Cold Weather Muskies
by Gary Engberg
November is here and time for the serious muskie fisherman to put on their best cold weather gear and get fishing. This month is the time to catch the fish of a lifetime. If you check statistics you will see that a vast majority of big muskies are caught in the fall and particularly November. The reason is quite simple; these big fish are feeding heavily and bulking up for the winter months when their feeding is greatly reduced.
Northern Wisconsin, especially the Vilas county area, is a muskie hunter's dream. You have hundreds and hundreds of lakes to chose from in the county. No matter what direction the wind blows it is always possible to find a lake that you can fish on. All Vilas county lakes have had turnover, so that should not be a factor in picking a lake to fish. Do a little research on your own and even call the DNR at their Woodruff office to ask about what lakes they may recommend. Vilas county has lakes of all sizes.so pick a class A muskie that appeals to you. With so many lakes in a small area, it is possible to fish a couple lakes everyday. Be sure to pick a lake that has big fish potential because some lakes produce fish, but not big fish.
Since, all the lakes have turned over; you may find fish at about any depth. Don't be afraid of fishing shallow water because if baitfish and forage are shallow the muskies will be close behind. If you still can find any green weeds fish them hard because they are a magnet for fish. Lakes with a cisco forage base are excellent because cisco spawn in the fall. Slowly motor around your lake and look for the balls of baitfish which you should be able to see on your electronics. Try scoping deep water structure (humps, islands, bars) for these baitfish schools. Also, deep water close to structure and shallow water should be fished thoroughly.
If you fail to find fish shallow, start looking for muskies deeper. Some of the largest muskies may move deeper particularly if they can find green vegetation. Big fish will also suspend over deep water. As an example, in 25 feet of water the big females may be 10 to 15 feet down. This is why good electronics like a Lowrance LMS 350 is a must to target the baitfish and then the big "hooks"
(muskies) should be in the area.
Some guides only fish big suckers on a Bait Rigs or Smity Quick Set Rig this time of the year. But, you still can catch fish on jerk baits and crank baits (Smity, Bucher, Eddie, and Suicks are the best) so cast baits and ALWAYS have a sucker or two at different depths near the boat for follow ups. Be sure to have on good glasses (Costa De Mars) so you can see the fish and do figure eight's at the boat before taking your lure out of the water.
Remember, to use quick set rigs because they save muskies!
Lakes in Vilas county to check out include; Trout, Big Arbor Vitae, Big Muskellunge, Big St. Germain, Crawling Stone, Presque Isle, North Twin, White Sand, and Star Lake.
Guides; Russ and Jake Smith 715 356-5565, Todd Siebrecht 715 362-6601, Jim Weston 715-385-2774, Tom Swanson 715 385-2168,