Musky - Go Shallow or Deep?

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Sam Ubl
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Musky - Go Shallow or Deep?

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:21 am

Muskies, especially the big girls, seem to prefer deeper reefs rimmed by shelves that decline even deeper into the main basin and there are reasons for that, like lower dissolved oxygen levels and relative water temperatures.

Additionally, musky prefer migrating forage species that lack spiny fins, like Cisco, Whitefish and Suckers. Cisco and Whitefish in particular, if they inhabit the lake or lakes you fish, require very specific dissolved oxygen levels that coincide with cooler water temps found at greater depths, and where they go, usually the muskies won’t be far behind. Look for thermoclines and take note, they will be in one of three places: 1) On the thermocline, 2) Between the thermocline and surface, or 3) just under the surface - even in 90' of water!

Often times, when these deeper basin dwelling muskies feed, they will move up onto shallower reefs where the water is warmer to increase their metabolic rate, ultimately aiding them in the digestion of their meal and leaving them sluggish, but that doesn’t mean they won’t eat again. It also doesn't limit the shallows to merely the basin dwellers who are digesting some chow.

Different conditions draw fish shallow, while others remain deep. Take a windy day when a Northwest wind has been pounding the SE shore for days. Chances are, the active shallow feeders are going to be hunting aggressively along that SE shore and weed edge. Wind blown shorelines mean more below the water than the rollers you see on top. Below the surface, sediment and weeds are stirred up and life is awakened. The food supply of baitfish (i.e. floating plankton) also gets moved her and those little critters stack up to take advantage - so do the gamefish, especially musky.

Bare in mind, however, that this windblown shore will also be warmer because all the surface water is getting pushed here. Remember, warmer water means an increase in metabolic rates for game fish, so you'll have action, but some may be low, slow and lazy follows that frustrate you to no end, but others may be active eaters migrating in and out to feed.

Coincidentally, if you're pounding out that SE shore and need a change of scenery, check out the basin and fish high. Return flows from the colder, deeper water below that's replacing the surface water may bring baitfish higher in the water column - where there are baitfish, there are musky. It's not uncommon at all for me to be fishing in the upper 10 feet in depths of 40 - 90 feet.


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Sam Ubl
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Re: Musky - When wind is a Factor - Shallow vs Deep

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:39 am

Another thing to bare in mind is that a wind blown shoreline, especially a sever one, means more "noise" under the water. Sensation is said to be the muskies most effective tool for hunting down prey, so if there are distractions like waves banging the shoreline and all the sticks, etc that are pounding and rolling in and out on the shoreline, use that to your advantage.

You know there are fish here, now it's a matter of getting their attention. Color and Noise! Be selective with your color options, and choose a bait that makes some noise. Jointed baits, especially with a wide profile like the jointed Believer, are like radar beacons to fish in clouded up and water because their so loud and displace so much water. Big blades also displace a lot of water and definitely are known for their crazy vibration calling power.
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