Musky America Magazine May 2023 Edition

Musky America Magazine May 2023 Edition Thank you for visiting Musky America Magazine! The Musky show season is winding down, and it is time to start preparing for soft water considerations. This month’s edition has tips on getting ready for the 2023 Musky season. Did you have a 2022/23 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©*

Just when you thought you'd seen it all... Michigan, USA. Story Passed On By: Jean Moore THIS IS A TRUE STORY!!! A guy buys a brand new Grand Cherokee for 30 some thousand dollars and has 400+ dollar monthly payments. He immediately gets a hold of his fishing partner, and they go do some male bonding. They go duck hunting, but at this time of year all of the lakes are frozen. These 2 "slow leaks" go to the lake with the guns, the dog, the beer and of course the new vehicle. They drive out onto the lake ice and get ready. Now, they want to make some kind of a natural landing area for the ducks, something for the decoys to float on. Remember, it's all ice and in order to make a hole large enough to look like something a wandering duck wants to fly down and land on, it is going to take a little more effort than an ice hole drill. Out of the back of the new Grand Cherokee comes a stick of dynamite with a short, 40 second fuse. Now these 2 Rocket Scientists do take into consideration that if they place the stick of dynamite on the ice at a location far from where they are standing (and the new Grand Cherokee), they take the risk of slipping on the ice when they run from the burning fuse and possibly going up in smoke with the resulting blast. So, they decide to light this 40 second fuse and throw the dynamite which is what they end up doing.

Remember a couple of paragraphs back when I mentioned the vehicle, the beer, the guns AND THE DOG???? Yes, the dog. A highly trained Golden Retriever used for retrieving, especially things thrown by the owner. You guessed it, the dog takes off at a high rate of doggy speed on the ice and gets the stick of dynamite with the burning 40 second fuse about the time it hits the ice all to the woes of the 2 idiots yelling, stomping, waving arms and wondering what the hell to do now. The dog is happily performing its doggy duty, bouncing towards them with the sizzling stick of dynamite, when one of the guys starts to think, something that he has never done before this moment. He grabs a shotgun and shoots the dog. The shotgun is loaded with #8 duck shot, hardly big enough to stop a Golden Retriever on its appointed rounds. Dog stops for a moment, stung and bewildered, and then continues on. Another shot and this time the dog, still standing, becomes really alarmed & now scared, thinking these 2 Nobel Prize winners have gone insane and takes off to find cover, with the now really short fuse burning on this stick of dynamite. What is the cover the dog finds? Underneath the brand new Grand Cherokee 30 some thousand dollar 400+ monthly payment vehicle sitting on the lake ice. BOOM! Dog dies, and it and the brand new Grand Cherokee, 30 some thousand dollar 400+ monthly payment vehicle, sink to the bottom of the lake leaving the 2 candidates for Co-leaders of the known Universe's dumbest guys standing there with this "I can't believe this happened" look on their faces.

which tells him that sinking a vehicle in a lake by illegal use of explosives is not covered. He had yet to make the first of those 400+ a month payment. Still doesn't seem like adequate payback for what they did to that dog, though. When they made the movie Fargo, they should have waited a few more months and this could have been added to it.

The Musky Fisherman’s Net Dilemma Written By Craig Sandell With Input From Ron Heidenreich And Joel Wick © 2023 The fact is that many Musky anglers, at one time or another, fish alone. When you tie into a Musky in the mid 30s or greater while fishing alone, a cornucopia of problems present themselves…not the least of which is landing the Musky. Netting a Musky by yourself will have you trying to get your catch under enough control to handle the rod with one hand while manipulating the net with the other. I refer to this critical procedure as “doing the Musky dance”. Once you net your Musky, the boat chaos is just beginning. The rambunctious netted Musky raises concerns of keeping the net under control while you get the tools you need to safely remove hooks from your catch. In addition, you have to deploy your bump board or other measuring device. Then there is getting your camera ready to snap a photo before you release the Musky. Ron Heidenreich And Joel Wick have come up with an innovative solution to addressing the chaos of the catch. This video link will give you an idea of how a simple addition to your boat can help to reduce the boat chaos once the Musky is in the net: This addition to your boat is even more important when you are fishing alone.

Ron fishes out of a Ranger. The pictures below will show you how Ron attached the net straps after sweating the ends of the luggage straps together. The Ranger has convenient mounting areas where net straps can be easily attached. During our conversation, Ron mentioned that he would have added some additional length to the net straps, so make sure

the net handle into one or both of the net straps. With our conversation in mind, I set out to add net straps to my Tuffy. I first had to find Velcro straps. I was able to find some adjustable Velcro straps at the ACE Hardware store. The mounting holes were a bit too large, but the addition of washers that would accommodate the 1½ inch mounting screws solved the problem. You will have to drill a starting hole to accept the mounting hardware before you attach the Velcro strap. You should leave some room, so the straps are free to swivel, as shown below.

Once you have installed the net straps, they should look something like the above picture. Once the straps are installed, you will need to check that the net strap can easily fit onto the net handle. NOTE: The Velcro strap can be adjusted to secure the net.

The picture above shows the net handle secured to the Velcro strap with the net bag resting on the gunnel of the boat. The net can be adjusted by sliding the net handle back to keep the Musky from jumping out of the net. This is an easy way to keep the net secure, so your hands are free to get landing tools and get the bump board or other measuring device ready to measure your Musky as well as a camera to take a photo. My sincere thanks to Ron and Joel for sharing this innovative approach to making landing and releasing a Musky catch a bit easier. Tight Lines!

Is It Party Time? Or Is It Musky Time? Rob Meusec © 2020 We have all been there. You know what I mean. Your boat partner can't get up in the morning…. Your day of fishing has been cut short…You are embarrassed by your partners boat etiquette…. This may sound familiar to you. It's all too familiar to me. I was fishing in a musky tournament. It was Sunday morning and our 2-man team was 4 inches short of first place going into the last day. My partner was out late the night before and was partying pretty hard and stumbled into our cabin about about 2:30AM. The tournament hours for the last day were 7:00AM to 12:30 PM. I was up and ready to go at 5:30AM and started getting my buddy up. It was his boat we were using. I tried and tried to get him going but nothing would work. He was trashed and down for the count. We never got out on the water that day…Bummer! I was fishing with two guys on a new lake in late July and we were scouting out some water to hit hard after lunch. We went into this bar on the lake for a burger and then planned to fish the spots we knew would hold some good Muskies. Well, 3 hours later, they decided it was time to go fishing. Well, as you can imagine, the rest of the day was not really fishing, just cruising through the water with about 20 minutes of actually having baits in the water…Bummer!

When you don't have your own boat and are at the mercy of your partner to fish and fish hard, your trip can end with bad feelings. Friendships can be at stake and/or tournaments can be lost and worst of all your personal safety can be in jeopardy. I have lost a great fishing partner due to drinking. He turned me on to my first 20 pounder. I thought he was my mentor. Alcohol took its toll on our friendship and our fishing. There is a time and a place for everything. When you only have a few weeks a year to pursue your passion, you want to make the best of it. Please don't ruin it for the people who really care about you. Think about the big picture. If you like to party, that's ok. Be responsible and think of your friends. They chose you as a fishing buddy for a reason. You both share the passion to fish for Muskies. Some of the discussions that occur in a boat during a day of Muskie fishing are priceless. You know what I mean. You have been there. Don't jeopardize that camaraderie. It's a bond that could last a lifetime.

Implications Of An Early Ice Out By Craig Sandell © 2021 I am pretty sure that most of you have noticed that there is an abundance of ‘soft water’ out there. Indeed, many folks have commented that this is the earliest ice out in recent memory. So what, if anything, does it mean for Musky fishing? In A Normal Year Normally, the ice will go out in the waning days of April. The water will then begin its warming cycle giving rise to the spawning of a progression of fish species. Musky will spawn after Northern Pike when the water temperature is in the high 40’s to mid 50’s. Also, weed growth will begin as the sun filters its way into the water column. The clearer the water the faster weeds will begin to become apparent. Rain during the period when there is still ice on the water will not be able to penetrate the ice and provides little or no oxygenation. Also, runoff will not have a pronounced effect on the turbidity of the water and the mixing of the water column. Early Ice Out With relatively few instances of early ice out events, there is very little in the way of actual observations and implications of an early ice out. The folks at the DNR will likely have some thoughts

up by actual observation or will be mired in long winded technical postulations…in other words, they will be guessing. So what are we likely to see as the calendar plods its way toward the opening of the season? We are likely to get a fair amount of rain this spring and with the ice already out what can we expect? During rainy seasons, oxygen concentrations tend to be higher in the water because the rain interacts with oxygen in the air as it falls. Also, runoff tends to mix the water column as it enters a body of water adding to the overall distribution of oxygen in the water. It should also be noted that the colder the water, the more oxygen can be dissolved in the water. Bottom line here is that the early ice out should give rise to well oxygenated water making the likelihood of a fish kill minimal this year. It also bears noting that because they are cold blooded, fish need less oxygen when the water is cold. Aquatic plants also contribute to oxygen in the water. Since there is likely to be an early weed growth, additional oxygen will be dissolved in the water. Obviously, the effect on a fishery of high oxygen content should support some aggressive early fish activity.

The other side of this coin is water temperature. With the early ice out, water temperatures will begin to rise quickly especially in darker water. What this means is that, as the water warms, fish and other aquatic life will use more of the oxygen in the water. You can begin to see that there is a tenuous balance between the amount of oxygen in the water and the amount of oxygen needed to support an active fish population. This year, we are likely to see earlier algae blooms and early migrations of Musky into the cooler water of a lake or flowage. This will likely mean that our fishing approach will need to, more than usual, be in tune with the water temperature. Early weed growth will also affect our approach on the water. It may be more difficult to find those areas where weeds are far enough below the surface to be able to pass a lure over them and trigger a strike. Your productivity on the water will require some good scouting of weed growth and dictate an approach that has you fishing the weed edges more often. There are a few lures out there that bill themselves as "weed free" and which could be candidates for fishing in the weeds…but, beware the hype. Since the warmer water is likely to encourage Musky to find a cooler water comfort zone where they need less oxygen, the use of deeper diving crank baits and deeper running bucktails and jigging lures may be more effective during the day. Remember however that when the Musky are in the deeper water they are widely distributed and therefore harder to locate.

As in years past, weather will play a large role in our fishing approach. Cooler evenings and moderate day time temperatures should make early morning a prime time to fish. The evenings may also be a productive time. Whether a night bite will be in effect will likely be unique to a body of water, so talk to as many folks as you can regarding late night productivity. Rain and stormy weather will help to replenish oxygen and mix the water column a bit. Rain, if it is a cold rain, it will help to cool down the water that is higher in the water column, making it more ‘attractive’ to Musky. A Closing Comment This year, more than in years past, it will be important to ‘keep your finger on the pulse’ of the waters that you plan to fish. Fishing patterns will likely change quickly as water temperature and oxygen levels change. Also, increased weed growth may give rise to abundant growth areas on lakes and flowages that make it almost impossible to fish them. If you are an accomplished Musky angler, it may be worth your time to get a guide for half a day. If you are new to the Musky fishing cult, hire a guide for a whole day and be sure to have him mark up you map when the day is done. I am looking forward to an exciting Musky season this year. This year will challenge us Musky anglers to put into practice much of the information that we have acquired from years of Musky fishing. I hope to see you on the water. Tight Lines

The Underwater Seasons Craig Sandell © 2010 During the course of the Musky season, each body of water undergoes changes in its water temperature as well as changes in the oxygen that is dissolved in the water. As the underwater seasons change, the Musky react to those changes driven by their need to eat and their need to breath. The successful Musky angler must tune into these changes. He/she must be prepared to be flexible with regard to lure selection as well as conducting a better evaluation of water and weather conditions. Late season fishing can be marked by drastic weather changes and dramatic changes in the condition of the water. As the water begins to warm after the long winter months and as emergent vegetation adds oxygen to the water, Musky become more active and settle into their seasonal patterns. For the greater part of the Musky season, most bodies of water are locked into the characteristic thermal distribution commonly referred to as the "summer thermal water pattern". The graphic shown here at the left demonstrates this summer thermal pattern. Water at the surface tends to change gradually in water temperature and tends to have higher levels of oxygen than the water layers beneath it. The thermocline is sort of like a buffer area between the warmer surface water and the cooler deeper water. The

cooler deeper water tends to have the lowest level of oxygen during this period of time. Musky tend to populate the upper water levels when they are active and the lower water levels when they are inactive. The hotter the top layer of water, the more likely Musky are to seek a comfortable temperature at greater depths. At these greater depths, they are less likely to be aggressively active. As summer transitions to fall and the water looses its heat to the longer cooler evenings, the temperature difference between the thermal layers of the lake become less distinct. Most of the oxygen is still located in the surface layer of the water and Musky tend to be more active during this time. Typically, this time is associated with late August and early September. Temperatures will vary depending upon the geographic location and the depth of the body of water so you should keep a close watch upon the water that you plan to regularly fish. The graphic at the right will provide you some perspective regarding this gradual shift in water temperatures. Relentlessly, the seasons move on toward fall. The nights get cooler robbing the water of heat as the warming effect of the sun diminishes due to its lower position in the sky. The water temperature tends to equalize the temperature between the upper warmer and

more oxygen rich layer and the cooler less oxygen rich lower layer. The thermocline is still in place but as you can see from the graphic at the left the water is on the verge of homogenizing into a uniform temperature distribution. This time is a prime Musky activity window but the window is very short lived. It is very difficult to accurately predict the exact time of this water temperature circumstance. You'll just have to trust to "luck" if you are trying to hit this period on the head. NOTE: One should also remember that, depending on the spring warm up, presummer and Imminent turnover are relatively the same water conditions.Finally, the water succumbs to the persistence of the changing season and "turnover" takes place. The thermocline barrier disappears as the water temperature becomes uniform throughout the body of water. This is typically a very slow period for Musky activity. The blending of the oxygen rich upper water and the oxygen poor lower water causes the overall oxygen level to be less than what the Musky are used to having. The Musky require time to adjust to the new oxygen level as well as to the fact that they are "stuck" with a uniform lower water temperature. As you might suspect, this is not a good time to Musky fish. Every body of water will experience turnover on its own timetable so it is very hard to predict. If you plan to fish late in the season, you must "keep your finger on the pulse" of the body of water that you plan

to fish.The Musky soon acclimate to the changes in the water oxygen levels and the temperature. Around late September or early October the Musky put on their winter feed bag and take advantage of the seasonal movement of forage fish. This is typically the time when you have a better than average chance to tie into a 25 to 45 pound fish. This time of year, however, is not for the "fair weather" Musky angler. You can plan on the weather being wet, cold, snowy and generally miserable.Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the mystery of turnover and its effect upon your chances to have a Musky encounter. As has been said in other articles posted on this website, Musky fishing has a large element of luck associated with any angler success. The best thing you can do is be prepared with as much information as you can muster about the water you are fishing and then trust in the "Musky Spirts" to favor your efforts.

Musky Widow's Lament By T. Gayle © 2012 I am a "Musky Widow." Oh, my husband is alive and well, but just before and during Musky season, he "isn’t all there." He is concentrating on getting his equipment ready, on finding out when the ice went out, how the weeds are growing and he actually goes to the gym to work on building his back and shoulder muscles so he can cast better. I, on the other hand, think Musky fishing is simply boring. I am inept with a casting rod, a magnet for biting bugs, uninterested in discussions about "drop-offs," and water temperature. Although I tried Musky fishing, we decided that our marriage would be better served if my husband went fishing and I didn’t. This suits both of us. I am a mildly interested bystander—with the emphasis on bystander. Musky fishing is his obsession, but it definitely isn’t mine. I have known several people who have what can only be termed an obsession. We used to have a neighbor who was determined that his lawn would rival any golf course green. A dandelion was a call to battle. He spent more time and money on seed, fertilizer and almost shaving each blade than any professional gardener would. His wife and I agreed that this was simply his way of having fun so we adopted the call, "If it makes him happy…" Lately, however, I have been hearing about an apparently heated argument between two groups: one group thinks there is something less than "kosher" about current musky world records and another group is defending these records. I grew up around

men and boys who could argue forever over who was the best baseball player of all times, who really deserved to be in the Hall of Fame and who could be counted on as a relief pitcher in a really tight game. The difference is, these men seemed to take a real delight just in the discussion. No one became angry because someone else held a different opinion. They already knew what the other guy would say and would provoke an argument just for the sake of argument. It made them happy…. The current argument about the world record musky doesn’t seem to be that kind of argument. There seems to be real anger and even personal rancor involved. I think it’s time for a reality check. Musky fishing is considered sport fishing. A sport is supposed to be some activity that you do for enjoyment. Yes, I realize that professional ball players make millions of dollars to "play" a sport—but at that point is it really a "sport," or is it a business? Do you fish because you enjoy the sport or do you fish because you truly expect to catch a world record? If you fish for enjoyment, you believe that just being on the water makes the day a good day—catching a legal fish just makes the day better. There is no way we can accurately rewind time. History is just that—a story. History can also be interpreted in various ways depending on the point of view of those who are interpreting. A case in point is our own Revolutionary War. The American Colonists considered George Washington a hero. England considered him a traitor. It all depends on which side of the story you are standing when it is written down. Did Louie Spray catch the world record musky? From the available evidence, it appears that he did. No one has been able to find actual evidence that he didn’t. Any disagreement with the proffered evidence is based on interpretation.

Did Cal Johnson catch a world record musky? Again, from the available evidence, it appears that he did. If he didn’t, there should be some credible evidence of that fact—not just someone’s interpretation. From my admittedly "lay person" point of view, who cares? If my husband catches a fish larger than the monster on our wall, I will be excited for him because he will be thrilled. He will be excited because he caught one bigger than his biggest catch so far. To him, musky fishing is a sport. It gives him enjoyment. It makes him happy…. I feel sorry for those who use time and energy to "prove" or "disprove" something that makes no difference to 99.999% of the world. Why is this such a big issue? Will it change the way people fish for musky? Will it improve the equipment that they buy? Will it improve the way lakes are managed? Will it make them happy? Men like to think that they are superior to women because they don’t gossip. They discuss serious issues. To my female ears, this resembles the sound of women gossiping about other women over incredibly petty issues. I’m tempted to call this a "cat fight." Of course, I am just a non-fishing woman. I could be wrong—but I don’t think I am.

Making Your Musky Own Leaders Craig Sandell © 2020 As most of you have read in printed periodicals and books, you should always use a solid wire steel leaders when you fish for our Musky friend. With the advent of Spectra line, some anglers are foregoing leaders. Leaders can be bought over the counter in all sizes with and without swivels and with a variety of snaps. There is nothing worse than to be in some remote location fishing for Musky only to discover that you are short on leaders or that the leaders that you have are not quite what the conditions dictate. In this article, I will show you the tools you need to be able to make good quality leaders anywhere. You can't make leaders without wire. Wire that is 174 pound test (.029 gauge) is a very good choice. It will not weigh down your lures and will provide that strength needed during a Musky encounter. Some folks like a leader that is beefier. To me, it makes no sense to have a 200 pound test leader when you are using line tested at 35, 40, 50 or 80 pounds. The heavier leader will also impede the action of your lure in the water. You can pick up a package of 30 feet of this type of wire (shown here) for around $3.00. This amount of wire is usually enough for most Musky anglers for a season, however, it is cheap enough so you might want to get a couple of 30 ft. coils.

You will need snaps and swivels. A #5 snap is a pretty good choice since it has good strength and will not add a lot of weight to the leader. You can get #5 snaps from almost any fishing catalog. Swivels are an item that deserve a little thought. A swivel is not a solid piece of metal and represents the potential to be a "weak link" in you tackle. If you are convinced that you need a swivel, buy a good one. A good one will cost about $1.50 each, however they are made very well and worth the price. Tools are the next order of business. In addition to round nose pliers and wire cutters, you will need a method to wrap the wire evenly to close each end of the leader. You will also need a good tool to twist the tag ends of your wire like the one pictured here. Why should you make your own leader? You can always buy a couple if you need them. Well, that is not always true. Sometimes the local resort does not have leaders available, sometimes the local tackle shop may be out of stock or may not have the exact configuration that you have come to regard with high confidence. There is no substitute for being able to make a

leader on the spot that is exactly what you want to meet a specific angling situation. Leader Board You use a leader board to make it easy for you to make leaders that are consistent in size and configuration, but it is not necessary. Leader boards are very simple to make. You need only have a length of 2 x 4, four 2½ 8 penny nails, three 1 inch finishing nails, a hammer and a compound bolt cutter. The leader board that we will make can be used to make a leader that is 7 inches, 9 inches or 11 inches. The length of 2 x 4 that you will need will be 31 inches. You don't have to have a leader board to make a leader; the board just makes it a little easier. Take an 8 penny nail and hammer it into the 2 x 4 approximately 2 inches from one end of the 2 x 4 so that about 2 inches of the nail remains above the board. Measure 7 inches from that nail and hammer in another 8 penny nail in line with the other. Using your compound bolt cutter, remove the head of the nails that you have just hammered into

the board. (NOTE: You may want to file the cut head of the nails to remove irregular edges.) Now, cut a 10 inch length of leader wire. Using your round nose pliers, make a loop about 1½ inches from the end of the wire. Slip the loop over the first nail that you installed and place the non-loop end of the wire next to the second nail that you installed. Holding the non-looped end of the wire against the left side of the nail, position one of the finishing nails as shown here. (Note: This finishing nail will stabilize the wire when the second leader loop is made.) [I have placed a piece of white paper under the wire so it can be seen better.] Now, take your round nose pliers and form the tag end of the wire around the nail as shown at the right.

Remove the wire from the leader board. Using your round nose pliers, make a loop in the tag end to match the loop that you made previously. Your leader should now look like the leader shown below: You now have a leader that is 7 inches from eyelet to eyelet and you are now ready to finish it up before we finish the leader board and make the 9 inch and the 11 inch leaders.

Placing the # 5 clasp onto one of the eyelets, hold the eyelet and clasp with the round nose pliers. Position the DuBro tool per the tool instructions and close the loop by twisting the end of the wire. Do the same with the other eyelet installing the swivel rather than a clasp. Trim any excess tag wire and you now have a finished 7 inch leader (See Below). You have now made your first leader using the 7 inch section of your leader board. The rest is easy. Just measure 9 inches from the last large nail you put in the leader board and then add the finishing nail just as with the 7 inch section of the leader board. Do the same for the 11 inch leader section of the leader board.

Remember that you MUST add 3 inches to the desired leader length to be sure that you have enough tag wire with which to work. (For 7 inch leader cut 10 inches of wire, for 9 inch leader cut 12 inches of wire, for 11 inch leader cut 14 inches of wire.) A word of encouragement. Most people mess up the first couple of leaders so don't get discouraged. In reality, the only thing that you are wasting is a little very inexpensive wire and some of your time.

Bucktails...For Some A Primary Lure Craig Sandell © 2020 Many Muskie fishermen and women who are just beginning to experience the thrill of Muskie angling often wonder what they need in their tackle box in the way of lures, tools and other accessories. It is sure easy to be overwhelmed by the hype associated with Muskie fishing. You should have a very focused selection of bucktails. Many prefer a bucktail with two treble hooks. Colors are a matter of choice, however, solid black with a green blade, solid black with an orange blade, red/white with a red/white blade and perch with a copper blade are good choices. When selecting a bucktail, you should also have in mind what kind of fishing tactics you are going to use. A bucktail with very little weight will not cast very far, however, if you are going to bulge the bucktail over a submerged weed bed you don't want the bucktail to ride low nor do you necessarily want a long cast. If your plan is to fish the weed edge of a 8 to 12 foot drop off, then you will be looking for a bucktail that has moderate weight. This will allow for a long cast and deeper running during the retrieve. The other consideration is for fishing deep water, 15 to 20 feet, adjacent to a weed bar or stump shelf. Obviously, you are going to want to use a bucktail with good weight. You may even want

onds before starting a slow to moderate retrieve. How Much Does A Good Bucktail Cost? I'm not sure that there is a good answer to that question. I have had good success with bucktails in the $5 to $8 dollar range. I also have bucktails in my tackle box that carry a $10 to $15 dollar price tag and do not have the action or look in the water that makes me confident enough to use it consistently. The best advice I can give you is the advice I give myself. Buy a bucktail with strategy and tactics in mind. Talk to other Muskie anglers and see what types of bucktails they have used to actually catch Muskie. Don't pay more than $15.00 for a bucktail and never buy a bucktail just because some "famous" Muskie personage caught a 30 or 40 pound fish using a bucktail "just like it".

Spinner Baits...Variation on a Theme Spinner baits are a close cousin to the in-line bucktail. The seven inch spinner bucktails shown here provide a nice overview of the variations in color and blade configuration. Spinners will come in many different sizes with single hook and double hook arrangements. They will also come in tandem blade arrangements (shown here) as well as single blade arrangements in a wide selection of colors and blade types.

Are All Bucktails Created Equal? By: John Myhre © 2011 There have been many times when I have heard anglers say, "Bucktails are all the same. When they're after spinners any bucktail will produce as well as another." While it is true that there are times when muskies are so active they'll hit almost anything, these occasions are actually few and far between. The rest of the time little differences in a bucktail's components, make a big difference in how many muskies you interest in them! Blade type and color are often the basis for selecting which bucktail to use. However, several other things should influence your choice, as well. Bucktail style, size, weight, amount of hair, and hook placement should also be considered. Any one of these seemingly insignificant details can sometimes make all the difference in how many muskies you boat. Here is a little story about how I came to learn the importance of one item, hook placement, when fishing shallow weed cover. Shortly after opening day a few years back, I was fishing just out side a major spawning area on one of my favorite early season lakes. The new weed growth on this spot was well developed already with some clumps being surprisingly thick. This prompted me to choose a light weight bucktail with a large colorado blade. This combination works exceptionally well over shallow weed tops. The light weight along with the extra lift created by the big blade make it run high. My second cast to the

edge of a thick weed patch drew a good solid strike. I immediately set the hooks hard only to have the Musky react by violently thrashing its head from side to side above the water. It took the Musky less than a second to free itself by throwing the hooks. Quickly my partner switched to the same style of bucktail and we continued fishing the same weed bed. Just a few casts later a good size Musky struck his bucktail from the side. Instantly he set the hooks only to have the Musky do the same thing my fish had done only minutes earlier. We missed two more fish later that same morning. Admittedly, we were both getting pretty disgusted with the situation. Determined to figure out why we were missing all these fish, I began to analyze and experiment. The muskies did not seem to be chasing the lures, but instead they appeared to be striking from fixed ambush points as the bucktail went past them. I reasoned that because of the limited visibility in the heavy weeds these "ambush feeders" were striking at the bright colored blade, which was the most visible part of the bucktail to them. I also felt the single treble hooks on these lures were out of position for a solid hookset, and a good head shake could easily dislodge them. A quick check of my bucktail box revealed enough spare parts to add a second hook to these bucktails just behind the blade. This proved to be just the ticket. Three nice muskies all hooked solidly on that front hook. proved my point. A huge increase from zero to 100 percent success resulted. To an experienced Musky angler a bucktail is a lot more than just a spinner. It's an exacting skill. Here are a few personal tips on some of the many variables in the art of bucktail fishing.

BUCKTAIL RUNNING DEPTH Picking the right bucktail to run at a desired depth is also a science. There can be a big difference in running depths from one style to another. Sure you can fish almost any bucktail spinner shallow or deep and anywhere in between, but there are differences that allow one to perform better in a particular situation. Some of the main factors governing running depth are blade style, blade size, weight and balance, and your retrieve speed. The amount of drag and lift that a blade creates has a big effect on the running depth of a bucktail. Round wide blades like the "Colorado", or traditional "fluted" create the most lift hence are better adapted to shallow situations. Long narrow blades like a "Willow" are better suited to running deeper. They create far less drag and lift. The "Indiana" and ever popular French blade falls in about the middle making it a good choice for mid depth presentations. Also remember that blade style and thickness determine the sound a bucktail makes as well. Round wide blades tend to produce more noise as do thicker blades.

WEIGHT AND BALANCE Obviously a heavier bucktail would naturally run a little deeper just as one with less weight would surely run closer to the surface. But you also have to consider things like lure balance and castability. A buck-tail that is weighted too "nose heavy" tends to flip over and foul its rear hook on the leader during the cast. At the same time, excess weight in the tail end often makes for a bucktail in which the blade doesn't "start" easily. A very light bucktail may be very easy to bulge over shallow weeds, but the lack of weight can make it almost impossible to cast on a windy day. Quick changes in bucktail weighting can be accomplished in several ways. If you are going to disassemble the lure and reassemble it on a new wire shaft you can use different size egg sinkers, beads, and lure bodies to make weight changes. However, quick and easy changes can be made by attaching clip-on style bell sinkers to the rear wire loop or by simply wrapping on an appropriate amount of solid core lead solder. COLOR AND VISIBILITY There are still a few Musky fishermen who believe that any color bucktail is fine just as long as it is black. The fact is, that if you are not occasionally trying several colors, you are probably missing out on some Musky action at certain times. Over the last few years many Musky anglers have had tremendous success with really bright flashy colors, especially in stained water and under low light conditions. I think there are two main reasons

is lure visibility. A Musky cannot strike what it cannot see, and these brighter colors are often more visible to them. The second reason being simply that it's something different from the usual array of lures the muskies have seen. Bucktails are now available in almost any color one can imagine. And if you can't find what you want, or just plain desire to experiment, there are blades, bucktail hair, plastic trailers, and prism tapes available in a multitude of colors and patterns. Above all don't be afraid to try some really wild color combinations. You might come up with something really hot. TEASERS AND TRAILERS Many of the old time Musky anglers always used a pork rind strip behind their lures to entice Musky strikes. Now we not only still have pork strips but soft plastic worms and twister tail grubs in almost any color imaginable. And best of all, adding one of these as a "teaser" really does provoke a strike when all else seems to fail. There are several ways to hang a teaser from the back of your bucktail, and here's a couple of things to remember. Teasers should hang parallel to the hook shank to avoid unnecessary line twist. Don't let a "teaser" hang more than an inch or so back behind the hook either. Otherwise, you'll probably experience a lot of short strikes.

HOOK 'EM! Now that I have discussed things that will attract a Musky and get it to strike, the focus shifts to getting hooks into that Musky a higher percentage of the time. I have already sighted an example of the importance in hook placement on a bucktail and how adding an additional hook can help at times. Here are a couple more suggestions that will up your odds of getting a higher hooking percentage. Most of us have all too often felt a "bump" caused by a Musky nipping at the lure. Trimming the bucktail hairs so very little hair sticks out behind the hook really helps to hook those "nippers". Still another thing that increases hooking is bending the hook points slightly outward. This not only effectively increases hook size, but also helps them stick much quicker. Of course, sharpening the hooks before each use is paramount. TOOLS AND PARTS Modifying bucktails can range from minor addons to total lure breakdown and re-assembly. Yet even major projects are not all that difficult, requiring only a couple of tools: one good pair of wire cutters and a pair of round noise wire bending pliers. You can easily put together an inexpensive tacklebox kit that will allow you to quickly attempt almost any bucktail modification. In this kit you should include, a few lengths of .045 to .052 bucktail wire (8 to 12" long), an assortment of blades, hooks, beads, egg sinkers, clevises, and prism tape. There are also other small

parts and pieces you may want to include, as well. The whole kit should fit into a small plastic box or zip bag that you can easily stow away in your boat. Bucktails are already one of the most productive lures you can use. But with a little ingenuity and effort, you may make them even better. Modifying and experimenting with lures can be an enjoyable and rewarding pastime, as well. Now it's up to you. You can throw the same old lures or be creative and show them something new.

-Sizing For Spring Musky By Craig Sandell © 2012 Planning for a Musky hunt can never start too soon. This year, in addition to the normal array of lures in my arsenal, I have added 3 lures that were bought to give me the option of down-sizing my lure presentation to match seasons or weather conditions. The conventional wisdom holds that in Spring the smaller lures seem to get more attention that the larger lures that we throw in Summer and Fall. Having the flexibility to down-size is an important option. How many times do you hear about the guy fishing for another species with a jig and minnow who ends up with a nice sized Musky at the end of his lightweight tackle? Many anglers will also encourage using smaller lures after a cold front comes through during the Summer months.

So, here are my choices for down-sizing for this Musky season: This is a down-sized Crane shallow running crankbait. I plan to increase the size of the hooks a little bit from the #2 shown above to the #1/0 shown below. The lure is about 6½ inches long, made of balsa wood and has a little glitter added to the epoxy coating for some flash. It can be used as a crankbait or twitched.

This is a small version of the Suick. It is a weighted lure and it is about 7 inches long. The lure is an excellent configuration and I hold high expectations for the lure in the coming season. This little gem is a Water Walker. It is an excellent small surface lure, about 4 inches long. The one piece body spins freely on the shaft propelled during the retrieve by the tail blade as it 'thumps' against the water. The neat thing about the lure is that the configuration is somewhat flexible. You can use it as you see it or you can attach an additional dressed skirt and trailer hook to the existing split ring as long as you don't make it too big or heavy.

ny tackle shop at prices that range from $9.00 to $19.00. As I said earlier in this article, it is important to have the flexibility during the Musky hunt to vary the size and presentation of lures to match the seasons and changing weather conditions. There are other fine 'down-sized' lures that one could consider like; • The Bagley Monster Shad • The Brooktails Reactor • The Slammer Minnow Baits • The Grandma 6" Deep Diver (as a twitch bait) • The Rapala 5" Super Shad Rap • The Mepps Muskie Killer • The Wiley 5½" Musky Killer Jackson Lures Unlimited has a good assortment of lures at very good prices. You should also visit your local bait shop. Don't lock yourself into a single lure size or type. We Are All In This Together !

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO FISH MUSKIES? Louie Spray Speaks Spring and fall are generally considered the best times, but it hasn't proved out that way for me. I caught one World Record, 59½ pounds in July and another one, 61 lbs., 13 oz., in August. During either of these months they are supposed to have sore teeth and not bite. But it stands to reason they have to eat, sore teeth or not. So, Muskies can be caught during the hot season, but fish them deeper. Early morning is by far the best time if you want to fish the shoreline. If you can find a good Muskie lake where there are bars quite far out from the shore, say 8 to 12 feet deep, keep passing over it with any good bait right down about a few feet off the bottom and you are apt to get yourself a nice fish. River fishing is excellent late in the fall…fish sunny side of the stream. It is, I believe, impossible to place in writing the one best way to catch a Muskie, because I don't believe there is any one best way! So, use your imagination and ingenuity. Don't be afraid or ashamed to try an idea that comes to mind, no matter how sharp the guy you are fishing with is supposed to be. Old timers, such as myself, flub our dub too! And by no means should you be ashamed to troll for them. It's a little work rowing the boat, but it's a darn good way to hook a Muskie. (Guides will kill me for mentioning this!) So, in conclusion, I just want to say that I don't pretend to be the best Muskie fisherman in the world, or to know everything there is to know about it, but if you will follow somewhat the routine as

herein outlined, you won't wind up being the worst Muskie fisherman either. Editor's Note: We hope that you have enjoyed these articles and perhaps picked up a tip or two. This article is a glimpse back into the early days of Musky fishing before large outboard motors, trolling motors, depth finders and fancy reels. This article shows Louie Spray for what he really was: a man who loved to fish for Musky and who just happened to catch 3 World Records.

By Craig Sandell © 2014 For some time now the WDNR, the Lac Du Flambeau Tribe and some notables in the Musky Community have tried to hang the label of "tabloid" or "vigilante" on Musky America. As the editor and owner of Musky America, I have let these untrue characterizations pass without comment, however, I believe that the time has come to put the record straight. Musky America was established in 1996 and now ranks within the top 5 search results for the keyword "Musky" on Google, Yahoo and Bing. It is self-funded and receives No Income from advertising. My mission statement is: It is my belief that Muskie anglers deserve to have a meaningful publication that provides frank, concise, timely and accurate information about Muskie fishing without the hype that comes with slick advertising and the quest for the dollars in your wallet. Unlike some printed periodicals, this Internet site provides you with timely tips about Musky fishing and also gives you a powerful research tool by which to enhance your Musky knowledge. Best of all, unlike printed periodicals, the information is FREE of forced advertising and FREE to view. Musky America has over 300 articles that deal with a wide range of information about the sport of Musky angling. There is

also a knowledge base search engine to make it easy for visitors to find articles using a keyword search. In addition, Musky America has established this information website to provide Musky anglers with reviews of lures and tackle items that I consider worthy of consideration. You will be hard pressed to find another family of websites that provides this level of information without someone trying to shove advertising down your throat. So why do some Musky notables, the Lac Du Flambeau Tribe and the WDNR, try to attach a tabloid or vigilante label to Musky America? Well, Musky America does have articles that some may consider controversial. It bears notice that other Musky information outlets like Musky Hunter Magazine and Muskies, Inc., do not cover articles that may be controversial. Other articles, related to the World Record garner complaints due to their frank discussion of the lack of journalistic quality employed by writers who are "Musky Notables" as do articles exposing the WDNR for the political stagnation that has ruined the Musky fisheries of Northern Wisconsin. Other articles like, "Hall of Fame Rejects Pete Maina's Assertions", "Cal Johnson's Grandson's Rebuff Of Larry Ramsell" and "Hayward Guides Banned at The Landing", are factual representations of news and events that are relevant to the Musky angling community. In all cases, the individuals identified in these articles provided every opportunity to have their comments posted word for word, without the fear of any editorializing.

It is easy to understand, after reading these articles, why these Musky notables and the WDNR try to discredit Musky America for publishing such information…it is the age old story of someone of notoriety or political power "shooting the messenger when information they did not want known is disclosed." I would personally like to thank all of the thousands of Musky anglers who, over the past years, have sent Emails thanking Musky America for providing straight forward and useful information about the sport of Musky angling. I would also like to thank the thousands of monthly visitors to Musky America Magazine. To those Musky anglers with opinions about the sport and politics of Musky fishing, I welcome your perspective...To those few who are unable to express themselves without resorting to childish tantrums and abusive language and who feel that Musky America Magazine is an affront to their sensibilities…don’t visit the site. Tight Lines

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