Field and Stream - - F&S -

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.

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