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Pat’s Muskie Academy II

The results of countless hours of teaching and trolling! • Credit: Fish'n Canada
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Pat’s Muskie Academy II

Nik learns the art of trolling for giant muskie on the French River and Lake Nipissing

On this episode of the Fish’n Canada Show, we return to the upper French River with Angelo’s grandson Nik for his second semester of Muskie fishing… let’s call it Muskie 202.

Last time here, Nik learned the art of casting big hardware for Muskie… a daunting task that eventually paid off with his first ever hard-core, big bait Muskellunge.

The scenic trip from the upper French River to Lake Nipissing

On this shoot, Nik again teamed up with Chaudiere guide and Muskie expert Patrick Tryon. Pat is still as intense as ever and is still that ultimate technical angler… perfect as an instructor.

On this “202” course, Nik would learn the art of trolling for these giants… which is probably the number-one tactic for producing Muskie.

It was mid-August, a time when all hell could break loose with the fish going crazy, or it could be lots of time simply burning gas.


Right out of the gate Pat was in full-teaching mode telling Nik about the big glass rods, the difference between spinner baits and inline spinners, the virtues of high-quality deep diving crankbaits, and so on.

hook sharpening
It’s lessons on things like hook sharpening that mold out a fishing machine

Information like this certainly is daunting for a young mind but, even if a little info sticks in, it’s success for the future.

With all the technical aspects now in Nik’s fishing vault, all that was left to do was get to the trolling grounds and cover water… lots of it!


Cover water they did. With miles upon miles, passes upon passes all of course taking up time, the boys worked from the French River and well out and into Lake Nipissing. With all that water being covered, one would surly think a Muskie or two would be taunted into smashing a 5-mph crazy looking underwater object, right? Well, not so… remember, this is Muskie fishing, the fish of 10,000 casts and often 10-plus miles of trolling!

Pat & Nik’s eyes were glued to the Garmin units… well, at least Pat’s were!

The first half of the day ended up all about lessons and no fish in the boat. That’s usually a good thing as it allows time for a student to absorb the insane quantity of information and as well, builds a sense of great anticipation once that first strike finally occurs.

The second half of the day was pretty much about Nik saying “enough with this talking” and then getting valuable nap time during the now-tedious pass after pass trolling.

Good ol’ Nik sure done-did catch up on his sleep on this shoot!


As good luck would have it, and to make a long day in the boat story shorter, Nik did get his first trolling Muskie, a gorgeous Nipissing fish.

How’d they catch it?

Pat resorted to one of the oldest Muskie guide’s tricks in the book, he pulled out the good ol’ Believer. When all else fails, most experienced trollers will tell you that the Believer is the ultimate game changer.

One of the problems with trolling big, deep cranks are you don’t know what you’ll get. In this case, it was a worm harness.

Again, congratulations to Nik for his ever-building Muskie bucket list completions, a again another special thanks to Pat for being the ultimate teacher/guide.

The good ol’ tried & true 13” Believer for when all else fails


The city of North Bay is not that far away from Chaudiere Lodge. It can be visited by boat, but you better have the right weather, because Nipissing can get deadly at times. You’re better off to drive there.


  • The French River is in Northeastern Ontario, Canada.
  • It flows 110 km from Lake Nipissing west to Georgian Bay.
  • The French River was designated a Canadian Heritage River in 1986.
  • It was used as a transportation corridor by the Algonquin people.
  • The Ojibwe named this the "French River" because it became associated with French explorers of the 17th century, including Étienne Brûlé, Samuel de Champlain, and Pierre-Esprit Radisson.
  • The French, Ottawa, and Mattawa Rivers formed part of the water. highway from Montreal to Lake Superior in the days of the fur trade.
  • It remained a canoe route until about 1820.
  • Around 1855 access was available via a railroad.
  • The French River was designated a Canadian Heritage River in 1985.

Following bouts of overfishing, in the 1994 the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources placed a slot limit on fishing to protect prime breeding year classes and increase the trophy fish population in the French. (Wikipedia)

This slot seems to be working as of this writing, thank you MNRF!


Lake Nipissing has a surface area of 873.3 km², a mean elevation of 196 m above sea level, and is located between the Ottawa River and Georgian Bay. Lake Nipissing is the third-largest lake entirely in Ontario. (Wikipedia)

Area: 873.3 km²

Catchment area: 12,300 km²

Surface elevation: 196 m

Max. depth: 64 m (210 ft)

There are Large and Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Muskie as a sportfish list as well as the popular panfish, catfish, sheephead, and more all in the waters of Lake Nipissing.

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