Conventional muskie wisdom says to cast over shoals and around islands and reefs, with one angler throwing a bucktail and the other a topwater lure. Dave says he tried that in the early years, but now he seldom, if ever, casts to find muskies. Instead, he trolls 90 per cent of the time—over our three days, we didn’t make so much as a single cast, except to begin our trolling runs.
Dave also tried planer boards, but found them to be a hassle. He finally settled on trolling big crankbaits straight out behind the boat. “I’ve come to believe that boats don’t bother muskies,” he says. “I troll with my lure just one long cast behind the boat. The lure control you have on a short line is far more beneficial than trolling 100 metres back because you’re afraid of spooking fish.”
In steep-walled lakes like his muskie lake, Dave advises trolling in 30 to 35 feet of water with the lure down anywhere from 12 to 18 feet. Occasionally, he’ll swing the boat in as shallow as 15 feet and let the lure bump the bottom. If he likes the look of the area, or gets a hit, he’ll make four or five additional passes before moving to a new location.
Personally, I find trolling to be more enjoyable than casting all day. Plus, it’s much easier, and you get to see more of the lake and the local wildlife. Trolling is also more efficient for finding actively feeding fish, as well as secondary hot spots you’d likely otherwise not stop to cast to.