Secret strategies for outsmarting late-season ’skis
EXPERT: Andrew Grant
SECRET: Search out sunny rocks
When the late-fall sun shines down on Ontario’s massive Georgian Bay, muskie guide Andrew Grant searches for what he calls “sauna rocks,” boulders and rocks that hold the heat and provide slightly warmer water temperatures than the surrounding deeper, colder water. “Even though a lot of muskies move to deep breaklines in the late fall,” he says, “I find big fish will move up onto shallow rock structures on very sunny, warmer than normal fall days.”
To target the big toothy critters that camp out around the rocks, Grant casts slow-moving jerkbaits. He also rips and twitches large minnowbaits and always selects a lure colour that stands out from the crowd. “I am always fishing areas that have significant numbers of baitfish around them,” he says, “so I pick a lure that’s different from a colour perspective.”
“I am always fishing areas that have significant numbers of baitfish around them”
If he’s trolling an area with broken-up schools of silvery ciscoes, for example, Grant opts for a firetiger or bright perch pattern, which will visibly stand out from the thousands of ciscoes. If he’s fishing an area where perch are plentiful, on the other hand, he goes with a silver or white pattern to make his lure more noticeable.
“On one memorable October day, my father and I landed back-to-back 51-inch and 50-inch muskies within 15 minutes of each other, trolling firetiger crankbaits in an area that had walleye staging outside a rivermouth,” Grant says. “I’m certain our bright baits got noticed because they were distinct from the hundreds of golden-coloured walleye that were frequenting the spot.”