Musky season ready to open

Across Northwestern Ontario, we have a lot of anglers who love to fish for the biggest fish in our lakes.
Muskies also attract many anglers to Sunset Country because we have some of the top waters in the world for both numbers of fish and truly big fish.
In fact, there’s a good chance the next world record could come from Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, Eagle Lake, or one of many others in our part of the world that have a reputation for kicking out big fish.
The third Saturday in June marks the opening of musky season across Sunset Country. Traditionally, the early season is a good time to catch fish because most of the fish in the system will be found in relatively shallow water.
Musky spawn in spring (late May and early June) in shallow bays and coves, and my thought is they stay shallow for a few extra weeks because the warmer water helps them recover from the rigours of the spawn.
When the serious musky anglers head out this Saturday, they’re going to be looking shallow. Although some fish certainly will start showing up on those big main lake structures, where they spend much of the summer, most muskies this weekend will be caught around weed beds and shallow rock piles.
If you know where there are some good cabbage weed beds growing in six-12 feet of water, those can be hot right now. I would not pass up any pencil reed areas, either, especially if there is some rock around.
When it comes to tackle, you want to use baits that are going to stay higher in the water column, as well as downsize a little bit from those big lures that are popular later in the summer and fall, when muskies have a greater appetite for a big meal.
Smaller bucktails and topwater baits have been my favourites over the years for early in the season. They sneak through the weeds a little better, and they seem to trigger more strikes and less follows from sluggish fish.
Although muskies don’t weigh as much right now as they will later in the season, your chances at catching a big fish still are pretty good, so you should be prepared with the right gear to handle these big fish.
Shimano makes some good rods and reels specifically-designed with musky anglers in mind. For early-season fishing, where throwing bladed baits is pretty standard, longer rods in the eight-foot range make casting easy.
Serious musky anglers should consider investing in a quality net like the Frabill Big Kahuna, which is a standard model amongst the hard-core musky anglers I know.
These big nets allow you to get the fish scooped, then keep it in the net (in the water) to remove hooks and measure the fish.
These nets not only allow you to catch the fish easily, they are helpful in taking care of the fish because everything can be done in the water, then you quickly can lift the fish for a photo before releasing it.
The good thing about musky fishing on opening weekend is that there are fish in predictable locations, and they’ve not yet been pursued by anglers, so they are probably going to be a little more likely to bite rather than just follow in your lure.
Always remember to keep an eye on your lure as you bring it to the boat, and try to get in the habit of doing at least half a figure 8 at the end of each cast in case you have any late followers.
The biggest mistake I make is pulling my lure out of the water too soon after a cast, then a fish appears seconds later. But when you drop your bait back in the water, they know something is up and you won’t see them again.
Here’s to a great opening weekend for all you musky anglers out there!