Walleye Central

Five Tips To Improve Your Success In 2000
By Tom Dietz 

This article is intended to help you put more fish in the boat this season.  I have chosen five pieces of advice that have consistently put muskies in my boat each year.  Often the hardest thing to change when it comes to changing fishing success is having an open
mind.  I hope these tips will help you catch more fish in 2000.

1).  SHARPEN YOUR HOOKS!-  I am amazed at the number of anglers who feel that the hooks are "razor sharp" right out of the box.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  While our hooks of today are of excellent quality, they must still be sharpened to get
the optimum level of sharpness needed to be effective.  This is especially true on trophy fish.  I highly recommend purchasing a quality flat file (Luhr Jensen is my favorite) and sharpen your hooks from barb to tip. You do not need to put a lot of pressure on the
file to obtain the desired results.  When properly sharpened, the hook should "stick" to your fingernail with slight pressure.  This tip alone will put a lot more fish in your boat year after year and eliminate most of "the one that got away" stories.

2). BECOME VERSATILE WITH DIFFERENT LURE STYLES-  To become a better angler, one must learn to fish each lure type confidently and know when to use the right bait.  Most anglers are pretty proficient throwing bucktails and topwater lures,  but many
anglers shy away from crankbaits or jigs.  It is critical that you learn how to properly fish a jig or crankbait as these two lure types can really excel during tough cold front conditions when fish will not commit to bucktails or topwaters.  Crankbaits should not be
thrown out and just reeled in.  These are deadly weapons when fished around weed edges or rock.  Try to make contact with the cover you are fishing, the trick is keeping your lure "clean" of weeds during the retrieve.  This can be done by letting your line go
slack and popping your rod tip two to three times hard to clean the debris off your lure.  This will often trigger a strike, too.  My favorite crankbaits are the Depthraiders and Shallowraiders for fishing this type of cover.  Jigs are a superb choice for October or
times when you have a severe cold front situation.  My favorite retrieve is to simply cast the jig out along a deep weed edge, let it fall to the bottom, and begin a series of "reel, reel, stop...reel,reel, stop..." retrieves, keeping your rod tip about ten o'clock.  Often your
strike will be just a bump, so be ready.  Gene Curtis makes a great muskie jig.

3). BOAT CONTROL / ELECTRONICS- Proper boat control and the ability to read a quality graph will also reward you with more muskies each year.  Start out by  purchasing a quality map of the lake(s) you want to fish.  Study the map for weed edges, rock points, inside turns of points, etc.  I highly recommend a quality trolling motor so you can stay on these good spots and fish them thoroughly, even in a brisk wind.  I run a Minn Kota Maxxum with 74lbs. thrust.  Do not just drift aimlessly over a weedbed or point.  Fish the edges or pockets and inside turns.  To do this effectively, you need a quality graph such as Lowrance's X-85.  With 200 vertical pixels you can really almost "see" what's down there.  Learn to control your boat effectively, even on windy days,  and rely on your electronics to keep you on the structure and you will catch more muskies, simply by putting your lures in more high percentage areas. 

4).  ALWAYS FIGURE 8-  If you do not figure eight after each and every cast you are probably reducing the chances of catching more muskies by close to twenty percent.  The properly executed Figure 8 will often trigger vicious strikes at boatside.  You should
Figure 8 all lure types, including topwaters.  I caught a nice 43" fish last year on a Topraider that bulged behind the lure almost all the way to the boat and then sank out of sight.  Since the water was dark, I started doing blind Figure 8's, submerging the Topraider the whole time.  On the fourth pass I felt something like a wet sock on my lure.  The water exploded as I set the hook and I soon had a fat 43" fish in the net.  You can do several techniques with your lure at boatside.  My favorites are the true Figure 8 technique and the large oval technique.  Vary the depth of your lure during these maneuvers to help elicit strikes.   Give the musky the impression that your lure is panicking and trying to get away.  I prefer the large oval technique when I see a big fish behind the lure.  These bigger fish can't turn real tight in a normal Figure 8 and can become disoriented with this technique.  The oval is easier for them to follow.  Train yourself to get in the habit of doing this on every cast and you will catch more muskies! 

5).  LEARN NEW WATER / BE OPEN MINDED-  A critical element of musky fishing success is knowing different bodies of water intimately.  I often see the situation where a particular lake goes dead for a week or so.  When this happens, hit a different lake if
possible.  If you are fishing a gin clear lake, hit a dark water lake or vice versa.  These other lake types could be "hot" and you want to maximize your limited time on the water.  Also, do not overlook night fishing!  This holds true especially on lakes that are clear with lots of boat traffic.  Hit these lakes with crankbaits along weed edges or with noisy surface baits (Topraiders, Creepers) over weed flats and you will catch fish.  The old saying bolds well. "The fish are either deep, shallow or somewhere in between".  If you are not seeing fish in the weed flats or edges or on rocks, try fishing over open water for suspended muskies.  Use your locator to spot schools of suspended bait fish and cast to these schools with deep diving cranks such as the Depthraider.  Remember, if your not moving fish keep an open mind and try something different.  Try to put the odds in you favor. 

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