Musky action heating up across Sunset Country

Across the Sunset Country region, muskies are the fish species that comes to mind when people think about big fish. It’s for good reason because we have some of the best musky fisheries in the world right here in our backyard.
Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, Wabigoon Lake, and Eagle Lake attract anglers from far and wide every year but there are hundreds of other lakes and rivers across the region which have excellent musky populations as well.
Each season many big fish are caught. Annually, the musky season opens the third Saturday in June in Northwest Ontario and remains open through the open water season.
On our big waters, the minimum length to keep a musky is 54 inches, so very few fish are harvested anymore.
It has led to the best fishing opportunities in the past century on many waters.
Through the month of July the Lake of the Woods Museum in Kenora had a special exhibit on display featuring “The History of Sport Fishing on Lake of the Woods.”
Looking through many of the old photos that were on display at this exhibit it was evident that back in the ’30s and ’40s, anglers did not release muskies.
Most all of the photos featured muskies hanging from stringers.
Over time the attitude of anglers changed and now, most fish are handled with care and released to be caught another day.
One thing I have learned about muskies is that they love warm weather in the summer. It seems like when we get those August heat waves it is the best time of the entire season to get on the water, the other peak period being late in the fall just before our lakes freeze up.
The warm water kicks up their metabolism and my experiences have been that muskies get shallow and they get aggressive.
Casting is the best way to pick apart reefs and small islands, looking for isolated pieces of cover that could hold a fish.
Muskies are territorial and when the conditions are good, like when we have several days of consistent weather, they like to bite.
My friend, Sean McAughey, is a guide out at Ash Rapids Camp on Lake of the Woods and he has experienced some of the best musky fishing he has ever seen over the past week. He has put his guests on several big fish, including a 52-inch monster.
He has been finding fish shallow on main lake rockpiles and island complexes.
Most of the fish have been coming on bucktail style in-line spinners, like the Northland Booby Trap but he has also caught a few big fish jigging a large soft plastic bait under the boat while his clients are casting.
The hot jigging bait is called a “Bondy Bait,” made by a guide from Lake St. Clair. It is an oversized soft plastic bait that is a perfect cisco and walleye imitation.
Vertically jigging for muskies not a technique that is widely used in our part of the world so it’s something that the fish have not seen before.
It’s deadly in current areas and for covering deeper water around the shallow structures.
If the fish are not up shallow feeding, chances are good they are just off the edge where this type of bait can make contact with them.
It’s musky time across Sunset Country, get out there and take advantage of these big fish available just outside our door!

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