It is that time of the year again, when anglers who chase big toothy critters walk around with perpetual smiles on their faces.
The muskie season is opening up across the country, as we speak, and anglers who are fishing for trophy pike are enjoying one of the seasonal peaks. But big toothy critters come with some equally big baggage – especially if you like catching the fish on surface lures, which is my all time favourite way to do it.
The problem begins when you suddenly spot the Jaws-like wall of water boiling behind your bait. It is totally unnerving, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Plus, topwater lures are the most difficult baits with which to fool a big follower on a “figure-eight”.
Compounding the matter even more is that what appears to make the most sense, is typically the worse thing you can do. And that is to slow down and make it easier for the fish when you see it bird dogging your bait.
I know it is the logical reaction, but it also the quickest way to ensure that a giant muskie or northern pike quickly loses interest and slinks away.
Another mistake many anglers make when they fish with surface baits is that they watch their lure – which is mesmerizing – instead of looking below and behind it.
With muskies and pike, you always want to spot the followers as early into your retrieve as possible, so that you can start lowering your rod tip as the lure and fish approach the boat, bend over and even drop down onto your knees and start tracing out a figure-eight.
All in one fluid motion.
In fact, a figure-eight is a bit of misnomer because I’ve found over the years that making wide, sweeping oval motions or circles with my rod tip is far more effective.
If you do prefer tracing out a figure eight, however, just remember not to cut the corners too tightly, which makes it much more difficult for a big fish to twist and turn its body.
Oh, yes, and always increase the speed as you weave each bend. It is a guaranteed, big fish turn on, which is the subject of this week’s Fish Talk With The Doc that I recorded for the Fish ‘N Canada television Show.