It's true - you can catch muskies at any time a year - however, autumn is a magical time for most angler's and is the period where the most serious trophy hunters venture out in search of old esox.
As the water begins to cool and the pleasure boaters slowly begin storing their boats for winter; muskies can be found scattered in both deep and shallow waters.
Here are a few tricks to help you boat a musky this fall.
While muskies are often caught in summer holding areas, often large weed flats in shallow water, I prefer to fish in deeper water. I position my boat in shallow water and cast the reverse of what I would in the summer. I like to work the whole water column as muskies will cruise open water in search for food. They can be caught just below the surface, suspended mid-depth and close to the bottom, so a variety of lures and techniques are required to figure out where they are and what they want to eat.
Bigger is better when it comes to fall muskies. Diehard anglers use lures in excess of 15". Using large lures requires the proper tackle to ensure successful angling and to make certain you are not going to lose a lure to a fish. I like to use 100-lb braided line with a long 130-lb fluorocarbon leader. When fishing for muskies it is important to have your release tools ready and accessible. Two sets of long needle-nose pliers, hook cutters and jaw spreaders are required as well as a large musky sized landing net. Have your camera ready and keep the fish in the water until you are ready to take a quick photo. Although muskies have a reputation for being one of the meanest freshwater fish, they really are a fragile species and require proper handling to ensure a safe release.
Summer musky anglers cast and troll fast. A general rule to consider for landing fall musky is to note that as the water temperatures drop, so should your retrieval or trolling speed. In summer months I have caught muskies trolling with speeds over 6 MPH and in late-fall (Late November-December) trolling around 2 MPH seems to be the ticket.
I hope to see many of you on the water this fall and I can't wait to see your photos!
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Jamie Pistilli has been fishing the waters of North America and the Caribbean for over 20 years, and although he has caught everything from tarpon to sharks, his specialty is trophy musky and carp fishing. Jamie hosted a season of Big City Fishing, has appeared as a guest on The New Fly Fisher and The Kayak Fishing Show with Jim Sammons and was featured on the award winning DVD Game ON a Kayak Fishing Movie. He has been featured in numerous fishing publications including the cover of Ontario Out Of Doors and is a regional editor for Kayak Angler Magazine. He's also a member of the Ocean Kayak Pro Team, and an active adviser, guide and fishing consultant in Ottawa, Ontario. Jamie lives just across the Quebec border, and serves as WFN's Eastern Canada Expert by providing updates and information for Quebec and the East Coast.