I admit it; I’m a sucker for tradition. That’s probably one of the reasons I love the fall time of year – it’s full of traditions like grouse hunting, deer hunting, trips to the pumpkin patch and of course, the Thanksgiving Holiday. It’s also a time of year when trolling for Muskies can traditionally be THE best way to put a real trophy fish in the net. This is especially true on the largest Muskie waters like the Bay of Green Bay, Lac Seul and Lake of the Woods to name a few.
So what makes trolling such a “traditional” pattern this time of year? It’s certainly not related to structure; on Lake of the Woods the best trolling spots tend to be steep rock drop-offs and walls near deep water where as on Green Bay the biggest muskies come from trolling large relatively featureless flats. What these two systems do have in common however are hungry muskies, and hungry muskies want food. Find their preferred forage, and you’ll find the fish you’re after.
A little research on any good muskie water will quickly give you a good idea of the general areas that hold good possibilities for catching fish. Seems every lake with a “tradition” of fall muskie fishing has a few key areas where the majority of the action takes place. Understand however, that on many of these larger lakes, a “general area” may be a couple square miles in size. That means there is still a large part of the location puzzle that you need to put together. In order to narrow down the search is going to take some time on the water and some good technology.
Those that know me know that I am not the most technologically savvy individual on the planet. However, when it comes to fishing electronics and using them to find key fishing areas and fish, I have adapted and I must say it has increased my understanding of the Muskie’s environment and movements more than I could have ever imagined. I always thought of myself as pretty good at interpreting what I was seeing on my sonar in the past, and as the units got better and gave us as anglers better resolution, my understanding of what was below the surface got better and better. But when Lowrance came out with their StructureScan technology for the HDS units, my world changed forever. With features like the SideScan Imaging, I can now search to the sides of my boat, out a couple hundred feet, which is a real benefit when searching for the large schools of baitfish that attract muskies this time of year. And when it comes to interpreting what’s below the boat, DownScan takes you WAY beyond regular sonar imaging. No longer do I have to guess if what I’m seeing on my screen is a school of bait, weeds or brush; now with DownScan, I get as clear a picture as possible showing me exactly what’s below the boat. Even for the technology-challenged like me, this is pretty simple stuff to learn to use, and the benefits to your fishing success will be substantial.