits common and cold water temps still keeping fish lethargic, fishing can be fruitless without a system. On my daily occupational drive there is plenty of time to review mental notes of the prior weekend's fishing experiences. For example, recently I recalled a strange early season incident on a lake I had guided on for seven years. While fishing a favorite spring bay I heard and then saw frequent large swirls and surface turbulence along the shoreline. The commotion was coming from several Muskies devouring frogs in 1-3 foot depths. Motoring further along this shoreline revealed more "frog feeding" Musky. A plastic 4" frog seemed to be an ideal selection. Mister Twister's Hawg Frawg has an accompanying "keeper hook" with three barbs along its shank held the plastic frog body in place perfectly. The frog body had a recessed linear cavity in the belly permitting easy access to the hook. I soon discovered that even light Musky tackle is a poor casting choice. Since these fish were spooked easily it was critical to utilize tackle that could make long casts keeping the angler and boat away from wary fish. I like to compare it to deer hunting in an open area with no cover. A rifle capable of making a long shot is needed to remain undetected.

Making these lengthy casts requires a long rod, and as a Musky nut and guide, I have been an advocate of them. Rods recommended for steel-head seem to be the best choice. One example is an 8' 6" medium action bait casting St. Croix Imperial XL rod. A bass sized bait casting reel with 12# line is an ideal match. This combination is perfect for casting the medium weight plastics, along with big plastic worms and lizards. The other is a spinning steelhead/walleye model. The 9' 6" St. Croix, Legend is one example. This rod has a unique cam-lock graphite spinning rings which allow widespread placement of the reel on its 24 inch handle. It's surprising back bone when fighting heavy fish is its foremost feature. A medium spinning reel with an in-spool drag and 12# line is a good choice. Both of the rods are specially designed for catching steelhead trout in rivers. These fish can reach up to 20, even 30 pounds, and produce a fight in a river's current that is a test of rod strength. It's common for them to make drag-screaming runs of 25 to 50 yards. Long rods allow a greater vertical line angle from the rod tip to the lure at long distances. This steeper angle will enhance your ability in finessing lures through bulrush beds and other thick cover. Short rods often leave too much line laying in the water, making it easy for the fish to see, besides being prone to hanging up on weeds, downed timber and brush.

BULRUSHES AND WARM BAYS Look for three keys in identifying potential spring Musky water. Lakes with established bulrushes provide excellent cover for spring fish. Also large bays with newly emerging shallow cabbage often hold fish. And, always, explore dark mucky bays that warm faster than any other area of the lake. Once targeted areas are found run parallel to them, using an electric trolling motor and visually check the shallows wearing Polaroid glasses. Look for panfish, small game fish and, of course, frogs. If any such forage is available Musky should be on the prowl. After scouting ultra-clear spring waters it's easy to understand how fish detect your presence. You must remain as quiet and sneaky as possible. If there is a wind present, use the electric motor to stay within casting distance of the key fish-holding zone. Slowly and thoroughly work a section at a time. Think of yourself as the predator. Making long casts without spooking shallow feeding fish will pay off in great early season action. When retrieving these plastics hold your rod at a 45-degree angle. Retrieve them slowly, while gently twitching them to create a natural pulsating, swimming action. The movement of the rod tip should be as slight as possible. Make sure that the bait lands well past cover that a Musky would likely be holding in. Retrieve it through the area naturally instead of landing on top of the fish. A very delicate twitching is required to generate natural looking frog movements. It's best to lightly shake the tip and reel with

just enough speed to keep the frog, big worm or lizard moving on or approaching the surface. It's strange how Musky hit these plastics. They simply swim up, lightly grab them and swim away. Bright lure colors help to keep the bait in sight at distances of up to 50 feet. Use the white/green or yellow/green color combination for best results. Incidentally, monitoring the bait's progress while retrieving is necessary in timing the hook set. Picking up great amounts of line to set the hook is no problem with a rod of this length. What is a problem is getting a good hook set. The best way I've found is to set the hook by striking the palm of your reeling hand, against the butt end of the rod... sharply. The hand holding the rod will act as a pivot point. This fast downward motion on the butt end with your cranking hand away from the body and towards the fish delivers a tremendous hook-setting force. Practice this procedure outdoors with a less forceful movement. Pushing the rod butt only six inches away from the body, propels the rod tip four feet in the opposite hook setting direction. This shock of energy will rip the hook from the plastic body, impaling it into the Musky's jaw. The importance of sharp hooks is also vital with this presentation. When fighting a fish in this skinny water, it is critical to get near the fish rapidly, usually within 20 to 25 feet. Most fish will leave shallow water heading for greater depths when the boat becomes visible. During the fight is when the long rod really comes into its own. Applying heavy pressure on the fish, even with only 12# test line is possible. Taking up slack line from jumps, head shakes, runs and continuing to keep constant pressure on the fish is no problem. One bit of caution must be practiced when landing a fish with long rods. Leave enough line out from the rod tip to enable landing a fish 3 - 4 feet away from