Huskie Muskie Leaders is wholly owned by Bill Fuller, and is located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
As a member of Muskies Canada, Bill is a firm believer of catch and release. The way we handle muskies and the equipment we use are important in ensuring live releases. As a result, He had come to realize that good strong leaders are as essential as a good landing net and the proper tools for releasing a fish once caught. We pay good money for our lures and do not leave them on an underwater obstruction, or heaven forbid in the mouth of a Muskie, because the weak link was a leader.
About ten years ago He was unable to find any quality leaders in the Ottawa area. As a result He began researching and experimenting with different materials and leader building methods. Most of the really good information He found was on various salt water sites, written by those who were fishing for game much larger than muskies His general conclusion was, that if these materials and building methods could stand up to battles with some of the largest fish to be found in the sea, they would stand up to the rigors of fighting and landing muskies.
Bill started with trolling leaders using hard mono but after He discovered the ANDE fluorocarbon, He never went back. He learned that crimping, done properly, was every bit as strong as knots if not stronger, but more importantly, it would provide strong loops more consistently than knots, especially with this thickness of fluorocarbon material. He also learned the importance of loop protectors and how they really reduce the strain on loops. From there He expanded his building to single strand stainless steel. Over a period of several years, of building, testing, giving leaders away to friends for second opinions and receiving lots of good advice in return, some of them convinced him to make them available commercially.
The methods and materials that go into Huskie Muskie Leaders are not unique. They have been adapted from a variety of sources and in turn my designs have been copied by others.
Bill and Exist to Fish Canada believe is that Huskie Muskie Leaders have incorporated the best of materials with a melding of the best methodologies to produce the most Muskie friendly leaders on the market today. We invite you to visit or contact one of his dealers to see for yourself to see how good they really are.
Whenever you get two or more Muskie addicts together, you will get two or more opinions about anything to do with our sport. The use of leaders is no exception. We have knots vs crimps, stainless steel vs titanium, snaps vs split rings and on and on and on. The intent of this page is to provide a basic primer on leaders, their use, and the materials used to make them. The contents are based on extensive research, the experience of those who have been using Huskie Muskie Leaders for a number of years now.
First of all, is there one leader that will do it all? Not really. That said, some people do get away with it and for those that are using only one or two rod and reel combinations, it simply isn’t convenient to be constantly changing leaders and compromises need to be reached. For example, the Huskie Muskie fluorocarbon casting leader can be use for jerkbaits but is not as good as a single strand stainless steel leader. Where possible, and if your equipment allows, application specific leaders should be used to get the most out of your lures.
There are several reasons we use leaders. Perhaps the major reason is to prevent line from being cut by a Muskie’s teeth or by underwater obstructions such as rocks. Although the tensile strength of modern fishing line may be as high as the leader material we are be using, it is not very abrasion resistant and under strain can easily be cut by an edge that is even moderately sharp. Therefore we need something between the line and the lure where all the abuse is going to be absorbed. Leaders are made of materials that are much more abrasion resistant than line and will stand up to more contact with sharp objects.
The second reason for using leaders is to present the lure in the most natural way possible. This is especially true with the use of fluorocarbon leaders. The refraction index of fluorocarbon is virtually the same as water making it almost invisible under water. Therefore it separates the lure from line and makes it appear to be swimming free. The clearer the water, the more important this factor is.
The third reason is specific to the use of guide type jerk baits and walk-the-dog type top-waters. In this application the leader pushes the line away from the bait to prevent fouling. The resistance of the leader through the water will also tend to make it move in the opposite direction of the movement of the lure so that on the next jerk, the lure will move back across in its zig-zag path back to the boat. Although this is possible with a more flexible leader, the stiff single strand leader will exaggerate the action.
The last, and one of the most important reasons, deals primarily with trolling. Shortly after a muskie strikes and before the rod is out of the holder, muskies in their initial effort to free themselves, will often roll in the line. If you are using one of the newer spectra fibre braided lines, wire line or even a long wire leader, this rolling action can cause serious cuts to the body of the Muskie. To prevent this from happening, a thicker, softer, high tensile strength hard monofilament or fluorocarbon leader should be used. For this reason, my fluorocarbon leaders are constructed with a heavier 150 pound strength and corresponding thickness.
If you are just starting out or have been fishing for muskies and Northern Pike as well as taking a trip down south or live on oceanic waters where leaders are mandatory for the fish you are pursuing I highly recommend Huskie Musky Leaders. For years there is always one discussion that arises when talking to fellow anglers and that is choices in leaders and what do you use.
Huskie Musky Leaders
Fluorocarbon and steel
Huskie Muskie stainless steel jerk bait leaders are constructed of Malin stainless wire, an industry leader. The leader material is purchased directly from the factory, precut, unlike many other brands where the material is purchased in coils and then subjected to addition weakening stresses in the process of trying to straighten it out.
the new glide bait leader, which is essentially the jerk bait leader with out the swivel and snap. We still use the same wire and shrink wrap the wraps to reduce weed fouling. To use the glide bait leader, tie the line directly to end of the leader and attach the lure using a split ring. For safety, do not use the same split ring for all of your glide baits. The attaching and removal processes will weaken the split ring. Instead, attach a separate split ring to each lure.
These leaders feature 180 lb Single Strand Malin Stainless Steel Wire, #5 Stringease Stay-lok Snap, and 143 lb ball bearing swivel.
We also take the time to shrink wrap the wire wraps to reduce weed fouling. The snap is also shrink wrapped to ensure alignment of the snap and leader which is essential for the proper side to side action of glide type jerk baits walk the dog top waters.
Huskie Musky Leaders is a local to Ontario Company based in the Ottawa area that focuses solely on making leaders. Meticulously hand assembled and crimped using the highest grade components, these leaders are at the top of the industry and come highly recommended. Heading to Pro Tackle here in Belleville Ontario, in search for my first Muskie set up years ago I discovered Huskie Muskie Leaders which were highly recommend by store owner and avid Muskie fisherman and guide Stacy Ash. After experiencing multiple attacks and seeing the durability of Bill Fuller’s Huskie Musky Leaders I have never looked back.
Rating (10 being highest )
All of Huskie Muskies fluorocarbon leaders are made from 150 lb ANDE Fluorocarbon Leader Material. Although not well branded as a freshwater line, ANDE is well known in the saltwater community, has always stood up under every conceivable fishing condition and situation and holds over 1,300 IGFA World Records. Many of these records represent outstanding catches throughout the history of IGFA. All Fluorocarbons are not equal. ANDE is 100% Fluorocarbon with all the properties you expect from Fluorocarbon Leader material, strong abrasion resistance, low stretch, doesn’t absorb water, sinks quickly and is totally invisible under water.
Fluorocarbon leaders are constructed to provide a loop which is the strongest in the industry. For this thickness of fluorocarbon, experience has shown that crimps provide the strongest connection. Single crimps are used on the casting leaders and doubles on the trolling leaders. We start by melting the end of the fluorocarbon to form a ball which in itself makes it nearly impossible to pull the leader end though the crimp even before the crimp is squeezed. A plastic coated steel spring loop protector is used to prevent the snap or swivel from chaffing against the fluorocarbon in the loop, thereby greatly increasing the life of the leader. Concern has been expressed by some that the colored loop protector might turn off a Muskie but this has certainly not been a problem, if anything the loop protectors mimic the small bait fish that are being chased by a larger fish represented by the lure.
Another area of concern that needs to be dispelled is the use of crimps. No doubt you have all heard various Muskie enthusiasts say “I don’t trust crimps”. They have all probably had an experience with a poorly crimped leader or more commonly, used a leader that was too thin for crimping and where a knot would be superior. Personally, I would not use a crimp on any fluorocarbon material under 130 pound test. Huskie Muskie leaders are all made with 150 pound test and the crimps provide a superior connection than a knot. Crimped leaders are the leaders of choice for salt water applications for fish species that are quite a bit bigger and fight harder than muskies. Enough said.
Unweighted Trolling Leaders
Unweighted Trolling Leaders come in two lengths, the standard 3 foot and the 6 foot St Lawrence Special. Both feature the Ande Fluorocarbon Material, #6 Stringease Stay-lok Snap, 175 lb ball bearing swivel, Coil Spring Loop Protectors and are double crimped for added strength. Many of our customers report being able to get an entire season from one leader if care is taken to change out the snap when it shows signs of weakness.
Casting Leaders combine the strength and durability of the fluorocarbon with enough flexibility to be used for casting bucktails and spinner baits, yet is stiff enough for walking the dog with jerk baits and top waters. This is the best leader for throwing those heavy Bull Dawgs. A great dual purpose leader which feature 1 foot of Ande Fluorocarbon Material, #5 Stringease Stay-lok Snap, 143 lb ball bearing swivel, and Coil Spring Loop Protectors. Recently, some of our dealers have requested lengths of 14 and 18 inches. Special orders of this nature are never turned down.
Having confidence and not worrying about your terminal tackle is one of the key factors in being successful while in pursuit of these toothy critters. Nothing hurts an angler more than losing a fish of a life time due to terminal tackle failing. Huskie Musky leaders come in a variety of selections such as Fluorocarbon and stainless steel in different lengths for different applications.
Ease of Use(1-5)
Quality of Action (1-5)
Rating (10 being highest )
The fluorocarbon material used is 150lb ANDE a salt water grade material that is tough as hell and made to take the abuse of larger teeth barring fish. Husky Musky Leaders cater to their customers by providing a 3ft and 6ft fluorocarbon leader for trolling purposes paired with a 175lb barrel swivel and a heavy duty #6 Stringease Stay Loc snap suitable for all sizes of trolling baits which come in handy during the fall season. The casting version of this leader comes in a 12 inch version and can also be found in the 14-18 inch length if desired and come equipped with a 143lb barrel swivel and #5 Stay Loc snap. The stainless steel jerk bait leaders feature 180lb single strain main stainless steel wire paired with a #5 Stringease stay loc snap and a 143lb ball bearing swivel ideal for your walk the dog surface baits and all other jerk baits.
Range of sizes (1-5)
Rating (10 being highest )
(Huskie Musky Leaders) Collective Final Rating
Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = MUST HAVE
These leaders helps enhance the action of your lure and adding confidence to the angler while fishing for toothy critters. As the fall fishing is underway I highly recommend these leaders to all anglers who pursue Muskie, Northern Pike and all fish where a bite guard is needed.
Fall Muskie fishing is my favorite time of the year. Chasing giants in cold water paired with some of the most extreme conditions can be oh so rewarding.
That being said the fall season is generally the time to put away the fast action reaction type baits and transition to the big slow moving targets. For most that means big hunks of rubber upwards of 1 lb in weight and 20” in length. Or trolling large crankbaits over deep water. That is after all what tends to produce results this time of year, and that is what the Muskie elders have instructed us to do. I too have fallen into this mindset during the cold water period, but something happened this past weekend that reminded me of a few techniques I have had success with and have changed my perspective.
This weekend’s trip started out as most do in the fall. Water temps in the high 40’s and large profile, slow moving baits latched on in hopes of a giant fall Muskie. I found myself fishing with two very old friends, one of which also happens to be a Muskie nut. The other.. Not so much.
Not 10 mins into the trip I moved a BIG fish on my Beaver. She was hot in pursuit, gills flaring fins wriggling.. Looking like a taker only to slowly saunter off at the last second as she approached the boat. Not two casts later she did the exact same thing only to hang directly below the boat giving us a really good look at her before she swam back to the depths. My tried and true methods seemed to be attracting the interest one would expect this time of year and as such I stuck with it and was rewarded later on during the trip.
After moving that fish we decided to give her a rest in hopes that she would eat during our next pass of the area. We moved off and over to a bay adjacent to the deeper water we had been fishing and began working the deep weed line that it offered. My good friend Devin decided to join in the Muskie fun and picked up one of my setups only to latch on an inline bucktail. “I know, I know” he exclaimed. “I’m not going to catch them with this right now, but they are just so much easier to cast”. We all had a good laugh at his honesty, but were happy to see him fishing Muskies alongside us. Not 5 casts in! A very healthy fish came roaring off the weedline and crushed his bait. For some reason, unknown to myself, this fish was whiling to chase down and aggressively strike this “summer season” bait.
I was shocked! And felt a little silly having teased him initially for his bait choice. But as I reflect back to my earlier days of Muskie fishing I can recall catching fish, late in the season, on flashy bucktails and spinnerbaits as well. This was not only an eye opener, but a reminder to myself that we never really have these fish completely figured out. Yes they will regularly eat large slow moving offerings during the fall season. But it is important to impart other techniques, some less conventional, when the fish don’t seem to cooperate. Bucktails on deep weedlines may just be the difference.
This reminded me of another not so typical bait/technique that I have been using of late. During the fall period that is. A Spinnerbait!. I know I know! Not really something I should be throwing in the fall! But as I was reminded earlier, something different can be good! Really good!
My spinnerbait of choice is a Tandem Nutbuster. This bait is produced by a company called Llungen Lures. Llungen Lures L.L.C is a family & veteran owned fishing tackle manufacturing and distribution company based out of Southern Illinois. The company is operated by three partners; Chris & Cari Piha along with longtime friend Matt Gunkel. All three play an integral role in the day to operations and distribution of fine Muskie fishing tackle.
The Tandem Nutbuster is, in my opinion, one of the finest Essox spinnerbaits available on the market today. Its unique Colorado and Willow tandem system add to diversity of this premium bait. Designed for a multitude of applications, it can be fished at slow, medium, or high speed retrieves. It refuses to “roll out” cast after cast. From grinding through cabbage, to dragging through rocks, to bumping through timber. I have yet to find another spinnerbait on the market that is as versatile or effective.
My approach with this bait during the cold water period is often a slow roll, as one would expect. But something I have really started to have success with involves allowing the bait to settle on bottom, and dragging it with a moderate to fast retrieve along the bottom. Grinding through soft bottom creating a good cloud of silt and activity during the process. Not to mention the noise the bait makes from the thumping blades. I came across this technique rather accidentally. I made a long bomb cast only to blow up my reel (professional overrun). While I pulled the birds nest from my spool the bait fluttered to the bottom. Assuming the cast was dead I began to crank the bait in at a good clip. Dragging through the soft bottom, and deflecting off of rocks when I was greeted by a heavy strike! Initially I thought I had hung the bait up on bottom until the headshakes began. This was a Muskie! And a good one at that! Pattern established!! The commotion and banging around on the bottom combined with the rhythmic thumping of the blades had triggered this fish to strike! Who knew! I was fishing the spinnerbaits in a manner that nobody to my knowledge does. Like a crankbait! Like a deep diving crankbait. And the fish react to this very very well!
Here is the skinny.. Make your long bomb cast, count the bait down (approx 2’ per second). Once the bait has made contact with the bottom begin your retrieve ensuring that the bait remains in contact with the bottom with the rod tip down pointing towards the water. It will feel like you are dragging it. And in essence you are. Most of my strikes occur when the bait deflects off of something. A rock, or a piece of timber. Or when I rip it free from a clump of weeds. This is far from conventional. But different can be good! Really good!
During your next fall outing try fishing your big spinnerbaits along the bottom like you would a deep diving crankbait. The results speak for themselves!
ALL OF THE FISH IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHAS NORTHUMBERLAND REGION OF ONTARIO! COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!
The angling opportunities available year round are simply astounding. The fall is a special time of year, however, and the scenery is simply breathtaking. With so many fishing destinations with over 350 lakes and rivers to choose from, here are my Top 5 Fall MUST fish locations.
Put your canoe or aluminum boat in Eels Creek off Northeys Bay Road and head north to the High Falls. The scenery is breathtaking and the fishing is top notch as well! Bring your Muskie tackle because this stretch is chalk full of fish! Inline bucktail spinners and 6-8” crank baits imitating the cyprinid forage throughout the river will provide great success for anglers of all levels.
This little hideaway is tucked between Lower Buckhorn Lake and Stoney Lake. The beautiful rocky forested shorelines to please the victors eye. An often overlooked stretch of theTrent-Severn Waterwaythat is absolutely loaded with Bass, Muskie, Walleye, Crappie and several other panfish species. Bring your arsenal because this little beauty has trophy fish in all of the above mentioned species. Put your boat in at the launch directly across from theBurleigh Falls Innand joy the beautiful scenery this lake has to offer while catching your next Kawartha Legend.
Launch your boat in Kinmount and make your way up the river. If you have a small boat or canoe, walk it down below the dam in Kinmount and make your way down stream. Be prepared to portage a few narrow sections of the river along the way, but all the effort is well worth it. Not only is the scenery absolutely majestic but several fish species reside within the river and are seemingly always whiling to bite! Walleye, Large and Smallmouth Bass as well as Muskies abound, in high numbers and really great sizes! Your arms will be sore from reeling in fish!
Launch your boat at the public launch directly adjacent toViamede Resortat the end of Mount Julian Viamede Road and let the adventure begin. Known as one of the most prestigious lakes in the region, Stoney offers some of the most picturesque landscape in the world! Not only is it an absolute pleasure to view but the lake also boasts a very healthy fishery! The Bass, Walleye and Muskie populations are VERY good! Chris just recently fished a tournament event on the lake and over the course of the three days, Chris and his tournament partner landed over 300 Smallmouth Bass!
Launch your boat at the end of Mile of Memories Lane. Be sure to keep an eye open for wildlife on the way in as there are often deer grazing in the fields or wild turkey running about. This hidden gem of a lake is absolutely loaded with good sized Pike and the occasional monster Muskie. The bass fishing, both largemouth and smallmouth, is phenomenal. And did I mention the Walleye population is just ridiculous? Located near Havelock, Ontario with travel times into town being 15-25 minutes on average. Travel time to the Greater Toronto Area is within 2 hours making this lake a very popular spot for those escaping the city for vacation rentals even during the off season! The size of Belmont Lake is 1872 acres with a maximum depth of 51 feet and mean depth of 20 feet. Belmont Lake is part of the Crowe River system, the Crowe (Deer River) enters the lake at the north from Cordova Lake, the North River enters from Round Lake and then exits as the Crowe River to the east heading into Crowe Lake. Just a beautiful little lake that offers some of the best fishing in the region! Shhhh… don’t tell anyone! For a great stop after a day of fishing, take a trip up to the north end of the lake and visitBelmont Lake Brewery. They’re a small craft brewery open on weekends. And always boat and drive responsibly!
I have been targeting Muskies for as long as I can remember. During the early years my typical approach was not much different from many other anglers today. I placed a great deal of emphasis on speed and flash to catch the majority of my fish. Bucktails,spinnerbaits and hard jerk baits. Very common in our Muskie tackle world, and they undoubtedly produce results on a regular basis. What else do you need, right?
I am a born and raised Kawartha’s Northumberland region native. I target just about everything that swims in this area, and in doing so, I have come across a few techniques and baits that were not intended to be used for certain species, but are extremely effective in catching them. I love to catch Smallmouth Bass. They are, in my opinion one of the most powerful freshwater fish on the planet. While targeting Smallies, I spend a good portion of my time dragging baits on the bottom. In a lot of instances the bait of choice is a tube. While a Tube has been a very effective bait for many of us while targeting Smallmouth, I catch an alarming amount of Muskies fishing them in this manner as well! So many, that it became quite clear to me that this was an approach that was not only unique, in that most were not catching Muskies this way, but extremely effective in producing numbers and quality fish!
During this period there were really no options on the market that offered a Muskie sized version of my bass tubes. Or at least I was unable to locate any manufacturers producing them. In the spring of 2011 I discovered Water Wolf Lures, an Ontario based business specializing in Muskie sized soft plastic baits. While browsing their website I found exactly what I had been looking for. A Muskie sized soft plastic tube. Ranging in sizes from 5-13”!! Needless to say I placed an order immediately as I knew the potential they had in the waters I fished.
I catch a great deal of my “Tube fish” in or adjacent to current. Water Wolf Lures also manufactures all of the necessary rigging for their baits including the perfect tube jig head for these bad boys. When fishing bottom, like I would for smallmouth, I target the same areas and bottom type when targeting Muskies with these larger profile tubes. Hard bottom is key. Hard bottom in or adjacent to current, paired with a weed line edge and deep water nearby = Muskies. Big Muskies. I will fan cast these upstream and hop them back along the bottom, much like I would power fishing a tube for smallmouth. If the fish are not right in the current, I will cast to the current edges and do the exact same thing. The results are outstanding! Not entirely unexpected however! These baits produce fish in numbers and quality, and why wouldn’t they!? Very few baits are as versatile as a tube. I can fish it fast or slow. I can hop it or slowly drag it on the bottom. I can swim it back to the boat or vertically jig it. The applications are quite literally endless. And in my opinion, this is a bait that can be fished all year round.
When fishing bottom, I Like to rig a 5-9” tube. Rigged with a tube jig head. This is the exact replica to what I use when targeting smallies. Only much, much larger! The nose of the bait is extra thick to withstand the constant pounding along the bottom. I have had great results with this rig and use it regularly. In fact it is a mainstay in my arsenal all season long. This is a much underutilized approach, and something that really produces well for me. Especially in highly pressured waters with current.
Tubes are an extremely versatile bait. Not only can they be fished on the bottom and produce exceptional results, but they can be fished in the mid to upper range of the water column as well! Anyone that flips tubes for Largemouth Bass knows the effectiveness of a lightly weighted or unweighted tube offering on those fish. Well let me tell you, the same applies to Big Tubes for Big Muskies.
I first tried this approach shortly after discovering Water Wolf Lures, and ordered a handful to give them a try. Needless to say I was a little shocked at just how effective the baits/technique really was!
I like a really big profile bait and the 11″ to 13″ Magnum Gator Tubes set up with a light casting rig are the ticket. I simply cast the bait out, and work it back to the boat much like I would a suspending jerkbait. This technique is an absolute staple in my arsenal and dominant during the colder water periods. Late fall right through until close (mid Dec). I can catch fish on these all year round but really hammer them once the water is in the 60’s and below. The bait is very buoyant and that extra hang time between jerks is a big trigger for these fish to commit. And not only do they commit, they commit several times if necessary. I have had several instances where a fish would strike, I would set the hooks and endure several violent head shakes only to have the fish throw the bait, and within a few seconds come right back and eat it again!!! I am convinced that the softness of these baits has been the reason for this. The fish eat them like nothing else I have ever used. There is rarely any hesitation and they eat with intent. Some of my biggest fish have been taken on these baits, if your not using big tubes for Muskies you are simply missing out on some of the most exciting fishing of your life. The products are available and the technique is simple yet extremely effective.
Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed ! Big Tubes=Big Muskie
ALL FISH IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHA’S NORTHUMBERLAND REGION OF ONTARIO. COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!!
Fall fishing in the Kawartha’s Northumberland Region is one of my favorite times of the season. Not only is the fishing spectacular, but the sheer beauty and fall colors have made their appearance in full. The leaves have turned and begun to fall. The nights are cooler, the air is crisp and the fish are feeding up in preparation for winter.
For myself personally, this is the time to focus my efforts on trophy Muskies and Smallmouth Bass. These two species are without question my favorite target from mid-September right through to ice up. Why you might ask? Well the answer is this. Not only are they aggressively feeding during this time, but they are much more likely to be susceptible to simple angling techniques in areas that are much more obvious and easier to access. I keep my techniques very simple during this time and the results are always very good.
When targeting Smallmouth Bass from late September through November my approach is simple. During this period the fish within the region tend to school up on shallow rocky points extending out from the shoreline. Points close to deep water. Fall equals BIG smallies. Fish at this time of year feed heavily on crayfish and minnows in preparation for the cold winter months. I always start my search right on the bank in as little as a foot of water. Early morning “walk the dog” style topwater baits are a great option. I will fish them very slowly and in a color pattern resembling the local forage. In most cases white will do the trick. When the water is really starting to get 60°F or lower, nothing beats the steady cadence of a suspending jerk bait. I will allow for very long pauses between jerks to allow enough time for the fish to commit to the bait. The pause is the key. This is a great time for the shore angler to take advantage of some great accessible shallow water fish! Check out the “Fish From Shore” fishing locations on the Kawartha’s Northumberland website and catch the fish of a lifetime! Below are a few lake recommendations and examples of baits I suggest you try.
A White Jerkbait is a great minnow imitator. Remember to allow for long pauses between jerks to trigger strikes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your cadence though! The fish’s reaction will dictate the amount of time between twitches.
A walk the dog style topwater bait in shallow water first thing in the morning can be a great way to trigger big fish to strike. The same rule applies during this time of the year. Slow and steady wins the race.
When targeting Muskies from late September right through until Ice-Up, my approach is even more simplified. They are packing on pounds before winter as well and quite literally can be found in the same areas as the Smallmouth–Rock and/or weed points with close proximity to deep water. While I will shy away from top water presentations during this period, I will lean heavily towards a suspending/neutral buoyancy type bait that will allow me to impart a jerkbait type presentation triggering bites in the exact same manner as I would with the Smallmouth. It is during this period that I lean heavily on large profile soft plastic baits. Large swimbaits and water dwelling rodent imitators are a favorite for me as well as large Tube style baits that have been rigged weightless so that I can fish it in the upper portion of the water column instead of the bottom. Long pauses are key! Fish slowly and the fish will come. The Muskies within the region this time of year are feeding heavily! They are opportunistic, meaning no bait is too big. This is the time to increase in size and hang on for the fish of a lifetime! Below are a few lake recommendations and examples of baits I suggest you try.
A heavy leader is an absolute must and will ensure you land your fish of a lifetime. I prefer Fluorocarbon leaders made from only the finest and strongest components.
Large swimbaits slow rolled are a great local forage imitator and trigger big bites!
Water dwelling rodent type baits are exceptional this time of the year as they present a big meal to big opportunistic fish!
Large profile casting tubes are an absolute staple for me during the cold water periods. Fished like a jerkbait with grewat hang time and long pauses trigger some of my biggest bites of the year!
Late fall right through to ice up presents some of the greatest Muskie and Smallmouth bass fishing of the year in the Kawartha’s Northumberland region of Ontario. Your opportunity to truly catch a legend awaits right here. Come see for yourself!
Chris Huskilson- Exist To Fish Canada Writer
ALL FISH IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHAS NORTHUMBERLAND REGION OF ONTARIO! COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!!
August and September can be one of the best times of the year to catch BIG fish in the Kawartha’s Northumberland region. As we reach the end of August and the days start to shorten. The nights a little cooler and the leaves begin to change so does the trigger for our native fish species to feed! And feed a lot! Not only is everything seemingly hungry, but locations and patterns start to change as well. As the days shorten and temperatures reduce the aquatic vegetation follows suit and will start to deteriorate to the point where the fish will no longer use it as cover.
Largemouth bass in the region will now start to seek out what healthy green weeds remain. In most instances Milfoil is preferred. It provides a higher oxygen content creating a place for the panfish to hide which in turn attracts the Bass. Its root system holds the bottom in place, which holds phosphorus in place as well. It will also improve water clarity making it easier for the bass to ambush. The shallow water vegetation is the first to go and in most cases the healthy green weeds will be in deeper more stable water temperatures. 8-10′ is a depth I like to target when seeking out healthy vegetation that may hold Largemouth this time of year and the presence of bluegill and other panfish are a sure bet that you are in the right area. Once you find them they will be there in high numbers! Shallow water can still be a very productive option this time of year as well. Overhead cover is at a premium given the decaying plant matter. As the resident weeds die they will float to the surface creating matted clumps that will hold heat and panfish which will keep the bass in shallow as well. These fish are much more susceptible to temperature change this time of year if a sudden cold front or other weather pattern develops they will either vacate the shallows or developed a case of lock jaw.
Jerkbait- Twitch this along the edge of the green weeds you locate. The fish will dart out and strike!
Topwater Frog- Drag this over the matted vegetation! The shallow fish will be under it and cannot resist!
Spinnerbait- A steady retrieve over top of healthy weeds will generate strikes. A spinnerbait is a terrific option this time of year!
Flippin Jig- Dunk this right in the middle of the healthy green weeds and feel for weight! Set the hook hard and winch the fish out of the heavy cover.
The regions Smallmouth Bass population is on the move this time of year as well. They will begin their transition from deeper offshore structure to more accessible closer to shore haunts. Rocky points are very popular this time of year. They tend to really tighten up into schools. Instead of two or three fish together we often see 10 or more together. The same rule is true. Once you find them they will be present in numbers. Every fish I catch this time of year seems to have at least a half a dozen friends following it in as I land it. Some if my biggest Smallmouth of the season will be taken after Labor day in as little as 3-4 feet of water! Rock and sand points being my main target, but not to forget hard bottom healthy yet relatively shallow weed lines as well. The same rule applies however! If the vegetation is still green and baitfish or panfish are still present so will the Smallmouth be. Lake Recommendations:
Jerkbait- twitch this along the outside green weedlines and rocky points. Hang on because they will smash this!
Tube Jig- hopped and dragged along the bottom will entice a strike from a hungry smallmouth. Also a great follow up bait to drop to the fish that may be following the fish you are reeling in!
The Muskie bite during the fall transition can be absolutely lights out at well. The drop in water temperature is the que for these apex predators to put the feed on. This is not only the time to catch a lot of Muskies, but can also be the time to catch an absolute monster. They can be extremely aggressive in late August, early September. The forage they have been feeding on has grown throughout the season and as such the tackle I like to use will increase in size as well. Large soft plastic baits are a go to for many as the water temps start to fall into the 60’s. I like a bait that will allow me to impart a “stop and go” retrieve and has a fair bit of buoyancy so that it will hang suspended in the water column between jerks. That extra hang time is just what the Dr ordered for big Muskies this time of year. I have good success fishing fairly shallow weed line edges this time of year. Edges with relative proximity to deep water. Green weeds seem to be less of a factor ironically enough and my belief is that they simply need something for cover to ambush their forage whether the weeds are healthy or not. So don’t shy away from decaying vegetation just yet for these fish during the fall season.
Bulldawgs- a slow steady retrieve will often win the race with this big plastic. Don’t hesitate to impart a pull pause retrieve as well! Fish will often strike on the pause.
Large Swimbait- Swim this bait in current or over the tops of the weedlines. A very slow presentation that the fish really like this time of year.
On the flip side the regions Great Lake tributaries are on the cusp of exploding with the annual fall Chinook Salmon run. A drop in temperature and a good rain will trigger the “run” in full force, and what a blast these fish are to target and fight in shallow flowing water. There are a plethora of accessible locations to park and fish along some extremely product and renowned tributaries like the Ganaraska river flowing through port hope or the Wilmot in Newcastle. There are many bait and tackle shops along the way that are licensed to sell tied salmon roe that can be used under a float as bait. This is a very popular and productive method for catching these massive fish. They will stage in enormous schools at the mouths of these tributaries in waiting for the river conditions to suit their spawning requirements. They can be caught as early as mid-August at the mouths and right in to the tributaries as early as late August, early September. Light line and small hooks are imperative as these fish have very keen senses. A medium action 10-13′ Rod and large spooled spinning reel are also very helpful when fighting these long running, head shaking, high flying fish and will dramatically increase your odds of landing them.
Tied Roe bags- Drift these under a float or on a bottom bounce rig at the mouth of the tributaries and the upstream pools and wait for the float to drop!
Bead/egg imitators- Drift these under a float in clear pressured waters.
Fall fishing in the Kawartha’s Northumberland Region of Ontario is an opportunity for any angler to catch the fish of a lifetime from shore or boat all within an hour’s drive. The region is regarded as one of the greatest freshwater fisheries in the world. Your next trophy fish, A Kawartha’s Northumberland Legend, is waiting! Come see for yourself!