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Spring Fling…are you ready?
By Don Leaser (4-29-14)

Spring has at last, bestowed its much needed presence upon us. That means, for all of you hard core anglers, its open water time. The winter was long and cold. Besides shoveling snow and paying the heat bill, how did you spend your time? Personally, I spent the down time of winter getting ready for this season.

Okay, let’s do some math, let’s say you wen 50 baits. (No musky guys I know have only 50 baits!) Anyway, three trebles, x three hooks equal nine points to sharpen. So you have sharpened hundreds, if not thousands of hooks over the past winter. Your reels are all serviced, they are filled with the latest and greatest high tech line, and you had those guides repaired on your favorite rod. You have spent hours, and perhaps hundreds of dollars at the various fishing shows, and, of course the easy way, by ordering on line buying new and replacing some old favorite baits. I bought and sold over $400 of baits over the winter. EBay rules. Its great getting a package in the mail, in the dead of winter, knowing its new bait. That’s just me though.

Then there is the rig, your boat. It’s out of storage, and there are many things to consider for the new season. There is a whole check list of things to do to be prepared for the season: lower unit serviced, bearings greased, tires checked, lights repaired or replaced, install the electronics, the trolling motor, batteries.

I like to be water ready at least 3 weeks before the season. I take my rig out for a brief run as soon as is get out of storage. Test the lights, the locators and trolling motor. If any bugs show up, now is the time to find out, not on opening weekend. Do an inventory of the tools and equipment, this is mandatory for all musky anglers and, most anyone who fishes in a boat; release tools, a first aid kit, (I needed one last year as I got my buddy with a Strike King Midnight Special through the arm, my bad) life vests, headlamps for night fishing, bug spray, etc.

Once you have all the prep work done and you’re ready, all you need to do is get out of bed, drink some hot coffee, hook the trailer to the truck and go. Your rods and reels are fine tuned. The boat is water ready. The plans are made. Unfortunately, where I live and many of you too, the weather plays a major factor in the best of plans. Late, cold, rainy springs are non-conducive to my second favorite pastime, and to be honest, it’s a very close second. Even if you are totally prepared, Mother Nature can still throw a Matt Garza curve ball at you this time of year. So, in turn, have a positive mental attitude, dress warm, and you’ll be as ready as you will ever be for another great fishing season.

The Winter Blues?
By Don Leaser
1-13-13

So the boat is winterized, your poles are in the basement or in the “fishing room”. (You have one, you just don’t realize it. Ask your wife, she knows.) There are several inches of snow on the ground, and it’s cold outside. Now what?

Do real musky fisherman stop hunting musky when the winter blues come around? Hardly. This, to contrary belief, is a 365 day sport. The new fishing shows on television have started, and you can always find a musky expo somewhere, Chicago, Milwaukee, there are several. The Internet is always a place to musky hunt in the winter, literally, millions if pages of musky information. You have baits to repair, or to make. The guides on your poles are bent, your reels need new line, and need cleaning. It never ends. And of course, there are the magazines, you know the ones. The true musky hunter is obsessed. The next new bait, or terminal tackle or the newest electronics, and we all have thousands of hooks to sharpen. It never ends.

So the winter blues, not so bad. Perhaps a time to reflect on last seasons catches, or the hot follow and what you could have done to improve your odds of a hook up. A time to plan new adventures, on new waters, or get your lake maps out and find a new fish holding spot. Before you know it, it is opening day.

“Get the Net”

 

By Don Leaser

Fall Musky Fishing – 9/26/12 

     Mother Nature. Who is she? And why am I opening this article, with a Mother Nature reference in the first sentence? For the regular followers of “Get the Net”, and you know who you are, you understand where this long, overdue article is going. This particular time of year is a favorite time of mine, as well as many of my musky hunter friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and a few select bait shops.

 

    So what role does Mother Nature play, this time of year in reference to musky fishing? (For our first time readers, esox masquinogy is a top freshwater predator that I pursue.) The answer is everything. Mother Nature dictates when the fall musky hunt begins. Musky anglers look forward to this time of year, and I am no exception.

 

   When the cold Canadian, northwest winds begin to howl, with what seems to be a daily occurrence of cold fronts, and your favorite musky waters begin to cool from the summer’s heat, Mother Nature is telling the muskies that it is time to put the feed bag on. The big females begin eating and putting on the pounds for the long, slow, cold water winter, and of course, to prepare for the spring spawn. This is what gets the real musky hunter excited.

 

   Mother Nature has dictated that the seasons must change. She has also dictated that the female esox masquinogy will gain several pounds in the next 2 months, and that is when we love to pursue these top of the food chain predators. Another reason Mother Nature plays a big role this time of year, in favor of the pursuers of the esox masquinogy I may add, is the lack of pleasure boaters, jet skiers, and pontoon boats. They all go away for the season, and the lakes are ours.

 

    Mother Nature will dictate that you dress in layers when in your boat chasing big fat “ski’s”. Mother nature dictates water temperature; she also controls cold fronts, wind, rain, and snow. However if  your passion is to catch a trophy musky, check with mother nature, she will let you know what to do. 

Get The Net 

6-19-12

Presentation Is Everything

By Don Leaser 

What does that mean? Presentation is everything? Where in life do we practice our “presentation”. I think on a daily basis if you think about it. Yet, when we present bait to a fish, and for all of our new readers on andforwhat. com, and we appreciate it, my reference to fish equates to Esox masquinongy –  species – Muskellunge.. 

We present a bait, weather it is a double 10, a deep crank bait, or a surface bait and all we want is the fish (Esox masquinongy) to smash our bait, and they do, maybe 1%, of the time, and that’s generous. Why do they take the bait on that 1%? Did you present the bait properly? You must have, the fish ate it right? You just cast that same area 50 times and nothing. Why this cast?

Muskellunge are predators. They are on top of the food chain; they eat what they want, and when they want. They lurk, waiting for a morsel to swim by and take it. They hide, and when that perch least expects it, gone! The perch (RIP) presented its self. So when you’re in your boat chucking baits, think how you present. 

Are you parallel with a deep weed line and throwing your baits parallel to the weed line with a long cast? A long cast, parallel to the deep weed line, may be the best presentation at that time. Your bait certainly stays in the strike zone longer, and Esox does cruise there,  so there’s good chance of hooking up.  Yeah, maybe.  

Depending on conditions, water temps, time of year, each presentation may be different. The point is, anyone can throw bait and retrieve it. It’s how you present it. If  it’s fall and you have 60 degree water temperatures, you’re not going to be burning buck tails. Your may slow roll it as colder temps are non conducive to Esox chasing a burning Cowgirl.  It stays in the strike zone much longer, the fish can seek it out, and you know it will not be a “reaction strike”. But that’s another topic, for another time. Presentation is everything. 

Get the Net
Esox masquinongy
 

Deep or Shallow in Early Season? (5-15-12)

When you think about early season muskies, what are the first few thoughts that come to mind? I bet many of you thought shallow water, warm water, cover and baitfish. Those are all correct answers. Shallow water warms the fastest, usually has remnant cover or newly emergent cover and therefore is a secure area for baitfish. Therefore, it is a natural area to hold early season muskies. And it is. One of the first key areas to check in early season is shallow bays, and shallow channels. Another thing I have learned about these areas is not to get too precise. The muskies can be roaming anywhere on these large flats, bays or channels. So you are better off systematically drifting these areas. You’ll find pockets of weed growth, maybe a subtle depth depression or rise, or just maybe a spot holding a pack of muskies. In either case, mark the spot with your GPS and work it thoroughly. Try different casting angles and different lures. Those fish won’t move far, they just will feed at infrequent times throughout the day. So, the angler that camps on these spots most of the day is often rewarded.
Having just told you the merits of shallow muskies in early season, than why are so many muskies also caught suspended over open-water during the same time? Again, muskies are individuals. Also, some muskies once they finish spawning quickly return to the security of the basin, as the shallow cover isn’t as developed at this time. So, the open water basin is a natural safe-haven for muskies. Of course, don’t forget that suspended forage exists in many waters, so the muskies don’t need to feed on shallow water forage, particular when there is an abundance of open-water forage such as ciscoes or shad. Don’t forget that you can also concentrate on the basins in early season and catch muskies. Try and locate muskies suspended a couple casts from the largest structural element or potential spawning area. Also, use your electronics to locate large schools of bait. At this time the bait is shallow and so are the muskies. So, using lures that run in the top 10 feet of the water column are usually best.
When your start the day, remember the muskies may be in the shallow bays or channels, but they may be equally suspended. So, make an educated guess. I’ll base my decision on the weather the evening before and that morning. Cold nights and cold mornings will have me focusing on the basin as those muskies tend to be less affected by the drop in surface temperatures associated with cool nights and mornings. If the basins aren’t working, I’ll check the channels later that morning or early afternoon when the surface temperatures start to rise. On the contrary, if the morning is warm and possibly overcast, I’ll check the shallows as those fish could be going crazy from the start. One thing is for sure; if there is a group of musky anglers in the same area and no one is catching anything in an hour or so, it’s time to leave. Keep your options open, checking both the shallow water and surrounding basins, and you’ll stay on the muskies all spring.

 

 

The 2012 open water season is fast coming upon us. For us who have been watching fishing shows, reading magazines, buying baits that we don’t need, and attending numerous fishing shows and expos, the time to test the new baits is finally here. However, with our unseasonably warm, March madness fluctuating water temps, the fish, of all species, will be, much like Ron Roenicke will be, after about the third home stand, confused. You’ve seen the look. Confused, because almost everything a fish does, is related to water temps. Eat, drink, swim, spawn. Do fish drink? Fish only do three things, eat, swim, and make little fish. Sounds like a perfect life.

 
The first Saturday in May starts the Wisconsin inland lakes fishing season. You will probably find me chucking 5 ounce baits on Lake Monona in the back of my number one net man’s boat (a number one net man is imperitive,and mine has never missed) waiting for the Wisconsin state fish, the elusive Musky to strike my over priced 5 ounce bait. Cast after cast, with an occasional fish following my over priced bait to the boat, just to give me the pectoral fin, and swim away. Pretty typical. I have learned to use profanity proficiently while musky fishing over the years, as the biggest, meanest fish in fresh water eats what, and when it wants, with no rhyme or reason, and most times it is not my over priced 5 ounce bait. Fish of 10,000 casts? No, I don’t think so.
 
So, do what I do, take every bait you have with you. For most dedicated musky guys, we have enough money invested in our tools of the trade to finance a small third world country. Yes, that is what I said, hundreds of dollars of baits. How many do you need? How many is enough? Every bait is different, in size color, vibration, no vibration, rattles, no rattles, soft baits, hard baits, surface baits, crank baits, glide baits and so on.
 
Next time we will discuss some of the baits, and why we tie them to the end of our 150 yard, $25 spool of high tech line, and stand in a boat for 8 hours, sometimes longer, and cast them over, and over and over again. As previously mentioned, I have learned to use profanity proficiently.
 
Get the Net.