by Aaron Berg
A few years back I remember asking musky anglers the simple question, ” Where is the best place to catch a trophy in Wisconsin?”, and the answer most always was a Sawyer County lake. This part of the state has been made famous for big fish and lots of them, however there is a new gem in the state and many people have yet to figure out how to properly fish it. I am talking of course about the bay of Green Bay.
Green bay has slowely become the destination of musky hunters throughout the state and surrounding areas. It is a sprawling body of water that contains a great number of fish and some of the best trophy potential in the state. It is a healthy and well maintained fisherie that offers something for all types of anglers. Most people however concentrate on the area during late fall for the trolling bite, however they may be missing out on some of the best action this state has to offer.
About 3 years back I remeber recieving a phone call from a good friend from college asking me to take her out to catch her first musky. I had an opening on june 1st, the opener for great lakes muskies, and she jumped at the chance. We launched the boat in Sturgeon Bay and begun working Magic Makers over newly emerging weed beeds in some of the small bays. It didnt take long for the fish to react. After the first hour we had seen 13 fish, loosing two boat side. then like the flick of a switch boated back to back fish, a 37 on a glitter perch magic maker, and a 44 on a holoform glitter walleye. All it took was to slow down the retrieve.
In the clear waters of Sturgeon Bay the flash from the magic maker was driving the fish crazy however the quick action was causing us to miss fish and to poorly hook them, so we changed our retrive. Slow, long pulls of the rod were the ticket. As the baits glided out to the sides, a quick pause would trigger the strike, and then it was as simple as hold on for the ride.
As the year progressed i started to focus myself on deep rock bars that were holding the post spawn walleyes. The water temps were still quite cold, just reaching the 60 degree mark, and many of the muskies were starting to work their way into deeper water. The boulders were the first place i looked, and it payed off. First cast over a rock point i had a fish on, and to my suprise it ended up being a 28in walleye, so i upsized and threw on a blonde bombshell jake. Working it in a hit and run pattern, bouncing the lip off of boulders and pausing and letting it rise a few inches, I started to cover water, working in a circle around the rocks. There was no one else around us musky fishing and i was begining to recieve some interesting looks from the walleye fishermen trolling around me, then i noticed one of the walleye boats tossing back a small whitefish and immediatly threw on a hot whitefish double D. Two casts later we had a fish in the net.
Matching the muskies forage base on a body of water such as green bay can be a daunting task. They can be feeding on just about anything so it is important to watch the people around you and see what they are catching. Normally early in the year the muskies are lathargic and feed on spawning perch, and as the year goes on and water temps climb they begin to targic larger prey, such as the walleyes and whitefish that concentrate in deeper, cooler water.
Once mid summer hits, most of the other musky fisherman have deserted green bay and are focusing on lakes that are easier to cover and be sucessful on. I have found the best way to stay on muskies during mid summer is to break out the walleye gear and start trolling the 10-20ft flats searching for weed beds. This will help you locate not only weeds, but forage base, and the occasional dinner for yourself.
Having and knowing how to use and understand your electronics is a big part of open water casting for muskies. It is almost imposible to fish these types of areas without a gps or a chartplotter on your boat. I personally run a Humminbird chartplotter to keep track of the weedbeds and rock bars that i fish thourougt the year. Once you have found the areas you want to fish it is as simple as matching your baits with what the fish are in the mood for. Lathargic fish during mid day seem to be prone to hit baits such as the magic maker worked with a quick retrieve, or jakes twitched next to the deep weed edges.
Green Bay can be your best friend or your worst enemy in the musky fishing world. it is a difficult body of water to fish without knowing how to go about tackling it. You need to be able to locate baitfish, small predatory fish, cover, proper water temps, and an assortment of other variables to be successful, but when you line everything up, you will have a chance at the fish of a lifetime.