Early season great for musky fishing

The third Saturday in June marked the opening of musky season across Sunset Country.
Following along on some of my friends’ social media feeds over the weekend, it looked like the musky fishing was pretty good as plenty of nice fish were popping up, which is nice to see.
Through my high school and university years, I spent my summers guiding at several different resorts around the region. Because I liked to fish in as many of the tournaments as I could, I used to work at different resorts, filling in whenever they had a busy week and needed the help.
I had six or seven places on Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, as well as a couple of fly-in outfits that kept me busy. This worked out well because I didn’t have anybody telling me when I had to work so I could fish in all of the tournaments.
It also allowed me to fish a variety of waters so I always was finding new areas to explore.
When I worked at these resorts, I used to spend a lot more time musky fishing than I do now and to be honest, I kind of miss it. Muskies are one of the main attractions for anglers visiting Northwestern Ontario because we have the best musky fisheries in the world for both numbers of fish as well as trophy fish.
When I get out musky hunting now, it’s usually always later in the fall when the bass tournaments are done. But I know I’m missing out by not fishing for them more at this time of year.
Early season is a great time to catch a musky for a number of reasons. Muskies spawn in late May or early June in shallow bays and coves, protected from areas exposed to the wind and big water.
Like most species, spawning is a rigorous activity that requires some recovery time for these fish, so they don’t often move too far from the areas where they spawn for at least a couple of weeks.
Knowing that, you want to start your search in shallow water, near protected bays, more than in main lake open areas where they will show up later in the summer.
The other thing you should know about early-season muskies is that they are lazy. Yet they do need to eat to help their recovery, so I always found that smaller profile baits were better in the early part of the year compared to the giant stuff we like to use in the fall.
Over-sized bass spinnerbaits always were my best bait but smaller topwaters and inline bucktails also produce.
Good polarized sunglasses are a must at this time of year because you actually will see a lot of fish cruising over shallow rocks or weeds–and sometimes you can lead them with your cast before they know you’re there and catch an extra fish or two.
There is no greater rush in fishing than watching a musky strike your lure.
If you do get out musky fishing in the coming weeks, be sure to make a cast next to every type of cover you see, like large boulders, logs or trees, docks, and even patches of weeds. These fish love to lay up next to one of these objects, patiently waiting for an easy meal to swim by.
Just be sure you cast past your target, then reel the bait over top of it because if you land these large lures right on top of the fish, you risk spooking them and they will not bite.
The next few weeks are a great time to get in the boat and hunt muskies. Focus on shallower areas, using slightly smaller lures, and keep your eyes peeled for isolated targets and you have a great shot at putting some big fish in the boat!