Original Broadcast Date: February 20, 2021
How would you rather catch a Muskie, casting, or trolling?
Now, remember, this “is” the fish of 10,000 casts.
Let’s say you’re trolling.
You cast out once, wait, and finally hook up.
You just saved 9,999 casts. Energy conserved, well done!
However, if after your 10,000th cast, you hook into a beast, either on a topwater or at boat side on a figure 8, we can pretty much guarantee it will be the highlight of your entire fishing life!
As you can probably tell, this Fish’n Canada episode article is all about the Muskellunge, the nation’s #1 freshwater predator…
CANADIAN MUSKIE RANGE
The Muskie’s range in Canada is somewhat limited. It is nowhere near the Lake Trout, Northern Pike, or the Walleye’s distribution. In fact, as far as we know, they are pretty much nonexistent to the west, with only Quebec and New Brunswick and Ontario having any solid Muskie history. This small, select portion of Canada is part of the reason the Muskie is so popular.
WHAT ABOUT THE PANDEMIC, CAN WE STILL MUSKIE FISH?
With the mystique and allure of the Muskie, it brings a huge economic boost to the country. The year of the pandemic, however, things have certainly changed. As we have been saying all season long, Covid 19 has altered the way we do each and everything in our lives, including fishing.
The upside to this though, is locals, as well as those with permission and are willing to travel and isolate, can still take advantage of this amazing fish species by taking a trip to some of the following destinations: making sure to adhere to health protocols.
For this piece, we cover what, on paper, calculates to be the country’s single best Muskie area, and that is hands down, the province of Ontario.
NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO MUSKIE
Now if you really want to take advantage of what we think is going to be a banner Muskie season and want to try your luck in the #1 Muskie area in the entire universe, then you need to venture to the north-west portion of Ontario.
This area is so packed with Muskie water, that it will blow your mind. From tiny little obscure lakes to massive complex water bodies, this area is like no other.
Where else, in a single area, can you run a lake to lake, head-to-head comparison of top-class Muskie fishing destinations like Lake of the Woods, Lac Seul, Eagle Lake, the Indian Lake Chain, Wabigoon Lake, Cedar Lake, Little & Big Vermillion Lakes plus many, many more.
LAKE NIPISSING & THE UPPER FRENCH RIVER MUSKIE
Northwest Ontario is arguably the “hottest” muskie area in the world, we have no idea where else you would compare it to.
That said, if you travel further south in the province, that is when you get into specific water bodies that harbor true, world-class giants!
If you are looking for an absolute beast of a Muskie, Lake Nipissing, the French River, and Georgian bay… which are all connected, by the way, have put as many giant Muskie on the bumper board, as pretty much anywhere else in the world.
Lake Nipissing and the Upper French are directly connected, making it a vast area to cover but, there’s always somewhere in this Muskie mecca that will be protected enough, during even the nastiest of conditions.
Whether you troll or cast, this is a place that legendary Muskie tales are created.
GEORGIAN BAY & THE LOWER FRENCH RIVER MUSKIE
Georgian Bay, along with the lower French, are two bodies of water that can intimidate even the best of anglers. Between rocks and big water, it’s hard to even find a starting point.
However, just like the Upper French and Nipissing, there are always protected areas from the harsh elements. In our case, Mill Lake close to Killarney is a perfect area to try your hand at a Georgian Bay Muskie. It is well protected, and it harbors some fantastic fish.
On our shoot there, Pete caught a giant Georgian Bay Northern Pike, a whack of Smallmouth Bass as well as the pictured below Muskie.
What a phenomenal shoot!
OTTAWA RIVER MUSKIE
Getting back to the ultimate in Muskie fishing locations, the Ottawa River is another amazing Muskie factory that simply put, blows the minds of diehard addicts, season after season.
With a length of over 1,200km, a Discharge of around 1,950 cubic meters of water per second, and flanking both Ontario and Quebec, one would think that the Ottawa river was chocked full of Muskie. The fact is their range is quite specific with the strongest numbers in the southern section of the river…
LAKE ST CLAIR MUSKIE
Moving to the south-west portion of the province, the St Clair River along with Lake St Clair may well be the #1 adjoining Muskie waterbodies in the world when combining both numbers of fish and size. Lake St Clair used to be known as a Muskie trolling destination, however, the trend has shifted towards casting as well. Now, it runs at about 50/50 and they both are highly effective techniques, in this Muskellunge rich area.
ST. LAWRENCE RIVER
River systems play a huge role in Ontario’s trophy Muskie world and that’s where we experienced the best Muskie fishing of our lives, on the St Lawrence River; possibly the #1 trophy producing Muskie water of all time.
With the strong, continuous current always flowing to the east, the St Lawrence becomes “not your average Muskie water”. Boat control becomes more difficult. Casting to a waypoint is often only for brief moments, always having to reposition. Trolling up-current might be too slow, trolling down-current may be too fast. Or vice versa. Drifting is a great option BUT… bottom bouncing baits can and will get snagged in the rocks and wood.
Add to this, the food supply for the local Muskies; well let’s just say it makes the Mandarin look like a joke!
But it’s all of these small hurdles, that make this place truly special…
What Fishing Tactic Is Best For You?
Probably the biggest question, especially from novice anglers wanting to get into Muskie fishing is, do I cast or do I troll. This 100% depends on the angler’s skill level and their desire to work.
If you are at best, an occasional Muskie angler or are a novice all-around angler wanting to target Muskie, then trolling is our recommendation. With trolling you don’t have to worry about backlashes, extra-long leaders, figure eights, and most of all, fatigue.
Essentially you can drop back a short amount of line directly behind the boat, put the rod in a holder… HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… and wait. That lure will track perfectly in any direction the boat driver chooses.
It truly is precision fishing.
If you put in the time and troll a bait like a Believer, eventually you will catch a Muskie.
The alternative method to trolling is casting. This is for the more ambitious Muskie angler. Heavy-duty baitcasting gear is a must here. If baitcasting intimidates you, then you best plant your butt “back” in the driver’s seat… and troll.
To us, the second hardest element of casting for Muskie is constantly firing out big lures. Unfortunately, the hardest chore is bringing them back.
We have always said, our hats go off to the hardcore Muskie addicts who insist on casting, during every outing.
By the way, there is a 3rd Muskie fishing method that works fantastic, when the conditions exist.
In rivers or lake systems with strong currents, drift fishing becomes a tremendous Muskie fishing tactic… (this one leads into the St Lawrence footage)
OUR RECOMMENDED MUSKIE BAITS
If you investigate an avid Muskie angler’s lure collection, you will see a mind-blowing array of baits. Thousands & thousands of dollars’ worth. Not to worry, you don’t need to go that deep into your bank account. If you are just getting into Muskie fishing, here are a few bait ideas, we recommend.
If you are after “THE” most exciting strike in all of Muskie fishing, then a topwater bait is a must. Sometimes the hit is subtle, often it’s mayhem.
Next is a crankbait-style lure. This is a great choice for trolling. Sometimes they can be expensive to purchase, but they last for a long time!
Next is probably the #1 Muskie Lure of all time, the Bucktail spinner. Double blades from #6 up to #12 and lots of hair, tinsel, and flash make this a deadly bait.
Moving to soft plastics, vertical jigging baits, often with a tail-spinner, are perfect for knocking fish right on the nose, especially in current.
A giant Tube can be used weighted or unweighted making them the ultimate in casting lures.
Big swimbaits are perfect for casting and believe it or not, trolling.
And finally, a huge chunk of colorful plastic, with all kinds of crazy legs, cast out on heavy gear, will often get the job done when nothing else will.
“IF”, there is a better Muskie fishing destination in the world than the province of Ontario, we’d appreciate getting the info, as we’d love to test that water.
Until then, we’re gonna stick with the big O and keep the odds in our favor.
Remember everybody, as we’ve said over and over during our current 2020/2021 television season, be smart, be vigilant, be safe & barring any travel restrictions, go catch a giant Muskie!
WANNA KNOW WHERE THE GUYS CAUGHT EM’?
Here are some Hotspots/Locations to look into:
Upper French River:
St Lawrence River:
Ottawa River Muskie guide John Anderson is one of the nation’s top experts when it comes to fishing/guiding/targeting Canada’s #1 freshwater predator. Check out the following interview to hear more…
Check out this piece on Monophase Muskie:
Some of the coolest info on Muskie spawning habits:
Canadian vs. American Muskie & Handling of Muskie