Predator time on the water

It was exactly two years ago this week that my pal, Mike Reid, and I spent a day out on Lake of the Woods shooting a “Fishing with Gussy” episode for musky.
We fished hard all day and while we had a few follows, hooked a couple of muskies, and landed a few pike, it almost was a failed attempt to film a show until, just as the sun was hitting the trees, Mike hooked up the biggest musky that I’ve ever got to put my hands on.
Made for a great show!
Late fall is popular with hard-core pike and musky anglers because these big predators are feeding heavily as they prepare for the long winter coming up. These fish show up in predictable locations, where they gorge themselves on whitefish and cisco that are spawning in shallow water around current and windswept rocks.
Fish are heavy and looking to eat, so it’s a good scenario for anglers.
On Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake, the best fishing areas are busy right now, especially with the warm weather that keeps hanging around. Anglers who spend a lot of time on the water at this time of year know where the good spawning areas are for the whitefish and cisco that muskies are following—evident by their presence on the electronics.
Most of the action is going to happen between six and 20 feet of water.
When it comes to catching fish, trolling large lures that imitate the bait has long been the most proven technique. But in recent years, casting and jigging with large soft plastic baits has become more popular.
When Mike caught the big fish for our TV show, he caught it casting a large Bulldawg soft plastic bait. The fish followed the bait to the boat and bit with only a few feet of line out; it was pretty awesome.
Trolling windswept rocky shorelines can be an effective pattern because whitefish and cisco will spawn on the clean rocks. There doesn’t necessarily need to be wind blowing hard on the shoreline when you fish it, just a stretch of shoreline that wind hits quite often and keeps the rocks clean from too much algae growing on them.
Neck down areas with some current moving through also are high percentage spots. If there is a deep hole nearby even better, because large schools of bait will stage over these holes.
Pike and musky will wait until a fish leaves the school and then pounce on them.
It’s around these deeper holes that casting and jigging the soft plastic baits will work well. My friends who fish a lot at this time of year like to look for schools of bait on their electronics, then drift through them with the current while vertically jigging a Bondy Bait.
It’s a different way to catch a musky but it works well.
Over the weekend, my friend, Derek Wagenaar, was out at his cabin on Lake of the Woods and took a bunch of kids fishing. They had a great day on the lake that included a bunch of walleyes and a nice musky that he caught when they went past a popular late-fall spot.
He said the kids were pretty excited to see such a big fish come in the boat.
Time is running out on another open-water season here in Sunset Country, so take advantage of this mild weather that were getting because a long winter is coming up!