Walleye Central

 Ultimate Topwater Experience By Colin Crawford

 I pulled into a weed edge and threw out a Bucher Top Raider and before the ripples could subside I had a huge musky blow up on my bait. I let it sit there a moment, then gave it a little twitch. POW! I was off to the races. The musky pulled on my bait and crushed it cross wise in its mouth. The rod felt heavy and then it also started to head for the weeds. I quickly felt that weight and reacted by setting the hooks and five minutes later landed and released a 50-inch musky.

Although it is easy to say and difficult to accomplish, do not set the hook until you feel the strike. Many times a musky "blows-up" on the lure several feet away. Wait until you feel resistance before setting the hook.

The muskellunge is revered as one of North Americaís great game fish. It is big. It is powerful. It is elusive and rare. It is capricious and difficult to catch. It strikes savagely and fights strongly, often spectacular, ripping out line and frequently leaping from the water. It is worthy of obsession A few Phelps, Wis. area anglers have dedicated themselves to its capture, spending hundreds of hours in pursuit of a trophy fish. When these musky fanatics catch a lunker, more than likely they let it go. In doing so, they preserve the sport and the sport of others. Why? Partly it is due to the muskies rarity. But probably for more than any other reason, the musky is revered because it is big - really big. It easily can exceed 30 pounds, and anglers commonly catch fish in excess of 10 pounds. In comparison northern pike can get quite large, but they rarely do. The reason they don't according to many fish managers, is largely a result of heavy fishing pressure.

Muskies, being at the top of the freshwater food chain, have no serious enemies. Having nothing to fear, they are not even bashful around boats and motors, which accounts for the times they frequently follow a lure to a boat and appear boatside. Muskies often feed on very large forage fish. It takes several days for muskies to digest large fish. Although they may observe daily activity periods, it is not necessary for them to feed daily, which also accounts for the times they follow boats. Larger fish must exert more energy to pursue prey. Therefore, unless muskies are particularly hungry or aggressive, they are basically tuned to the sounds, motions and scents of crippled or injured prey and an easy to catch meal. Injured game fish thrashing or struggling on a boatside stringer bear all the characteristics of an easy meal.

Topwater fishing is truly exciting. Not all strikes are as dramatic, but anytime a musky strikes a lure on the surface, it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

A musky thatís in a positive mood often hits away from the boat, but those that follow show aggression by nipping at the lure or periodically rushing the lure with gills flaring. If you spot this type of follow before your lure reaches boatside, increase your retrieve speed slightly and that alone will often trigger a strike.

A musky that follows a lure usually seems to be in a trance. Its eyes are fixed on the moving lure as it swims behind it at about the same speed as the lure.

As soon as you spot a follow, lower your rod tip to the surface of the water. Maintain a smooth and steady retrieve speed as you reel the lure to within a foot of the rod tip. Now make a right angle directional change right or left as you smoothly push the rod tip down into the water and begin a figure eight.

Remember, too, that June is a month of great changes for muskies. At the beginning of the month, the big females are lethargic and scattered in deeper water. By the end of the month when the weedbeds are fully grown, muskies are usually established in their summertime haunts, and July is a primetime. These fish are never easy. To fish them takes devotion, perseverance and skills peculiar to musky fishing.

Often musky fishing takes imagination, a bit of experimentation, sometimes something wildly different especially in June. Yet the typically long, lonely wearying hours are worth it. When it comes to downright awesome power, heavyweight acrobatics and lightning quick excitement, there is not freshwater game fish that can match olí Toothy Critter like a musky.

If you are in the Phelps, Wisconsin area look me up at: 715-545-8347. If I am not at home I will be on the water and you will know it is me because I have the NPAA # 94 on my boat.

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