In order to catch late-season trophy fish, I also believe you have to cast and troll much bigger baits. That’s especially so when I’m fishing for muskies and pike.
Separated by the thermocline in the summer from the most plentiful and preferred forage in the lake—ciscoes, whitefish and even lake trout—these big toothy critters finally cross paths with their favourite food in the fall. Then it’s lights-out crazy action.
What happens is that the muskies and pike hop onto the escalator going down to the 18- to 25-foot range, where the conditions are stable. At the very same time, ciscoes, whitefish and lake trout will ride the escalator up to the same level to stage during the day and lay eggs at night on hard-bottomed structures, such as underwater points, rock piles and shoals. It’s Mother Nature’s way of providing an incredible, one-time seasonal burst of protein for the big pike and muskies as they store energy to get through the coming winter.
Both predator and prey remain faithful to these fall locations for life. So, if you catch big muskies or pike on a specific structure or location in the fall, you can be sure to find them there again the next fall. The same goes if you see ciscoes, whitefish or lake trout spawning on a particular location—you can be assured that some of the biggest muskies and pike in the lake are roaming the outskirts and terrorizing the neighbourhood.
BONUS TIP: COLOUR MATCHING
Cast or troll any colour of lure or bait in the fall for big toothy critters, so long as its primary hue is white, silver or gold. Those are the turn-on tints that best resemble ciscoes, whitefish and lake trout.