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Do Your Muskie Homework

Jim Saric with a trophy musky caught as a result of spending time doing winter research. • Credit: Jim Saric
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Do Your Muskie Homework

How to plan your Ontario muskie fishing trip during the winter months



Although it could be winter and the Canadian muskie waters are frozen and the season won't be open for several months, now is the time to catch one. I am not talking about travelling to a southern muskie location but doing our homework and planning now to ensure your best chance at catching a trophy muskie this summer. Believe me, I fish for a living and much of my success revolves around doing some winter research and detective work.

Where To Start

It all starts with the Internet. I am sure you have some ideas for a dream muskie destination. You can check out the spots on the Destination Ontario website. Also, check out the various muskie fishing message boards such as those at muskyhunter.com or muskiefirst.com. These are great places to try and find muskie photos and locate a few bodies of water that may spark your interest!

Trip planning

Once you have decided upon a body of water or two as a potential muskie target, there are questions about where to stay and when to go! If you can vacation any time during summer or fall, you should go when the bite is the best. For many of us, vacation time may be limited due to work or family obligations. So, you need to fit the best water with your vacation schedule. I bring up this point because most of the trophy waters throughout Ontario have a few-week span in both summer and fall that typically results in more big muskies holding shallower and being more catchable. This is where the detective work begins. You need to be on trophy water at the right time, or you could be wasting your time.

For example, if your vacation time is mid-July you need to find muskie water that peaks in mid-July. If you go to water that peaks in mid-August, it might seem like there are no muskies in the lake! So, when you check out the various resorts and lodges and view the pictures of big muskies pay close attention to the date of the catch. You'll notice that on particular water over a several-year period there will consistently be photos of big muskies caught during a two-week period. This is when you want to plan your trip to that water. If this timing coincides with your vacation time, you are set. If this timing doesn't fit your vacation schedule, you should pick another destination that's a better fit.

Where to Stay

Now that you have the water and timing set, it's time to book a resort. Not only check out the resort's website but call them and find out about various amenities that fit your needs. If they are at a sport show, go give them a visit. If you are bringing your own boat be sure there is a good dock and electricity at the dock to charge your electric motor batteries.

Also, ask about muskies and see if they have guides or frequent guests you might be able to contact for musky information. Many guides and resort guests don't mind sharing musky information during the winter months. This is a great time to get information on the types of spots, cover and lures that may be productive. Plus, if it's a guide you might want to book a date during your stay. Guides are great for learning the types of spots that hold muskies and can be invaluable, particularly if this is your first time on the water. Make sure to purchase a map of the lake and start examining spots. You might have been able to convince someone to mark a few spots. It's amazing how a visit to a sport show can produce more information.

Get Advice From Other Musky Hunters

Once you have a feel for what to expect based upon your discussion with the guides, resort owners, etc. now go check back and again check the various muskie fishing message boards and see what you can find regarding photos, hot baits, spots, etc. It's amazing how you can get more specific details regarding lure colours, and even the types of spots to fish under various conditions.

Also, check out Youtube and Facebook. You might find videos filmed on those waters and learn something about lures or even the types of spots.

Think about it, even though the lakes are frozen you have managed to find a hot musky lake, learn about the water, spots, and lures and even get a few spots marked on your new map. Plus throughout all of this, you have established a great relationship with a resort owner and purchased some of the lures you will need.

By the time your trip comes you will be way ahead and have a game plan and milk route of spots to fish. You'll be able to approach the water with confidence. It's a winning approach for any successful musky hunter, and the best way to ensure you'll catch a big musky now!

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