56.5 incher caught! – Ontario Opener Tips – Big Giveaway
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We're wrappin' up the "Musky Opener" series this week with some fresh tips from our buddies north of the border.... the border that's currently locked down until July 21st. 😒
In other words, it's lookin' like the Canucks will have their muskies to themselves this weekend. Sucks for all the lodges, but fishing pressure will be at an all-time low for the locals. *shrug*
Enough doom & gloom, let's get to the tips!
There's way too much musky water to cover in one newsletter, so we're going to focus our efforts on a few of our favorites: LOTW, Eagle, Lac Seul and even some famous musky fisheries in the Montreal area.....
Lake of the Woods w/ Joe Cooper
It just feels right kicking things off with Lake of the Woods – here's guide Joe Cooper's advice for anyone lucky enough to get out on the Woods this weekend:
"Water temperature can vary quite a bit across the different sections of Lake of the Woods this time of year. Sitting down with a good map and looking for areas with a shallower basin will help you find the warmest water temps. In the areas I fish, temperatures will be in the mid 60s.
"The most productive spots this time of year are going to be the shallow bays filled with weeds. I prefer large weed beds in bays that are less than 10 feet deep, with the majority being less than 4 feet deep. The best bays have several different types of weeds.
"Although the weeds usually hold the highest number of fish early in the season, I am always a rock fisherman if conditions allow. Rock extensions and points near spawning bays are a great place to start, but I love finding fish on mid-lake reefs early in the season. There won't be a lot of fish on the reefs, but you can expect a great average size.
"If I’m fishing closer to the main basin I keep a close eye on my Livescope, looking for muskies deep. When I come across a fish still set up in deeper water, dropping a Red October Tube straight down on top of them almost always gets a bite.
"Overall, my early season lure selection is fairly simple, featuring small bucktails, small crankbaits, topwaters and dive-and-rise baits."
Thanks to Joe for the top-notch breakdown – now let's head over to Eagle Lake!
Eagle Lake w/ Steve Herbeck
Here's an earful of excellent info from legendary Eagle Lake guide Steve Herbeck (AML), starting with water temps:
"Water temperatures one week prior to opener on Eagle are running between 60-64 degrees on the larger clear sections and 64-68 in the shallower, darker sections – same with similar area lakes like the Indian Chain, Canyon, Cedar, Cliff, Wabigoon, LOTW, etc.
"If you are looking for action and consistency, search out the shallower or smaller, darker waters in the area. They will generally be the most consistent out of the gate, but if you're looking for what most come to Canada for, don't think the deep clear sections or the bigger lakes are just for late summer and fall fishing.
"Look for isolated bays connected to the main lake by channels or with incoming creeks from marshes or dark boggy areas. Northern bays with southern exposure and sandy beaches, shorelines with fallen timber, shallow rock bars and points (especially on warm sunny days with a bit of wind), and any amount of early weeds will suck fish in like a magnet in these types of lakes. Heat absorbing north rock walls leading out to a basin and connected to large shallow bays can be dynamite for big fish.
"One of my favorites for big early fish are shallow rock bars and clusters near and out from the mouth of bays and flats nearing deeper water."
We LOVE this next tip. We often overthink things as musky anglers, sometimes it's as simple as letting the easier-to-find gamefish lead the way:
"An overlooked pattern is watching what the walleye fishermen are doing. Where there are lots of walleyes heavily feeding, especially on flats with emerging grass and weeds, you’ll find the entire food chain. From bugs in the mud, minnows, perch, walleyes, suckers, and even whitefish, just about everything will make shallow movements into these areas. The muskies will be there, too."
Herbie gave us way, way too much good info to fit into the newsletter, so make sure to check out his full writeup on our website: Herbie's Eagle Lake Opener Tips
Lac Seul w/ Ben Beattie
Now we're going to check in with well-known guide Ben Beattie on Lac Seul:
"With the excitement of opener, comes the uncertainty of opener. Much like the high's and low's of any other day of muskie fishing, opening day can be boom-or-bust. The best thing you can do is approach it with the willingness to try anything and everything.
"Of course the biggest factor for finding muskies on opening day will be water temperature. This week leading up to opener has been HOT in northwest Ontario and surface temps are on the rise.
"My game plan on Saturday is to check some shallow water areas first. Have a look at temps and weed growth while slinging some search baits. If temps are 70+ degrees, I'll work pretty fast looking for an active fish.
"Plan B will be exploring transition areas - spots that separate the shallow bays from adjacent basins. Every bay has a couple points/shorelines where it opens up to bigger water. These transition zones can be huge.
"The wildcard is going to be fishing pure mid-summer basin structure. One opening weekend many years ago, my clients and I put a big skunk in the boat on Saturday fishing traditional 'opener' spots. On Sunday the first spot we fished was a big reef structure adjacent to 80 feet of water. We boated a 53.5 there, and that event has always stuck in my mind. You just never know where you'll find them."
Lac Seul is an enormous lake with a lot of cool water to fish, but hopefully this will help you narrow things down a bit – thanks Ben!
Montreal Area w/ Marc Thorpe
Last but not least, let's take a 20+ hour car right east to the St. Lawrence/Ottawa area (AKA: the land of Titanic-sized muskies) for a quick update from Marc Thorpe.
Here's where he's starting his search this weekend:
"You can expect to find fish near the spawning bays this weekend. Cast bucktails and twitch baits in shallow weed flat areas to find and catch muskies.
"Keep in mind, the fish will be roaming around and reacquainting themselves with their home ranges and favored potential usable feeding stations.
"With the muggy weather this week, the water temperatures should be in the upper 60's range. Being that this is our second heat wave, the fish could either be on the move, or they might be taking advantage of warm water areas to aid and accelerate their recovery from any fatigue they might have endured during the spawning process."
Well, that about wraps things up for the Canadian fishin' update for this weekend.
Special thanks to all the guides who chimed in with advice – now let's hope the Queen opens things up sooner rather than later! #FingersCrossed
– Jim Saric’s three keys to Ontario muskies (link)
– Vintage LOTW fishing w/ Ray Ostrom (video)
– Jeff Andersen on Figure 8’s and Instincts (video)
– Eagle River Spring Classic Results (link)
– Muskies Inc. provides $20k in conservation grants (link)
In case you missed it, we're giving away some sweet musky gear!
It only takes a few seconds and you could win $300+ worth of shtuff:
THIS WEEK'S MONSTER MUSKIES:
Enormous congrats to Emily Schneider on her first-ever musky, a 56.5-inch Fox River Megalodon! Safe to say this would be a good time to retire, cuz it's all downhill from here.... 😉
This open water double-nickel couldn't resist Alex McLean's "grey ghost" colored XL Beaver. He marked this Minnesota monster on the troll, then came back and drilled her on the second cast! #SearchAndDestroy
This big, obese Ontario bronzeback 'skie from Alex Boutin has more than a few meals in that sumo-sized belly!
Tanner Talbot caught this mean Minnesota musky fishin' main lake rock structures – and of course she bit on the major! #MoonUnderfoot
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