OPEN WIDE FOR ’SKIES
Virtually every school of fishing will pound the word structure into your head. Fish love structure. This is thought to be especially true for the muskellunge. Any muskie angler knows that the fish love to hunt in the cabbage. But one of the most overlooked, and highly effective, patterns for catching fall muskies is targeting them in open water. Some muskies will spend their entire lives in the basin, never venturing into the shallows, and these fish tend to be true giants. The key factor is, of course, food. Where a wide variety of baitfish including herring, shad, crappies, perch, ciscoes, and whitefish are schooled up in open water almost any time of the year, you’ll find muskies by finding the bait.
Going after open-water muskies is best done with baits that can penetrate deeper into the water column. It’s hard to beat a large hunk of rubber like a Musky Innovations Pounder Bulldawg or Chaos Tackle Medussa. These heavy lures are meant to be thrown on 80- to 100-pound braided line and XXH rods. You’ll also want to use a quality, 135-pound fluoro muskie leader.
Finding bait schools shouldn’t be difficult with quality electronics. (A side scanner can go a long way but isn’t entirely necessary.) Focus on areas that have lower water temps in the warmer months and higher water temps in the cooler months. A sustained steady breeze can also push food particles and bait to the downwind side of the lake. Proceed to cast over and through these bait schools. Be persistent and be patient. This is, after all, muskie fishing.