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Three Keys to Ontario Muskies

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Three Keys to Ontario Muskies

Scott Siler owner of Lunge Lodge and John Cowan display a giant musky caught from a small Island in the French River. • Credit: Jim Saric

Where to Find the Big Muskies in Ontario Waters



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Ontario is the dream destination for all musky hunters, simply because there are more big muskies. Specifically, you can find more big muskies in shallow water, which makes them easier to locate when casting. Also, Ontario waters are much larger than most US waters, and bigger waters tend to grow bigger fish!

Larger waters with more big muskies in shallow water equates to more opportunities, and it increases your odds for success. Of course, now add the pristine beauty of Ontario, with fewer anglers, and you have the makings of an incredible experience.

I just can’t wait for summer! Although many Ontario waters have lots of trophy muskies, that doesn’t mean they are easy to catch. You still have to put in a lot of effort, which means long days casting large lures. However, if you have a game plan and fish the following three key areas, you’ll locate and catch muskies anywhere throughout Ontario.

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Legendary Canadian musky guide and owner of Sandy’s Blackhawk Camp on Lake of the Woods with a typical musky from the back of small bay.

Bays

Almost every Ontario lake has lots of shallow bays. Some are large and some are small. As a general rule, I prefer to fish smaller bays simply because they take less time to fish and have fewer places for muskies to hide. I don’t like to spend more than 20 minutes fishing a spot, so you can use that as a rule to determine how large of a bay to attack. Also, all bays are not created equal. Some bays have weeds, others have sand with a few trees, and other bays are strewn with boulders. 

Try to fish bays with different types of cover. It could be that on a particular day the bays with trees are best, but other days it could be weedy bays that are holding active muskies. One thing is certain: I believe the best bays are those that are protected from the wind. This allows the surface temperature to increase compared to the surrounding waters and tends to make muskies more active. 

When fishing bays I use bucktails, minnowbaits, and topwater lures. You’re usually making large casts over weeds or towards shallow cover. It’s amazing how shallow the muskies might be, so if a bay doesn't have weeds, go all the way to the back. Finally, make sure you start fishing the point at the mouth of the bay; work your way to the back and fish your way out. 

ISLANDS

Some Ontario waters literally have hundreds of islands, and in many cases the majority of them may hold muskies. Once again, to keep the odds in your favor, focus on smaller islands. Use the 20-minute rule as a guide to how long it should take you to fish a smaller island. Small islands often have a small weed patch, a couple points and maybe even a few fallen trees. These smaller islands, particularly if they are adjacent to deeper water or a large open-water basin, are natural stopping points for muskies and can easily hold multiple fish. I can’t begin to count the number of muskies I have caught from small islands while filming The Musky Hunter Television Show.

Lure choice is the same as that when fishing shallow bays, which includes bucktails, minnowbaits, and topwater. Finally, look for clusters of islands so when the muskies start biting, you’ll spend less time traveling and more time fishing. That usually results in multiple muskies in a short time.

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Jim Saric with a musky taken from a shallow reef.  Don’t be afraid to cast to the top.

Reefs

I love shallow, rocky reefs, as long as I don’t hit them with my Mercury Outboard! Red, green, or black/yellow navigational buoys usually mark shallow reefs. Sometimes they are only marked with a jug. Keep an eye out for them, because at times they are musky magnets. It amazes me how shallow the muskies can hold on such reefs. In fact, I always make it a point to cast to the top of the reef. 

Warm, overcast, and calm days are great times to fish reefs, and then again any time you have a stable wind can stack muskies to the upwind side of the reef. I prefer reefs with large, broken boulders or a patch of weeds on top. Also, several fingers or projections from the reef give it more character and can hold multiple muskies. Like islands, circle the reef casting towards the top. Although the muskies are often on top of the reef, sometimes holding the boat away from the reef and casting a crankbait along the edges can be effective.

Musky fishing in Ontario is incredible, and there are many great looking musky spots. Just remember to focus on smaller bays, islands, and reefs to put the odds in your favor. Musky fishing is a game of percentages, and fishing these key spots in Ontario will give you the best chance at musky success.

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