WHACK THE WEEDS FOR PIKE AND MUSKIES
Summer is the time for the Esox family. Both northern pike and muskellunge have recovered from the spawn and are responding to rising water temps. And both are ready to feed. Right now, you’ll find most of these fish in shallow bays and in areas with new weed growth, but to be successful you’ll need to effectively dissect your way through all of that vegetation.
In the weedbeds, bucktails and spinnerbaits are great for working the mid- and upper-water columns, and topwaters, obviously, have the surface covered. But when pike and muskies are buried—and want to stay buried—getting a bait down to them is key. The tool for this, and probably the most overlooked pike and muskie lure there is, is a swim jig. An oversize rubber-skirted jig tipped with a meaty soft-plastic trailer is almost completely weedless, and the sink rate of a leadhead and large trailer can be easily controlled, allowing the bait to be fished at any depth.
A deadly combo is a J-mac Musky Jig with a 6-inch Lunker City Shaker. You may want to downsize your leader because larger muskie leaders generally have bulky terminal tackle that catches the vegetation. Consider Stealth Tackle’s Spring Leader, which has no barrel swivel or snap. Attach the jig to the solid ring with a No. 5 split ring and you’re ready to fish. —M.M.