Trolling time for musky

One thing about living in Sunset Country is there always is something fun to do outside.
The fishing, hunting, and general outdoor activity opportunities are off the charts in every way.
All the different species of fish, and excellent angling opportunities during every season, make it unlike any other place in Canada. And the vast amount of land to hunt is never-ending.
These are the reasons why so many people travel to our region to partake in these activities.
As a die-hard bass angler, I sometimes miss out on taking advantage of some hot bites for other species in the region. This past weekend, my buddy, Mike Reid from Sioux Narrows, and his girlfriend, Brittany Lundy, took my girlfriend, August, and I out musky fishing on Lake of the Woods.
I have caught some muskies before, but most were by accident when I was looking for bass. And we would spend the afternoon trolling large crankbaits—something I don’t have a lot of experience doing.
Mike is a good friend and awesome fisherman. We have fished the annual “Bassin’ For Bucks” tournament in Sioux Narrows together since it first started in 1996 (we were 13 at the time). He is a very good musky angler—evident by all the big fish he has put in the boat for clients when he used to guide on the lake.
This day was a really good learning experience for me as Mike shared some of his fall trolling tricks for putting more muskies in the boat.
Mike likes October more than any other time of the year for catching musky, especially big fish. His approach is to spend all of his time trolling.
Some anglers like to cast, but he feels like he is putting his bait in front of more fish that want to bite when he is trolling than you could by casting.
Plenty of fish are caught casting each year, don’t get me wrong, he just does not spend any time casting. That is his approach—and it works.
We spent our day fishing a number of neck-down areas around the lake. All kinds of narrows and channels, as well as a few wind-blown points.
If there was some current around, that was not a bad thing.
The key structural feature I noticed was that most of the stretches Mike was trolling were deep shorelines that dropped off really quickly from shore. You could describe them as walls.
He explained that the ciscos and whitefish were not quite up really shallow, where they will spawn on sandy and rocky shorelines in the coming weeks. Rather, he felt like they were close and use these deep shorelines as a staging spot before they move really shallow.
We noticed quite a bit of activity on the Humminbird sonar throughout the day to back up this theory.
It goes without saying that the baits we chose to use were large cisco- and whitefish-imitating crankbaits. Large baits with mid-depth diving lips on them.
I had a couple samples of a new bait from Storm called a Giant Flat Stick that put a couple fish in the boat. These baits are new this year, but I can tell you they will catch muskies.
The action on them is really nice, and they can be trolled at relatively high speeds and they will run true. The natural colour patterns on these baits look really good, too.
For gear, Mike runs 7’6” Shimano and G. Loomis Musky rods matched with Shimano Calcutta 400 reels. He rigs his combos with 80-pound Power Pro line and uses 36” fluorocarbon leaders designed for trolling.
There is no better time than in the next couple of weeks to get on the water and troll up a big musky.
Just remember that the water is getting cold, so dress warm and be careful.

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