Dr. Jason Halfen
Musky activity peaks in late summer, as warm water temperatures drive these apex predators to feed opportunistically on abundant natural forage, and to aggressively chase anglers’ baits. Full-time musky devotees frequently drop their paychecks on custom topwaters and giant multi-blade bucktails, study the moon and sun charts, and target trophy waters to get their summer musky fix. Then, there are the rest of us: anglers with families and jobs, who split limited fishing time among several different target species swimming in convenient locations. For us, the musky bug has yet to take complete hold. Nevertheless, we still enjoy the chase, and revel in its success as we lift muskies from the big Frabill net, snap a quick photo and send Esox back to the depths. How can we enjoy consistent summer musky success, without devoting our entire existence to catching them? For me, modern technology levels the playing field, and puts summer muskies in the boat when I’m not chasing river smallmouth, cleaning the cabin gutters or pulling the kids on the tube. Here are four “tech tips” to help you hoist more warm weather muskies this season.
2. Use your eyes, too. Nothing beats visual confirmation of the new micro-spot that you’ve just identified electronically with your fish finder. One of the most powerful and versatile tools in my fish finding arsenal, for both soft and hard water, is my Aqua-Vu HD 700i underwater camera system. A high-definition perspective on the underwater world, courtesy of Aqua-Vu’s high quality optics, allows me to fish with confidence, knowing that I am indeed targeting the right areas for the right fish. Beyond using the Aqua-Vu camera to probe structure, I frequently rely on the same system to confirm the identities of fish that sonar reveals in these same areas. On many of the lakes I frequent, muskies rely on young panfish and related species for summer forage; visually identifying snack-sized sunnies and crappies with my Aqua-Vu camera tells me that the buffet is set for Esox.1. Pick your spots. First, get away from the shoreline. You’ll encounter more quality summer muskies on mid-lake structure than you will back in the shallow bays where you found them in the early part of the season. I gravitate toward humps and bars out on the main basin, and rely on the wind to help me pick my spots. Prime locations are long bars that run perpendicular to that day’s prevailing wind. Barren sand bars will be, you guessed it, devoid of fish. Rocks for cover are good. Weeds are better. Sprinkle a few big boulders along a weedy bar or concentrated right on its tip, and you’ve got a winner! A modern fish finder equipped with side-scanning sonar technology is your friend here, eliminating dead water and putting you on prime musky spots, faster.
4. Get your Mojo on. Technique-specific rods are all the rage. I admit to having rods in my walleye collection that I only use for rigging, others only for corking, and still others for each of a variety of jig-based presentations. My musky rod collection, however, relies on a “generalist” rather than a host of specialist rods. The rod that I reach for, every time, is my eight-foot Mojo Musky (MM80MHF) from St. Croix Rod. Relying on a generalist rod doesn’t mean that I have to compromise on features or functionality. Whether I’m slow rolling a spinnerbait through the weeds, going over the top of the weeds with a Cowgirl, or riding the waves with a topwater, my Mojo Musky handles each presentation with the precision and toughness that summer muskies demand. The Mojo Musky’s eight-foot length allows me to transition into a figure 8 with ease, and the modest weight of the rod doesn’t leave me fatigued after chasing muskies for the day. A hidden bonus? At eight feet in length, this predator powerhouse still fits in my boat’s rod locker, making it convenient to store in the boat all the time, until the Esox hour arrives. My Mojo Musky is an important, final component of my hi-tech solution to the summer musky puzzle.3. String ’em up. Your line and leader are the most intimate, and most critical, connections linking you to your quarry. Stringing up with that cheap black Dacron line collecting dust on the baitshop’s shelf is a recipe for failure. And that 50’s-era wire leader designed to prevent bite offs by toothy Esox is also a significant health hazard to a hooked fish, slicing into flesh and scraping off protective slime during the fight. Twenty-first century technology, championed by passionate, conservation-minded anglers, provides solutions to both of these problems. First, spool up with a modern main line, like Seaguar Threadlock, a 16-strand braid engineered for amazing tensile and impact strength. A smooth casting line that effortlessly peels off the reel, Seaguar Threadlock features a hollow core, enabling quick attachment to an advanced leader material, like the 100% fluorocarbon Seaguar AbrazX Musky and Pike leader. Advanced by innovators in the musky fishing community, AbrazX Musky and Pike leader is highly abrasion resistant and delivers exceptional tensile and knot strength. While providing successful Musky fishing experiences to the angler, Seaguar Threadlock and AbrazX Musky and Pike leader also have Esox’s welfare in mind, allowing fish to be landed quickly in summer’s heat, and with far fewer leader-induced injuries than ever before.
Summer musky prime time has arrived. This is the time of the season with the musky can truly be an “everyman’s fish”, as for these few weeks, complete devotion to all things Esox is not necessarily required for success. Use these tech tips to level the musky playing field, and be sure to smile for those musky “grip-and-grin” photos that are destined for your desk at work and your social media profile. Those memories will keep the musky flame burning bright until summer returns next year!
About the author
Dr. Jason Halfen owns and operates The Technological Angler, dedicated to teaching anglers to leverage modern technology to find and catch more fish. Let your learning begin at http://www.technologicalangler.com.