By Tom Dietz
Tips To Improve Your Success In 2000
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.