Hi AMFisHers! This blog post is the full story of my recent two day 2017 musky opener fishing trip.
The trip started Saturday June 3rd as that is when musky season officially opened in the area I decided to fish. This is a lake I have fished for many years now and have caught some muskies here in the past. I know the lake very well and know a lot of great musky spots, but my biggest challenge this season was musky fishing out of a kayak.
Musky fishing is already a challenge in itself, strong heavy gear is needed along with big heavy baits, so fishing for musky from a boat is already draining enough and I was very prepared for how draining it would be from a kayak, but determination could not hold me back!
I arrived at the lake around noon as my plan for the first day of fishing was to stay out on the lake well into the late evening as I wanted to experience and get more familiar with fishing for muskies at night. I got all my gear ready and the weather was in full cooperation as it was a warm day with lot’s of sunshine, only immediate problem I realized was the water temperature was still quite cold. The weather in this area had not been hot enough over several days so with the cooler temps I immediately knew I would have to revisit my strategies that were in place in order to try and catch some muskies.
As I headed out to my first spot that was a big weedy bay not far from shore that leads into some deeper water, I was going to stick with my strategy for a short while to see if I needed to rethink things as I kind of knew I would. My presentation was to use 6 to 7 inch bucktails in bright colors due to the very sunny day. I started casting right up over the weedy area, as the weeds were submerged and the presentation was to burn these bucktails back quickly to trigger any active fish strikes. About 20 casts in with no action I decided to slow the speed of my retrieve down slightly as I mentioned the water was still quite cool for early June so it made sense to slow my bait retrieve down. After another 20 casts in this same bay with 4 different bucktails there was still no musky action or even any sign of any fish being interested.
I switched from bucktails to some mid size minnow style crankbaits, then some mid size soft plastic musky baits and lastly some top water pro style baits. The result on my first spot was the same with all the baits I used, no fish in sight no fish interested in what I had to offer. The weather was not ideal as muskies prefer warmer water in the early months during and after their spawn is complete, but a sunny hot day and water that was still cold made me quickly revisit my approach and instantly start considering much slower bait presentations, so I was actually approaching it like I was fishing in late fall.
I hit my second spot which is a decent size rock shoal a few hundreds yards straight out from the main dock area. This spot is ideal for muskies, large somewhat shallow rocky sandy flats with many scattered weedy patches that are surrounded by deep water escapes and even thick weed cover deeper water as well, the best of everything. I started off with my original approach for several casts and actually got a solid hit as soon as my bucktail with the water. It felt like a good hit from a decent size fish but I knew it was not a musky and was pretty confident it was a nice big smallmouth bass that was hanging around the rock shoal. Low and behold the battle was on, this very chunky smallmouth was jumping everywhere trying to get off the hooks!
Needless to say during both these smallmouth bass fights the fish got the best of me this day, as they jumped and bounced off the kayak as I was was pulling them into the cradle I had secured on the side of my kayak. After wrapping up at this spot I paddled over to my third spot which was the largest one I had easy access to and holds muskies. Again it a large flat with various weed edges in that 5 to 10ft depth range and has access to deeper water and shallower water. I started off with top water, then went to my shallower running crankbait, then back to bucktails and finally a medium size soft plastic musky bait. At this spot I must have made over 12,977 casts and figure eights, talk about grueling work! Unfortunately again there were no musky sittings in the area, nor any kind of fish activity at all, so the pattern of this many casts with several baits and not fish brought me back to the fact that the fish had really turned off being active and it was going to take even more than a slower fall presentation to hook into any.
Day one ended with me continuing to fish right up until around 10pm, but I fished the two first spots again and again as they were much closer to shore so safety had to be first. Once day one ended I went back to the main dock, loaded all my gear and kayak and decided to try some casting from shore to see if any big ones were cruising the shallows at night. Worked the same group of bait presentations I had been working all day, not one bite not one breach not one fish anywhere to be found. After a few more chats with fellow musky anglers they too mentioned a few smaller musky run in’s but no landed fish, so I decided to call it a day as the bugs by this time were out in full force.
I crashed for the night as a typical angler would do, in my JEEP and enjoyed a very not so good sleep, when I actually thought it would not be too bad to sleep in but those JEEP seats are not comfy at all! Got up early Sunday morning grabbed some breakfast and a coffee from Tim’s and headed back to the dock which was only 7 minutes away. Note to anyone thinking of sleeping in there vehicle overnight during a fishing trip, make sure to make yourself as secure as possible, which is why I decided to crash at a Tim Horton’s because it was an all night open location with a lot of car and people traffic, cameras and lights, seemed like the safest place to crash. Also make sure to have a very bright luminous flashlight handy, as it can make for a great self defense item, by utilizing the intense brightness to blind the eyes of anyone either trying to get into your vehicle or trying to harm you.
Once I got to the lake it was absolutely the most stunning view I had seen in many months! The lake was completely motionless and resembled a large piece of glass, not a wave or any water movement in sight. While getting things prepped and assessing if the rain they called for was going to actually happen, I knew that water this still would not make for good musky fishing. While enjoying my coffee and breakfast there was zero and I mean zero water activity by anything. No bugs moving on the surface not birds feeding and no fish breaches, all things you do not want to see not taking place.
A few other anglers that were there for their second day of fishing walked over and we engaged in a lengthy conversation about if we any of us were actually going to fish that day. Since I had mad the 2 plus hour drive up to this lake from Toronto and was in no rush to get home, I spoke with a few guys a long while longer to see if any changes would start happening to the lake. After some time had passed a slight wind picked up and the water started to move, this was a good sign but it needed to last in order for the fishing to start picking up. The wind stayed steady and the few of us were about to get out on the water in the next few minutes, when it clouded over even more and the rain moved in.
I jumped into my truck to observe what was going to happen next, as rain usually stirs up the lake and fish start to feed. Low and behold nothing was happening, the wind got stronger the rain less intense and there was once again zero fish activity, no surface breaches which is usually the norm once it starts to rain. I decided to wait a while longer as it was still quite early and cool that morning. A couple of boats headed out anyway and I used this time to rethink about what my strategy was going to be if I got out on the water.
After a short while it was still raining but quite lightly, so I decided to shore fish again with some top water musky baits, to see if anything was going on. When I say zero attention to my baits I mean a big fat “0”, nothing was anywhere, no roaming fish not feeding fish. From here I tried a few more musky baits with no success and decided to downsize dramatically to see if any other species might be feeding. Started using smaller size inline spinners and again no fish action of any kind. After an hour or so of experimenting I could see the two boats heading back towards the dock, with their heads shaking side to side as they had not had any luck. The second boat was heading to the other side of the lake and also gave me the we saw no fish look as well, this was when I knew battling the lake in that wind with my kayak with a hope that fish would start to feed was completely off the table at this point.
I continued to walk around the immediate shoreline casting various size baits with no success at all and the decision to pack it all in and head home seemed fitting right about then. All in all it was a very tiring musky opener with a lot learned on my end even though I did not catch any fish, I was going home with a new appreciation for musky fishing as well as very sore muscles.
The fish of 10,000 casts definitely beat all the anglers that weekend and that is how things go sometimes, we do everything we can and still come up empty handed when it comes to catching fish, but the learning’s are the most valuable takeaway for any angler who stuck it through as long as they could.
Hope you enjoyed this musky story…tight lines!
The AMFisH guy…
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