6 of Canada’s top muskie hunters share their late-season secrets

EXPERT: Peter Levick

SECRET: Fish bait balls

Peter Levick’s heart skips a beat whenever he spots giant balls of bait on his sonar screen, especially when they’re concentrated around his favourite late-fall muskie haunts. “Baitfish gather in huge schools in the late fall, and they catch the attention of yellow perch, walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike and gar,” says Levick, senior guide with Ottawa River Musky Factory. And if you monitor your sonar carefully, he says, it’s common to see hooks of all shapes and sizes around the schools of bait. “Those fish, in turn, attract muskies.”

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Peter Levick like to cast big paddletails such as the Shadzilla

Levick says if he can establish exactly what the big fish are eating, he can match the hatch with his presentations. “Yellow perch-, bass- and walleye-coloured lures are excellent in late fall,” he says, admitting his preference for throwing big soft-plastic paddletails such as Water Wolf Lures’ Shadzilla and Chaos Tackle’s Posseidon. “Swimbaits not only look like real fish, they produce plenty of vibration that attracts hungry predators. Muskies are particularly sensitive to the pulsation of the thumping tails they pick up through their long lateral lines.”

A past president of Muskies Canada, Levick says to slow down your presentation when you cast around, under and through the schools of bait. In particular, work around the sides and lower boundaries of the baitfish using your sonar as a depth guide. And as the schools of bait slowly move on, reposition the boat along with them. “Remember,” he says, “you’re fishing moving structure.”