The Muskellunge is unquestionably the #1 apex predator when it comes to North America’s lakes and rivers.
Yes, fish like Sturgeon are much bigger and stronger (sometimes), giant Lake Trout have been documented to eating 8-pounders of their own species, Northern Pike school up and slash anything in their way, however, there’s no comparison to the all-round nastiness when it comes to the Muskie. When you hear stories of someone’s little “Fluffy”, their pet dog being engulfed from the lakes surface, that pretty much sums it up.
Muskie fishermen as well, are a breed in their own. They take fishing to the next level. Multiple rod and reel combos at about a thousand to fifteen hundred bucks a pop (don’t let the wives read this), trolling speeds in and around and sometimes over 5 mph, weather conditions that would put the average angler in the cottage beside the fire, and finally throwing lures and baits all day long, that only England’s strongman Eddie Hall should be able to handle.
We asked two of our favorite Muskie fishing experts (Gord Pyzer and John Anderson) their opinion on what they throw with the most confidence when stalking “the fish of 10,000 casts”
Here are the Top 5 Muskie Baits they came up with:
TOP 5 Muskie Baits
Gord “The Doc” Pyzer lives in Kenora Ontario, home of “Husky the Muskie” and more importantly, in the heart of Muskie country. He’s a multi-species expert but has an extreme fondness for the Muskellunge. Lately, Gord has been accompanied by his grandson Liam who is truly turning into one of the best all-round young anglers in the country.
Here are 3, yup you heard it right THREE of Gord’s top Muskie baits (as written by Gord):
Mepps Muskie Killer
This one will surprise you because it is so old school, but the original Mepps Muskie Killer is lethal when the season first opens. Muskie anglers will tell you the big toothy critters prefer smaller lures early in the season because they’re eating smaller bait. What nonsense. The reason smaller lures work so well is because you can retrieve them much faster and keep them moving just under the surface. Oh, yes, all the colour combinations work well, so long as it has a silver blade and white bucktail.
The best day of muskie fishing I have ever enjoyed was on the Detroit River with guide Jon Bondy. We caught 15 muskies in 15 hours, including four Incredible Hulks in the 40-pound-plus fish-of-a-lifetime category. Even most of the “smaller” fish tipped the scales at more than 30 pounds. And every one of them fell to a vertically jigged Bondy Bait. I never leave home without at least one rod rigged with one tied on.
Water Wolf Lures Shadzilla
The Shadzilla is one of my key “go-to” muskie baits when I am fishing shallow structures (underwater points, saddles and rock piles) that lie adjacent to deep water. I love the way you can cast it up shallow and swim it back to the boat while banging it through the rocks, but then let it flutter and fall when it reaches the transition zone between deep and shallow. That is also when so many of the big fish hit. I think they follow it out and then smack it when it makes the desperate directional change. Gotta’ confess, too, the paddle tail and side-to-side wobble make it a great bait for converting follows.
Ang’s Opinion On Gord’s Choices
When “the Doc” speaks, people need to listen. I absolutely love Gord’s above choices as they cover a really nice range of muskie bait types. The smaller in-line spinner is an absolute beast in the early season. We’ve caught lots of big Esox on these (all year long in fact). The Bondy bait may look a little strange (ok a lot strange) but its success in fish production is not at all strange. Fantastic river bait that I can’t wait to try on Lake St Francis (St Lawrence River). Finally the Shadzilla. If you have used one, you’ll know exactly what Gord is talking about when referring to the side to side wobble. If you haven’t tried one, do it!
Note – Outdoor Canada Magazine Fishing Editor Gord Pyzer is widely regarded as Canada’s most scientific angler. Known in fishing circles as Doctor Pyzer, he worked for 30 years as a senior manager with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources before devoting all his energies to fishing. A member of the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame, the award-winning writer is also an internationally sought out speaker, tournament angler and field editor with In-Fisherman Magazine and Television. Catch Gord on the Outdoor Journal Radio Show live every Saturday morning 8:05AM EST. If you’re in southern Ontario, tune your radio to Sportsnet 590 The FAN AM or visit www.fan590.com and listen live online.
If you travel anywhere in the vicinity of the Ottawa River and Muskie fishing is on your mind, then John Anderson of the Ottawa River Musky Factory’s name will pop up quickly. John is a professional fishing guide that has built a world-class reputation on Muskie fishing in his area.
Here are two of John’s favorite Muskie baits:
Why – because double-bladed inlines catch over half the fish every year*. The world loves #10 size blades and flashabou. I like #8s better because they give off a different signature in the water than what the fish are used to, they are WAY easier to cast and reel in, and they catch just as many fish.
Favorite Blade – Musky Factory Sonix – It has a vibrating bell and that makes it even more different than all the other inlines fish see these days. Killer good in stained or dirty water and in the dark.
* John keeps close records on all fish caught during every single trip since it is to his benefit in producing future fish for his customers.
Top Water Baits
Why – cuz’ it’s the most fun you can have musky fishing!
Favourite flavours – Big Mamas and Weagles when “Walkin’ The Dog” ** is what they need.
** In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 3 decades, John’s reference is to a technique in where the stick-style topwater (technique started out with a Zara Spook) comes back in a staggered, zig-zagging, back and forth pattern. From Bass to Pike to Muskie to a multitude of saltwater species, Walkin’ The Dog flat out works!
Pete’s Opinion On John’s Choices
I’ve fished enough with John now to know that whatever he says or recommends, I listen to! Especially when fishing “his” home water, the Ottawa River. I’ve personally thrown the Musky Factory blades in the color pictured (Johnny A) with double 8’s. That particular bait saved our shoot. I threw it with total confidence and it came through. As for the Weagle, I haven’t personally Walked The Dog for Muskie yet, but I certainly have done it for Bass and Pike. Let’s just say, it’s an awesome technique in how it produces and in sheer fun. I can only imagine what it’s like when a 45″ Muskie wakes behind and then annihilates a Weagle or a Big Mama!
Well there you have it, the 5 top Muskie baits from 2 of North America’s premiere Muskie fishing experts. Come this Muskie season, tie on one or two of these suggestions, stick with them in confidence and eventually things will pay off.
Best of luck and keep fluffy on a leash!