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Home / Fishing / Articles



Finding The Fish

By: Chris Harris

Every musky angler dreams of a waterway filled with large muskies unknown to everyone else. What most anglers donít know is that often this dream can become a reality with a bit of map work and driving. I guide in Eastern Ontario and when I bring most people to our fishing destinations they look at me as if I'm crazy and seem to think it's some kind of joke. The reason is the majority of the time the places I take them to look more like a creek worthy of small pan fish and not the fish of a thousand casts. After catching four or five muskies over thirty inches and a few more quite a bit larger that look is gone and in its place a look of amazement. These places arenít uncommon if you know where to look.

In Ontario there are a few well-known Musky fisheries. Among them are; Lake of the Woods, The Kawarthas, The St-Lawrence River, The tweed waterways and the Ottawa River. These spots are known to hold many muskies and so are good places to start. In order to find your secret honey hole the first thing you need to get is a detailed map of the area around the specific waterways. Scan the map quickly for Feeder Rivers and nearby rivers to the major body of water. Once this is done look for smaller creeks feeding into the Feeder Rivers and make a note of where any widening in the river occurs. These are prime areas for musky because there is often plenty of forage for the musky and sometimes a change in current.

Now that you have located your potential spots it is time to scout them out. This may often require a canoe or a johnboat to get into the smaller rivers. Once you reach the spot to be scouted there are a few helpful observations needed to be made to see if the place has potential. The first piece of information you should try to determine is the depth of the water. A fish finder or flasher can be quite helpful here but if not some measured fishing line and a weight can be used. An ideal spot should have an average depth of around ten feet with a few shallower areas as well as a few deeper holes. The second piece of information that should be determined is if there is sufficient oxygen and forage for the fish. A good way to go about this is to look to see if there is evidence of aquatic plants which would indicate oxygen, it can be hard to determine if there is sufficient forage so you will have to make an educated guess by looking at potential food for the baitfish such as frogs, minnows, nymphs etc. If you have these elements then there is a high probability that there will be musky present.

Now you know where the musky are the fun part begins, catching them! From my experiences the river musky donít seem that much different from their lake cousins. However I will mention a few methods for catching them, which I have had success with.

The first tip concerns the location of these fish. Musky are opportunist and donít like to work for their
food. They are found where the prey is the easiest to catch. A few of these areas include rivers to creeks, bottlenecks and weed lines. When you are fishing the bends of the rivers cast the majority of the time on the inner lip, with the occasional cast to the outside. I would estimate that approximately seventy percent of our strikes take place on the inner corner of the river bend.

As far as bait goes almost anything will work. In the summer it seems that buzz baits and long plastics with a light jig head work well. After turnover and prior to summer large crank baits and small to medium size jerk baits take the majority of the fish.

As it is in all types of musky fishing, in order to be successful the angler must be aware and prudent. Remember sharp hooks can make the difference and every cast could be the one in which the fish strikes, so be aware. River fishing for musky is quite the experience, very few things can compare to seeing a 50 inch musky follow a jig up to your boat in a river with a width sometimes only twice the size of the fish following your lure. Last but not least try not to laugh when the other anglers joke about the dried up creek your fishing in.


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