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Soaring Like an Eagle for Muskies

Eagle Lake muskie guide Mike Grant uses precise boat control and instructs his guests on how to “figure-eight” fish like this at boat side. • Credit: Gord Pyzer
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Soaring Like an Eagle for Muskies

Where to find muskie fisheries in Ontario

If you're a muskie angler wanting to soar like an eagle, this is the year to do it across Northern Ontario, where for some strange and inexplicable reason the muskie fishing is on fire.

How hot is it, you ask?

Well, Kenora buddy John Monteith, who runs Fish Hunter's Guide Service on Lake of the Woods and who, ironically, doesn't focus on muskies can't keep the big toothy critters off the ends of his guests' lines when they are fishing for walleye and bass.

"I recently had a string of five consecutive days," Monteith recalls, "when my guests accidentally hooked a big muskie in the 50-inch plus class. Talk about thrilling experiences."

It is a buzz that 15-year-old Winnipeg, Manitoba angler Cole Trudeau knows well. Cole was fishing the Kenora Walleye Classic recently when he felt a bump on the end of his line and set the hook into what he thought was a prize-winning walleye, only to discover he was firmly attached to the biggest fish of his life – a magnificent trophy muskie that he quickly landed and carefully released.

Fifteen-year-old Winnipeg, Manitoba angler Cole Trudeau is all smiles after catching this magnificent muskie while fishing in the Kenora Walleye Classic on Lake of the Woods. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Now, it is a well-known fact that Ontario offers the finest marquee muskie fisheries on the planet, with names like Lake of the Woods, Manitou Lake, Eagle Lake, Wabigoon Lake, Lac Seul, Lake Nipissing, Lake Nosbonsing, Georgian Bay, Lake St. Clair and the entire chain of Kawartha Lakes, not to mention the St. Lawrence, Ottawa, and Winnipeg River systems. But even by Northern Ontario standards the muskie fishing this season is off the charts.

"If you don't hook two to five muskies a day, you are fishing the wrong stuff," says Mike Grant who guides on Eagle Lake, near Dryden, Ontario and co-invented the slick new EZ Cam Post for securely mounting your action camera inside the boat to record all the action. "I have seen plenty of 50-inch plus muskies this season and have raised one particular giant more than a dozen times. She likes hanging out on a certain reef, and I am sure I am going to have more chances to catch her. And when I do, she is going to shock the musky world."

"It has definitely been a great season," echoes legendary Vermilion Bay, Ontario guide, John Jakobs.

"In a couple of nearby lakes, I've seen more muskies than ever. I am talking about 30 fish a day on mudflats and in the weed beds. They're chasing the walleye and pike that my guests are hooking."

The muskie/walleye connection that so many Northern Ontario anglers are noticing this season has many of the guides reflecting on the raison d'être.

"I think the reason so many anglers are catching big muskies while walleye fishing this season," says Grant, "is because the big females were already feeding in deeper water when the season opened. The ice left the lakes up here earlier than usual this spring and it has been much warmer this summer. I think the majority of muskies had spawned when the season opened and was already keying in on the bigger forage items. Wherever I've found big schools of bass and walleye, I've found a big toothy predator hunting them."

Legendary Vermilion Bay guide, John Jakobs, has been seeing as many as 30 muskies a day this season, guiding his guests to magnificent trophies like this beauty. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

As for the hot baits, Jakobs says that muskie-size spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and stick baits have produced consistent action since the season opened in late June and continue to score well. And with the lush weed growth now peaking, topwater baits are also heating up.

"When I find the fish favouring rock piles," Jakobs notes, "big spinnerbaits and crankbaits seem to draw them off the rocks. For deeper fish, I've been relying on Bondy Baits, Bulldawgs, Medusas and big tubes."

Grant, on the other hand, has scored particularly well this year casting #8 and #9 double-bladed Cowgirl-style bucktails.

"The Dadson blade baits have been unreal," says Grant, who also notes that he has been sticking followers tossing back soft plastics. "My favourite right now is the 14 inch Red October 'Big Sexy' tube bait. It has already produced more than a dozen hefty fish. When I get tired of throwing the big baits, I change up and use a walk-the-dog-style topwater presentation. It is a major rush for anyone who has never landed a giant muskie to twitch a topwater lure and hook a big fish. It feels so good tricking them with the technique."

As good as the fishing has been this season, however, Grant and Jacobs note that in order to nab multiple muskies on a consistent basis you need to have pinpoint boat control, to cast accurately to the sweet spot on every piece of structure and cover, and to be able to employ a smooth figure-eight at the side of the boat to catch the followers.

Oh, yes, and it never hurts to have a good local guide like Mike Grant or John Jacobs.

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