Late-summer musky fishing offered a welcomed change

? This past weekend was probably the quietest one of the entire summer for me. There were no tournaments and I had no visitors in town, so I was able to get some downtime and catch up a bit from what has been a crazy summer.
Don’t get me wrong, I live for fishing all the bass tournaments that I do and I love having company in town to spend time on the water with. But sometimes it’s just nice to relax and change the pace a little bit.
On Sunday, I hooked up with my good fishing buddy, Jay Samsal, for a day of chasing muskies on Lake of the Woods. So yes, I was still on the water for one day but it was a fun day without any stress or anyone to impress.
Samsal is on top of muskies on Lake of the Woods better than any of my friends, so it was a good chance for me to learn more about chasing a fish I don’t pursue all the often.
His family has a cabin in the Big Narrows area of the lake, which is one of the best zones for not only numbers of fish but big muskies, as well.
It was a learning experience for me, to say the least. We saw a bunch of nice muskies, as well as few big pike.
The first thing that Samsal looks at is location. No matter what species of fish you choose to target, location is important because if you aren’t putting your lure in front of the fish, you aren’t going to catch any.
We started out fishing some classic main lake rock structures—small islands with large reef systems extending off of them. Musky will patrol these large structures and when they are looking to feed, they will set up in ambush positions around a clump of weeds or a boulder.
We started to see fish quickly, by the second spot, and continued to make contact with muskies throughout the day so we didn’t stray too far from this locational pattern.
But if you try a few rock reefs and don’t see any fish, you may want to change things up a bit by looking for fish in current areas, weeds, in deeper water, or under isolated cover like docks or trees in the water.
The second decision Samsal makes is his lure choice. I threw a double-bladed in-line spinner for the entire day–a Northland Boobie Trap—which is a bait we both have a lot of confidence in. They simply catch fish.
Samsal rotated between four or five other baits to try and let the fish tell him what they wanted. A glide bait, a topwater bait, and a large plastic Bulldog were the lures that saw the most action.
?As it turned out, the blades were hot and moved the most fish for us over the course of the day, although he did have a couple of big fish follow his glide bait—a Rapala Glidin’ Rap.
At the end of the day, it’s all about letting the fish tell you what they want, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
We have some of the best musky waters in the world right here at our door–Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, Eagle Lake, and Lac Seul, not to mention hundreds of other smaller waters. It takes a little bit of gear to get set up to chase muskies but once you’re rigged up, you’re good to go.
There certainly is no greater rush in fishing than seeing a monster musky follow your lure. There’s just something about their eyes and the way they swim so effortlessly that is really intriguing.
Back to bass, there still are a few tournaments left before the end of the season.
This coming weekend is the International Falls Bass Championship on the U.S. side of Rainy Lake and the Rainy River.
There are no tournaments on the Labour Day weekend, but we have the annual “Bassin’ For Bucks” tournament in Sioux Narrows on Sept. 9-11 and then the Crow Lake Bass Classic returns to Nestor Falls on Sept. 17-18.
There still are spots open for both of these events.

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