Musky America Magazine January 2023 Edition Thank you for visiting Musky America Magazine! The off-season is here and with it comes the 2023 Musky shows. This edition has some things for you to consider as you put together that 2023 wish list of Musky lures and tackle. Did you have a 2022 Musky adventure? Share that adventure and write an article! Each day of the Musky season, anglers experience encounters on the water that can provide insights for all of us Musky anglers. We are offering $10.00 for your article. For information about submitting articles for inclusion in Musky America Magazine, please CLICK HERE! Craig Sandell Owner and Fellow Musky Angler The Icons shown here are at the bottom of the Magazine pages. *All Rights Preserved©*
Keeping That Musky Boat Dry Craig Sandell©2019 Every new season we drag our boat out of storage and find out that things can go bad by just sitting there over the winter. Whether it is your batteries, your trolling motor or some of the little things, they all amount to a big pain in the butt when you are trying to get back on the water. Among the last thing that gets an opportunity to disappoint you is your bilge pump. You usually find out after the first good rain when you go down to the dock and find your boat looking like the shallow end of a swimming pool. I don’t know why a pump, that was perfectly good last season has lapsed into non-activity, but is happens. When it comes to bilge pumps, I subscribe to the philosophy that encourages us to keep it simple. In an effort to follow that philosophy, I chose the ‘Rule Fully Automatic Bilge Pump’. I have tried to do the bilge pump and separate water level sensor and it usually turns into a wiring ordeal requiring extra wire crimps.
The Rule automatic bilge pump has only two wires to worry about. You don’t need to connect to a "power on switch" since power is only applied to the bilge motor when the water level rises high on the pump. Aside from easy hookup, mounting is also very easy. The blue debris cage mounts easily with two or four short wood screws and the pump just snaps on to the mounted cage. Then you need only attach the bilge hose and you are ready for the water. You can get this model of bilge pump from most marine outlets for about $75.00.
Touching Up The Wood Craig Sandell © 2019 The traditional Muskie angler loves his/her wooden lures. Many Muskie anglers will tell you that the wood provides the lure with the type of action that plastic or composite lures cannot match. I will not debate the issue here. In this article I will provide some suggestions for conditioning your wooden lures so that they remain effective. It is not possible to discuss lures without mentioning brand names, however, the mention of a brand name should NOT be construed as an endorsement for the lure or as a testimonial as to its effectiveness. Wooden lures can be found in the crank bait category, the jerk bait category and the surface bait category. These wooden lures are effective because of their action in the water as they are retrieved. It is this action that not only attracts Muskie but also shortens the life of the lure. The Hawg Wobbler shown here is an excellent example of what happens to a lure over the course of a single season. The wear that is see here is caused by the hooks swinging freely with the action of the lure. Even if the hooks were blunted, the lure would still be marked from the hooks hitting the body of the lure. Yes, you can put an epoxy resin coating over the lure but this will add to the weight of the lure and impact upon
the lure's performance in the water. Frankly, even an epoxy coating will not be completely resistant to the relentless action of the hooks as the lure is retrieved. Notice also the wear on the lure body at the joint of the lure. This is the result of the jointed rear of the lure clacking against the front of the lure. This clacking is desirable when fishing the lure in poor light conditions and is very similar to the wear upon jointed crank baits as they are retrieved. How do you solve the body wear problem? You could retire the lure and buy a new one but this lure works so well, which is why it is so beat up, and there is no guaranty that a new lure will have the same action. You could disassemble the lure, strip it down to bare wood, sand it smooth, primer coat it with Kills and apply a new finish coat. Unfortunately, this too may cause the lure to become a "different" lure when put back into service. The most benign solution to exposed wood is the use of gun stock finish varnish. Truoil gun stock finish can be found at almost any sporting goods store and can be applied with relative ease. There are two tricks to this method of protecting the exposed wood. You MUST let the lure dry out completely. This is essential. If the lure is not completely dry, you
will only be sealing in moisture rather than keeping it out. If you live in a dry climate like that in Arizona or California, nature will do the work for you. If you are confined to a region where natural heat is at a premium in the winter, you will have to rely upon the "man-made" kind of heat. Don't get impatient. Remove the hooks and hang your lure up where it will enjoy the heat of the home. If you have forced air heating, you can hang it in close proximity to the heating vent. The trick is to let it get good and dry and that may take a month or two of constant exposure to moderate persistent heat. DO NOT try to force dry the lure with a hair dryer...let it dry exposed to the ambient air. Once the lure is dry, you are ready to apply the gun stock finish. This brings us to the second process trick. You must apply the finish in light and even coats. This is best accomplished using your index finger. Place a small amount of the liquid in the cap of the container. Dip the tip of your finger into the liquid in the cap and then apply a coat to the lure using your finger. DO NOT apply too much. A thin coating will do. Allow the coating to dry for a couple of days and then apply another coating. Do this as often as is required, usually 4 or 5 coats is enough.
Rods & Reels & Other Stuff Craig Sandell © 2016 I have gotten some Email concerning the storage of Muskie equipment during the cold off season period. I have done a little research and offer the following for your consideration: RODS Technically speaking, the fiber glass and composite graphite material used for Muskie rods should not be affected by the cold. Having said that, however, you must consider that any material that is subjected to extremes in temperature is likely to be effected in some way. Consider also, that many Muskie anglers have rods with cork butts. Cork is likely to retain some moisture. When moisture is frozen, it tends to expand causing some displacement to adjacent areas. This can translate into shorter life for the butt material of your rod. I would recommend that you store your rods in an area where the temperature does not get below freezing. The basement, the den, a hall closet; all of these would be a good choice. REELS Throughout the season, your reels are constantly subjected to moisture. Regardless of what you do, some moisture will remain in your reels. In addition, the grease used as lubricant in your reels will, under extremely cold temperatures, freeze. When the grease thaws, it will become brittle because the moisture in the
grease will have separated. Your reel lubrication will no longer be effective. As with the Rods, store your reels somewhere in the home where the temperature will remain above freezing. LURES Lures, especially wooden lures, will be damaged by extremely cold temperatures. Keep your lures in the house where they are warm. You have invested a lot of money in those lures and you need to treat them accordingly. ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT Prolonged storage of electrical equipment such as, depth finders, flashers, GPS systems, etc. in temperatures under freezing may cause the seals in the LCD compartments to rupture. In all cases, follow the manufacturer's instructions for storage. If you are unsure, keep them in the house where it is warm. A PARTING WORD All Muskie equipment was designed to be most effective in the warmer periods of the year. Don't put your equipment anywhere where you would not want to spend the winter. There is nothing more disappointing than the discovery that your equipment is no longer up to the rigors of Muskie fishing.
An Interview With Rich Reinert The Wisconsin Musky Expo Organizer By Craig Sandell With all of the other Musky shows that punctuate the off season, I was curious why Rich Reinert decided to make the personal commitment required to organize a successful Musky Expo. To satisfy my curiosity, I sat down with Rich to get his perspective. I asked Rich what motivated him to create the Wisconsin Musky Expo. "Well, to be honest, I was disappointed with the way the usual Musky Expos had evolved. Being a Northern Wisconsin resident, I found myself having to brave the winter weather to drive to Chicago or Milwaukee and found myself seeing the same large retailers and hearing the same spiel from the same seminar speakers. I thought to myself; I Can Do Better." I asked Rich what makes the Wisconsin Musky Expo in Wausau any better than the other shows. "In a word, ‘traditionalism’. Musky fishing has never had the following that Bass fishing has enjoyed and, as a consequence, Musky lure manufacturing has always been a ‘cottage industry’. Somewhere along the way in pursuit of the bottom line, the mass produced Musky lures from large retailers replaced the availability of high quality lures being made in limited quantities by dedicated Musky anglers. It was in my mind to change that
dynamic when I established the Wisconsin Musky Expo in Wausau. The 2012 Expo was a great success with not only local Northern Wisconsin Retailers but also the small Musky lure manufacturers that have been a traditional source of innovation for our sport." I asked Rich why these smaller manufacturers are not better represented at the other Musky shows. "That is simple…the high cost of show participation. The other shows charge upwards of $650.00 for a standard booth space. The small manufacturer cannot afford that type of initial costs and offset the costs of travel, lodging, meals, and product display. Add to that the overwhelming impact placed upon them by competition from the larger retailers and it is easy to see why choice in lure innovation is extinct at the other Musky shows." I told Rich that I could see his point but then, aren’t there better opportunities for Musky anglers to get Musky information from seminar speakers at the other shows? "Well, I am probably going to get some flak for this but here is my perspective. The other shows seem to have the same list of speakers year after year with the same presentations in an attempt to encourage folks to buy their stuff rather than to impart tips that will actually help them be successful on the water. Some of the best seminar presenters are conspicuously absent from the other shows. You see the same faces with the same presentations at the Chicago, Milwaukee, Michigan, and Minneapolis shows. My Wausau show has presentations by accomplished Musky anglers who you will not hear at the other Musky shows. These seminar guests provide the serious Musky angler with what he really needs; solid firsthand information that can lead to success on the water.
I asked Rich why he chose Wausau for the sight of his Musky Expo. "The concept behind the Wisconsin Musky Expo is rooted in the belief that Musky anglers in the fertile waters of Northern Wisconsin should not have to drive to Milwaukee, Chicago or Minneapolis to see new lures and have access to Musky services and resorts. I also wanted the Expo to be friendly to the ‘cottage industry’ of small lure manufacturers; the place where most lure innovations over the past 50 years have been hatched. In addition, I also wanted the Expo to be a great family Musky outing rather than the madhouse atmosphere you find at the other shows. The 2012 show achieved that goal and the 2013 show is shaping up to be ‘heads and tails’ above last year. We have free Musky lures for the first 200 people attending on Friday and 100 free rods for children under the age of 12 on Sunday." Interviewer’s Note: Rich and I spoke at some length and after the interview I was convinced that he was the "Real McCoy". It isn’t often in this day of slick advertising that you run across someone as genuine as Rich. I was so impressed with Rich that I decided to do something that I have never done…I decided to exhibit at the Wisconsin Musky Expo. I will see you there. Tight lines
Can A Release Be A Musky Record? Craig Sandell © 2020 There have been many articles that demonstrate that there is reason to re-consider the advisability of a record category for Musky that are released. Indeed, there isn't a person out there reading this that doesn't have access to a computer or to someone who has a computer. Computers make it easy to manipulate data regardless of whether that data is text based or graphic based. The availability and affordability of programs that can "enhance" a graphic image and even produce a photo negative brings into question whether one can actually believe what is seen. The concept of a record category for released Musky is an interesting thought but it just doesn't work. The problem is that, tough as it is to admit, there are folks out there that are not above bending the truth of a catch. Why would someone do such a thing? The easy answer is "MONEY". A person who can claim a world record release or a state record release can make a pretty nice piece of change from product endorsements for line, reels, rods, boats, motors and, of course, lures. There is even more to gain if the individual has a line of Musky lures or Musky products or guide services. Gone are the days when stout men climbed into small boats, powered up their 5 HP motors and set out in search of a personal adventure Musky fishing. Today, the Musky experience
has evolved into a very high profile sport/business. You need only look at the plethora of off-season Musky shows that mushroom up from Minnesota to New York to observe the marketability of Musky fishing. Yes, I know that many will say that not having a record release category will only encourage people to keep their Musky rather than release it. Why does someone keep a Musky? For some who are new to the sport, a first legal fish is a trophy. An accomplished and caring Musky angler will keep a Musky only if there is little or no possibility of a successful release. For other Musky anglers, its bragging rights or the possibility of a "pay day" that motivates them to keep their catch. These Musky anglers are going to keep a "pay day" fish whether a release category exists or not. They are not on the water for the experience unto itself but rather they are chasing the "pot of gold" at the end of the "Musky Product Endorsement Rainbow". As I stated earlier, the record release category is a noble idea. The problem is that there are some Musky anglers out there that have less than noble intentions. Feedback I recently received an E-mail that questioned this article...specifically taking exception to the concept of a "Payday Fish". It was evident from that E-mail that the sender has not recently looked at catalogs and magazines that use Musky personages to sell lures, videos, rod/reel combinations and 'How To' fishing adventures as well as Musky books.
Certainly, the folks who are selling their endorsement for money, goods, and/or services would not have been able to encourage a contributor or sponsor or student if they had not developed a reputation from catching Musky in the over 48 inch class. How much more would that 'earning power' be enhanced by a line class record? The pursuit of a 'Payday Fish' is real.
What Do You Do With All This Stuff! By: Craig Sandell In Collaboration With Mark Nurczyk © 2021 If you have been Musky fishing for a few years, you are likely to have an arsenal of lures similar to those pictured at the left. Having lots of lures, presents the Musky angler with a dilemma…“How do I get all these lures in the boat and still have room to fight a reluctant Musky”? Simple…you don’t! There is no way you are going to use more than a few lures for any Musky outing. However, limited lure inventory also means limited lure choice options. Musky anglers are typically inventive, and Mark Nurczyk is no exception. After reading one of our articles about lure storage boat options, Mark came up with a very unique approach to getting more lure choices in the boat. Like many of you, Mark has a Plano 7915 and like many of you, his tackle box was stuffed with lures. Doubtless, this box configuration leaves a lot to be desired regarding accessibility.
There is no place in the box for all the little bits and pieces of equipment that we use when we are on the water. Many of you have additional boxes that contain: Leaders Hooks Tools as well as any number of additional items that one might feel are necessary for success on the water. Mark decided that there had to be a better way and so, he started from scratch with an empty Plano 7915. Mark also when on a search for containers that would fit inside the Plano box but would provide storage but also visibility for the lures, leaders, tools and his miscellaneous items. It turns out that Plano also offers small storage boxes of various sizes that that can be used for all of his stuff. Mark was able to find small Plano boxes that were available at Menards. These box model numbers are: 3700 (deep) 3700 (standard) 3707 (no partitions) 3630 (deep),3620 (standard),3600 (narrow).
Mark then went on to label each of the boxes: Once the boxes were labeled, the process of installing them into the Plano 7915 box was easy.
With all of the boxes installed into the Plano 7915, Mark had a tackle box that had his lures and his miscellaneous fishing items all in a single tackle box. Certainly, you may have a different approach to keeping the boat clutter down to a minimum, but Mark's approach is clearly a thoughtful and efficient use of his existing Plano tackle box. As the off season progresses and the Musky show season approaches, hopefully Mark's approach will provide some "food for thought". Tight Lines
Childish & Chicken By Craig Sandell © 2015 In response to folks wondering why he seems to be absent from the Musky Show Speaker circuit, Joe posted this on his Facebook page. I am sure that Joe actually believes the tripe that he posted but I believe that it is time for a REALITY CHECK. Show promoters have a difficult balance to maintain when it comes to budgeting for a show. There is the rental of the Expo Center and the overhead of personnel to staff the show…which includes security. Then there is the cost for advertising in print and on radio during the weeks before the show. Once that is set, then the cost per booth space can be established. If the cost is too high, the small vendors who are the innovators in the Musky Lure business are “frozen” out and the only thing you get is large retailers and inflated prices. After all that is set, then it is time to consider what speakers are likely to provide visitors to the show with meaningful tips that will help them be successful on the water. For my part, I would rather hear from working guides who fish on multiple bodies of water using a wide range of techniques and a variety of different lure presentations. If Joe Bucher and his buddies Jim Saric and Steve Heiting are not being asked to speak, it may be because folks are tired of the same old self promotional presentations that turn out to be more fluff than
substance. It could also have something to do with the $1,500 to $2,500 speaker fee that is being charged for such lack lust presentations. Certainly, the seminar speaker lineup in Chicago, Milwaukee, Wausau and Minnesota reflects the reality that Musky anglers are hungry for something other than the same old crap from the same old people. The exhibitor line up at these shows also is also weighted to the smaller innovative Musky lure and Musky service providers. The face of off season Musky Expos is changing and if Joe, Jim and Steve choose to ignore the change, they will end up talking to themselves. JUST SAYIN’
Re-shafting LeLure Globes By Craig Sandell © 2019 Over the past couple years, I received quite a few e-mails from musky anglers who had the shaft on their LeLure globes break for no apparent reason. In this article, I will show you how to re-shaft your LeLure globe. A Little History For years, Frenchy LeMay custom made his own brand of lures. In the mid-90s, Frenchy and a few of his fishing friends began to market production runs of his lure designs under the brand name LeLure. After Frenchy's death, the production of the lures was outsourced to China. Because the LeLure company did not have the manpower or production resources to oversee the production of their lures in China, it was forced to rely upon the Chinese quality control and assurance. In addition, in order to be costeffective, single lot quantities of the lure models were ordered. Once the lures made in China began to hit the American market, complaints from the field began to surface. There were complaints about the eyes falling out and the paint peeling off as well as the shaft of their globes breaking for no apparent reason. After a little investigation of the globe problem, it became apparent that there were likely two reasons why the globe shafts were failing. The first reason was the application of excessive heat on the shaft during the production process.
The second was the inferior quality of the metal used for the shaft. Either of these two conditions will result in shaft fracturing for no apparent reason. Since all the globes were made in a single lot, all of the globes (about 5,000) have the potential for this type of failure. If this has happened to you, your LeLure globe sits in pieces in a drawer somewhere. The step-by-step instructions in this article should help you add your LeLure globe back into your arsenal of lures. Tools and materials that you will need: Split Rings
Use a .051 globe shaft diameter unless you want to try to replace the through tube in the globe head. Before You Begin Caution: Read through this entire article before you begin! Take the time to snap a photo of the globe so that you have a record of how the globe was constructed...this may be important as you re-assemble the globe. Note: Your globe may have a metal clip or swivel attached to the shaft, as shown below, to which the body hook is attached. Make sure that you take a picture when you remove the old shaft from the LeLure globe. Remove any hooks from the old globe to be sure that you do not puncture yourself. Now that you have the hardware and shaft removed from the old globe, you are ready to begin.
Re-assembly Activities A word of CAUTION: The through-tube size used in the LeLure Globe is not consistent. I recommend that you insert the through-wire into the globe head to make sure that the head spins freely. If it does not, you will need to use a smaller through-wire. Using the pre-bent globe shaft, slip a cup washer on to the shaft and then slide the shaft through the globe head. Now place a cup washer onto the shaft between the globe head and the globe body...this will allow the globe head to spin freely. If your globe has a metal clip or swivel that should be attached to the globe shaft, now is the time to position it into the globe body as you insert the shaft into the globe body. Now that the shaft is inserted into the globe body, you need to make a circle bend in the shaft protruding from the rear of the globe...there should be about 1½ inches of shaft protruding from the rear of the globe. Before closing the rear loop, slide a split ring onto the shaft as shown above.
It is now time to close the rear loop and trim any excess wire: Step 1 Take your vice grip pliers and clamp it of the loop as shown. This is done so that you will be able to exert leverage on the through wire as you close the loop. Step 2 Using your channel lock pliers, grasp the tag end of the through wire and wrap it around the shaft of the through wire as shown here. Step 3 You can now use your wire cutters to trim off any excess wire. Completed Globe Your globe is now assembled and should look similar to the globe pictured. Note: The globe head should spin freely on the through wire shaft. Also, the globe blade should rattle freely. Now it is a simple matter to to install hooks onto the split rings that you installed and you are ready to hit the water. If you have questions or need additional information, you can drop me an Email by Clicking Here. Tight Lines
The Vital Link Craig Sandell © 2010 The hooks on your lure represent one of the most vital links in the chain that is your Muskie tackle. Indeed, when Mr. Muskie strikes, your hooks are your most important link to a successful catch. Regardless of the weight of your line, the quality of your reel, the backbone of your rod or the sturdiness of your leader, if your hooks are dull and/or weak, you run the risk of a major Muskie disappointment. In this article, we will discuss some particulars of hook selection, maintenance and rigging. Today, the Muskie angler has a wide variety of treble hooks from which to choose. There are Ringed-round bend, Ringed-round bend (Extra Strong), Short shank variations, Longshank variations, Triple grip, weedless treble hooks....and the list goes on and on. We can gain some perspective regarding hooks if we consider the types of hooks installed on some of the "classic" Muskie lures. If you look at the old Surf-O-Reno, Cisco Topper, Pflueger Globe or Bonet, you will notice that, by today’s standards, the hooks are pretty anemic. Regardless of that, these lures are responsible for one heck of a lot of Muskie catches. This would lead one to believe
that the size and "beefiness" of a hook is not a guarantee of a successful Muskie boating. The attribute of a hook that is most conducive to fishing success is its sharpness. A hook that is sharp has a better chance at penetrating the bone of a Muskie’s jaw during the hooks set. There isn’t a hook made that is sharp enough for the Muskie angler without some sharpening activity on the part of the angler. If you take a close look at a virgin hook, you will notice that, although it is "sharp", it is not honed down to a fine "pin sharp" point. That "pin sharp" point is the goal of any hook sharpening activity. The sharpening of one of the hooks used by today’s Muskie angler is typically accomplished using a file. The battery operated sharpeners don’t usually give the Muskie angler the sharpness that he needs for a good hook set. There are plenty of files on the market and I have, for the purpose of this article, chosen two types. The single sided flat file is a standard in bait shops all over America. They are effective and inexpensive and should be in every Muskie angler's tackle box. The double file uses two rounded files set side by side and secured with a high impact plactic hand grip. The file will quickly hone a hook to a reasonably sharp point.
Each of these files are, with the proper application, capable of putting a good point on a hook, however, I would encourage all of you to consider using both files in order to quickly put that "pin sharp" point on your hooks. Use the double rounded file to hone the shape of your hook to a point. You may have to angle the file to the right and left as you pass it over the hook shaft and point. Once you have a good point on your hook using the double round file, take the single sided file and sculpt the hook to an extremely sharp pinpoint. How sharp should your hook be? The short answer is: as sharp as you can make it. There is a saying on the water that says: "your hooks should be so sharp that you draw blood just looking at them". That may be a bit overstated but it does make the point (excuse the pun). How often should you sharpen your hooks? Your hooks should get their first sharpening right out of the package. Remember that no "virgin" hook is sharp enough for the Muskie angler. After that, I would encourage you to check your hooks for sharpness before you start to work a spot. You should certainly, after a days fishing, check your hooks and refresh your hooks as needed. As Muskie anglers, we spend a lot of time preparing for the eventual Muskie encounter. Give your hooks their due and they will do for you what you require for a good hook set.
Nets…A Fresh Perspective By Craig Sandell © 2020 The 2019 Musky season was one of some tackle changes for me. These changes started with the use of VMS XHeavy hooks. Because of the inherent sharpness of these hooks and their penetrating power, I recognized that I would be tearing up the cloth fabric net bag that has been graced by a good number of Musky over the years. But which net to get?... Anyone who has read my articles on tackle and tactics knows that I am an advocate of getting first hand insight from other Musky anglers rather than relying upon the advertisements in catalogs or the sport shop spiel. That is exactly what I did. I talked with folks who are using the Frabill coated net and the Beckman Fin Saver coated net to get some informed perspective. Note: I did not consider a cradle because of the sharpness of the hooks and because a cradle is really a two man operation and, like most Musky anglers, I am fishing alone more often than not. Both of these nets fit the bill relative to resistance to penetration by the Owner Hook, so the decision came down to ease of use and fish and angler safety. The Frabill net has a traditional large mesh bag. The handle is lightweight, and the rim is reasonably sturdy. The Musky, when in the net, will have its body bent by the net by virtue of the fish’s weight pulling down on the lowest part of the bag. It is easier to remove tangled hooks from the larger mesh but the stress upon the fish is greater.
The smaller mesh also makes it tougher to untangle hooks and free the Musky from the lure. The Beckman Fin Saver has a dual mesh design. Overall the mesh is smaller but the bottom of the net is designed to flatten out with the weight of the fish. This allows the fish to sit comfortably in the net in a manner similar to that of a cradle. The net handle and frame combine to make a sturdy net, however, the weight of the net is a bit heavier than what most anglers are used to…especially when you are alone fighting a fish and doing the "Musky Dance" as you try to lead the fish to the net with your rod hand while maintaining the ability to strategically remove the net if the fish bolts Bottom line…both nets have drawbacks and selling points…I chose the Beckman and here is why:
I really liked the bag configuration concept and so did the other Musky anglers with whom I consulted. Having a nice 43 inch fish in the net reinforced the belief that the decision was a good one. The hook entanglement in the smaller mesh was a problem but, ever since I had a hook driven into my hand by a thrashing Musky when I stuck my hand in the net to free it, I have adopted the practice of cutting embrangled hooks with my compound bolt cutter…so net/hook entanglement was a minor consideration. I felt that the extra weight of the net was manageable for me…you may have a different perspective for yourself. A Parting Word Both of these nets are good quality nets from manufacturers that stand behind their product. As more Musky anglers turn to the presharpened hooks from Owner or from VMC Rapala, the need for coated nets that resist puncture of bag mesh becomes acute. If you are considering a new net for the coming season, you can probably see them at your local sport shop or at one of the Musky shows that start in January. I would encourage you to, before buying, talk with other Musky anglers and get the benefit of their experience with
the net you are considering. When you are on the water with a fish tugging at your line, it is too late to discover that your net has draw backs to its efficient use. Don’t get sucked in by hype or name endorsements by Musky notables…make an informed decision not a gut decision. Tight Lines Author's Note - Since I purchased the Beckman Fin Saver net, I have had the opportunity to use it quite a few times. I am very pleased with the lack of stress that is put on the fish when it is in the net. However, I have come to realize that the weight of the net makes it very hard to handle when fishing by oneself. I have been successful netting fish when fishing by myself, but it was a real struggle. I firmly believe that the potential for a bad net job when fishing by oneself is very high. I will be buying another lighter net to use when I am fishing alone. I have not decided upon a net as of yet but it will certainly be one with a coated bag. Many of my fellow "Musky Wizards" have suggested that I look at the Frabill net and I will certainly give them a look. 2013 Update - Well, I went and bought a Frabill net to use when I am fishing by myself, and it worked very well. But then the thought struck me...would the Beckman Fin Saver bag fit on the Frabill frame? I carefully took the bags off each net frame and then strung the Beckman bag onto the Frabill frame. It worked very well...I now had a Musky friendly net bag on a net frame I could use handily.
BALANCING YOUR TACKLE!!! Craig Sandell © 2011 With all of the items on the market meant to attract the attention of the Musky angler, it is very easy to lose sight of the reason that all of these products are available. The basic credo for Musky tackle is to balance your tackle so that there are no weak links in your configuration. All of the items available in the marketplace are there to provide the Musky angler options. This article will offer you some perspective into balancing your tackle. The reels, line, rods and leaders shown here are used for the purpose of demonstration and are NOT and endorsement of the products. For many Musky anglers the first tackle mystery is what reel to use. Anglers new to Musky fishing sometimes make the mistake of thinking that they can use their bass, crappie or walleye reels when fishing for Musky. Unless the reel you are using is a heavy duty bait casting reel, you will need to go out and invest in a good bait casting reel that has good line capacity. My suggestion would be to make the reel dedicated to your Musky fishing exploits Remember also that if you plan to setup more than one rod you will need more than one musky reel. (Heavy duty spinning reels are OK if you plan to use monofilament line.) The reel should
have at least a 4.7:1 retrieve ratio and should have a large retrieve handle like the one shown here. Reels run from $55 to $130 depending upon where you buy them. Now that you have your reel, you will need some line...what line to get? There are many new line materials available today. Many claim to be indestructible. Frankly, no line is indestructible. Although these new line materials offer smaller diameter, they do not perform well under some applications. If you have ever tried to undo a serious backlash of spectra fiber or Kevlar line you understand the problem. If you use spectra line, you need to change your casting technique so that you don't overpower your cast and cause persistent backlashes. The Musky fishing line of choice for many years has been braided micron. This line material does not stretch very much and so, it is good for lures from jerk baits to suckers. Tuf-line, a spectra line, has been around for a few years and has developed a good reputation. The Tuf-line Plus (pictured) is a rounder line and has a smother finish which will resist fraying. What color line should you use? As is the case with lure color, line color selection is almost a religious experience. Consider though that IF Musky can actually see the line in the water, they would see it only as it passes
overhead. If the sky is overcast or even blue, white line would be the least visible to the Musky. What line test should you use? This also is a matter of preference, however, you run the risk of being broken off with line weight under 25 pounds. The lighter the line weight the more likely it is to fray. If you have ever lost a fish to a frayed line you probably retie your line every time you finish fishing a spot (This includes Tuf-Line). If you're not doing that, you may have a great story for the bar as I did in the 2009 Musky season. Consider 40 to 50 pound test line in Tuf-line for your light to medium rods and 40 pound test Micron for the rod you have setup for your heavy jerk baits. You could also use the 80 pound Tuf-line Plus for all your rods. Leaders If you fish for Musky, you probably use a leader. Solid, not braided, wire is usually the leader material of choice. The wire should be stainless steel. What test should the leader be? Wire under 174 pound test (.029 gauge) tends to be prone to twisting and kinking while the heavier leader wire tends to inhibit lure performance. There are some good titanium leaders available on the market. The tag ends of these leaders are secured with a crimp...a potential weak link in the tackle chain.
What snap to use? The snap should match the gauge of the leader wire. It should be easy to unclasp for the purposes of changing lures but have enough tensile strength to maintain its clasp during a violent Musky encounter. What about swivels? Remember that a swivel is just one more link in the chain that could fail. If you are using a bucktail you should probably use a swivel to prevent your line from twisting. Twisted line makes your line prone to backlash. If you are going to use a swivel, buy a good one. A good swivel may cost $1.50 each but it will not let you down and it will stand up under hard use. If you go on the 'Cheap' and buy the Berkley swivels, which are more suited to bass, you will regret it. What size leader should you use? Depending upon the lure you are using, lengths from 7 inches to 11 inches are good choices. The smaller sizes for surface lures and bucktails and the larger size for jerk baits. And Then There Are Rods Finally, I get to the fishing rod. Rods also come in a variety of materials and sizes. Rod selection is also a religious experience for many Musky anglers. There are some standards that you might want to consider
Composite rods of fiber glass and graphite offer good backbone as well as the flexibility to properly play a fish reluctant to be landed. Rod lengths from 6 feet to 7 feet are pretty standard with the shorter and stouter rod being used to throw the jerk bait. If you're not sure, 6½ to 7 feet is usually a safe bet. There is a lot of hype about using a 7½', 8' and even 9' rods. Cal Johnson caught his World Record on a 5'9" rod...you be the judge! Remember that your rod is going to be attached to you for the better part of your Musky fishing day. For that reason, the handle and grip are areas of key concern. Each of us is different and so it stands to reason that when it comes to fishing rods: ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL. Buying your rod from a catalog is a lot like buying shoes through the mail. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't. Go to a sport shop or tackle shop where you can "see, touch and feel". Handles should be around 20 inches from the rod butt to the end of the grip in front of the reel mounting area. (14" of 15" butt and 6" foregrip.) Your rod is going to be wet all of the time so make sure all metal parts are stainless steel. The rod tip line guide should be made of one solid piece without an insert. Inserts will dislodge regardless of what the salesperson tells you and you will be left with a useless rodI have given you a lot to think about and I would encourage you to do just that before you spend your hard earned cash. When you are in the middle of thousands of acres of water,
the last thing you need is bad line, a cheap rod, an anemic reel, and a bent leader. Spend the time to plan your fishing approach and then match your tackle to that approach. Don't be hesitant to ask other Musky fishermen questions or to ask to see their tackle. As is the case in most things we do in life; we learn by doing…..so it is with Musky fishing. Tight Lines
Musky Shows-Perhaps Bigger Is Not Better By Rob Meusec©2022 Last year I attended a new musky show in north central Wisconsin. It was The Wisconsin Musky Expo in Wausau, Wisconsin. I vote yes, yes, yes! It’s about time that the region in north central Wisconsin had its own regional Musky show considering the fact that we are in a very productive Musky area with good numbers of Musky anglers. We are only a couple of hours south of the premier musky fishing waters of the north. This was not like the traditional huge shows which I have attended in past years in Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. It was large, don‘t get me wrong, over 100 booths, but it was different. Yes…There were many booths with lure makers showing their wares, a few retailers on a smaller scale, the major replica reps and your usual musky show by-products.
Here are just a few of the show vendors for your consideration. Absent were the gigantic retailers that are so familiar to all of us who attend these annual shows. I found it really refreshing. What made it refreshing? You actually had an opportunity to actually talk to the people that build the lures that many of us use every season. I’m not saying that you can’t do that at the big shows, but you usually have to stand in line just to see the baits, let alone actually talk to the builders. It was kind of an up close and personal feeling. If you wanted to shop there was every opportunity to do so. But if you wanted to talk and relate to the people behind the baits and products, this is the show for you. Congratulations show promoters! You’ve got a winner here. I will be back next year for sure! I highly recommend it.
Who's The Fish Here??? By: Craig Sandell © 2019 Whether it is the middle of Muskie season or we are 'ice bound', Muskie Fever can still really take hold of us all. We find ourselves dreaming of open expanses of water where monster Muskie are snapping at our lures and providing us the thrill of a lifetime. We find ourselves looking longingly at our tackle boxes and the lures that are in our arsenal and wondering if, perhaps, we should add a lure or two. Throughout the year, we find ourselves inundated by advertisements for lures that are "guaranteed" to catch a Muskie "just like the one" pictured in the ad. But before we start digging too deep into our wallets, perhaps it’s time for a reality check.No lure is guaranteed to catch Muskie. They may be guaranteed to perform in a certain way when used but they are not guaranteed to put a Muskie in the boat. Just because someone "supposedly" caught a monster Muskie using XYZ lure, there is no assurance that you will be able to duplicate that feat if you use XYZ lure.The same thing goes for rods, reels, electronics,
line, boats and motors. Before you chuck that hard earned money onto the counter, you might consider the following: • How many lures do you have and how often do you use them? [Be honest with yourself !!] • How many of the lures that you use have actually caught fish? • Did you select the lure type and/or color because it caught your eye or was it part of your attack plan? • Did you buy your lures based solely upon an advertisement? Most Muskie anglers are strongly influenced by lure advertisements or Muskie fishing videos. Take for example the Poes brand of lures. These lures are the main focus of a particular fishing personality who also has a vested interest in the sale of these lures. The fishing video programs for this person demonstrates the effectiveness of these lures by showing Muskie being caught using them. The video presentation is excellently edited and the motivation to go out and buy these lures is compelling. Remember, however, that most videos are shot on the same body of water meaning that the fisherman has a unique knowledge of the structure being fished and the emerging patterns for the Muskie as the season progresses. It is also highly likely that the fish appearing on videos have been previously scouted so that only high percentage locations are fished for the video production. Lastly, remember that ONLY one brand of lure is typically used. (We all know that if you only throw one lure you are likely to catch Muskie on only one lure.)
Another example can be found in the lure catalogs where pictures of Muskie personages holding a big fish are associated with a 'Signature Series' of rod & reel or with a particular lure. Was the pictured fish actually caught using that 'Signature Series' or is this just a slick marketing approach as the result of a "money-for-name" agreement? All Muskie lures catch fish, given the right weather conditions, the right seasonal pattern, the right time of day and some good luck. Lures should not be bought without first considering where and when they will be used. So how does one decide where to spend his money? Not an easy question to answer. First of all, if you are a member of a Muskie club, talk to your club mates. Ask them what type of lures they have had success with and what are the lures with which they have NEVER had success. Develop a plan of attack for your fishing trip. The plan should consider the time of the season, the color of the water and the success of other fishermen on that body of water. Lastly, check out the local Muskie haunts and see what lures are actually catching Muskie. Many resorts keep a Muskie chart and many Muskie anglers will, although reluctantly, give you some sense of the lures that are working. We all work hard to plan an intelligent approach to our Muskie outings. Apply that same attitude to deciding what lures to buy (if any) as you move into the next Muskie season. Tight Lines.
Tips On Hiring A Musky Guide Craig Sandell © 2020 Every registered guide in the state of Wisconsin pays a fee for a license to operate as a guide. The guide also makes the following oath: I, _________________ do solemnly swear that I will well and faithfully perform the duties of the office of a guide licensed by the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to guide, direct and assist other persons in fishing in accordance with the provisions of s.29.512., Wis. Stats. How much does a guide cost? How do I know if the guide is good? What is expected from me as a client? Should I tip the guide? Why should I hire a guide? How much does a guide cost? Many guides will offer a half day or a whole day guide service. A full workday is 8 hours (no exceptions). Obviously, a half day should be half as much as a full day. The cost should not go up if more than one person is hiring the guide. Full day guiding usually includes the courtesy that you pay for lunch. A full day guide job runs from $325 to $400 (half days are about $250). If you are paying more, then you are paying for a name as well as for a guiding service. Also, many guides will quote a price that is
contingent upon having action...if you do not have action the price is usually less. How do I know if the guide is good? Ask other fishermen about the guide you are considering. If you hire a guide through the Resort you are staying at you are less likely to get a bum steer. Ask to see the guide's License. Check out the guide's boat before you hire him; typically, a shabby boat is an indicator of a shabby guide service. Beware the guide that toots his own horn; if he is a successful guide other people will "sing his praises". What is expected from you as a client? Your responsibilities are to be on the dock on time. You should have your gear in good working order. You should NOT be drunk. You should treat your guide like a fellow Musky angler; not like hired help. You should pay when services are rendered. (All of these things, with the exception of the payment item, are things that you should expect from your guide. ) Should I tip the guide? Some guides, like Joe Bucher, expect to get a tip. Indeed, Mr. Bucher has expressed that sentiment in print and presupposes to speak for hundreds of Musky guides on this issue (of course he fails to name any of those guides who share his sentiment). As a guide on the Chippewa Flowage, I view a tip as a reward for service above and beyond the performance for which you contracted!!! That brings us to the final question.
Why should I hire a guide? You hire a guide because he has a better knowledge of the fishery than you do and should, therefore, be able to put you on to some fish. If you are only up for a day or two, a guide is your best investment to a productive outing. If you are up for a week or two, you hire a guide to not only put you on to fish but to also give you some tips on where to fish the rest of your time on the water. Your guide should give you tips on the best lures to use (not just the ones that he sells), the best time of day to fish, and even the occasional tip on casting technique. All these things are reasons why you pay a guide to take you out fishing. Your guide should eagerly mark your map so that you can retrace your guide outing. If you get a level of performance that is greater than that which you feel you have paid for, then a tip is in order. Adjust any tip amount to be equal to the guide's extra performance. A Final Word !!! Remember that you are hiring a guide to enhance your fishing skills and knowledge and to increase your opportunity to catch a fish. Remember also that a person is able to be a guide because he spends one heck of a lot of time on the water fishing. If you were able to spend as much time on the water as your guide does, you could hire out your services as a guide. In fact, that is how many people who are guides became guides.
• Beware the guide that only uses his brand of lure during the guide day. • Beware the guide who tells you nothing about the water you fish. • Beware the guide that assumes it is OK if he fishes for himself. (Remember, the guide is there to take you to a spot and keep the boat in position while you fish...He can't do that if he is casting.)
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