Chris Huskilson with a nice opening day Muskie taken on the Beaver
Muskie fishing is not for the faint of heart. It is not generally a numbers game and requires A LOTof time on the water to develop the knowledge and grit that it takes to wrangle these monsters with consistency. This is not something that is easily explained or described. I can still remember the first Muskie I ever caught! I was 12 years old. And although the fish was not big, the pure adrenaline rush and sense of accomplishment that I experienced during and after the battle changed me forever. They are such a majestic and unique predator. Fooling them takes skill. And putting them in the net takes talent.
Ryan Douglas Delahunt with a gorgeous fall monster taken on a Beaver. photo taken by Aaron Jolicoeur.
Today’s Muskie angler is far better equipped that yester years. The rods, reels, line and tackle options are endless. Not to mention new and productive techniques that have continually bettered our odds of success. We now handle and release the fish in a much safer manner as well. Respecting the resource through knowledge and in turn these beautiful monsters continue to thrive.
Over the years I have witnessed the development and success of many fantastic fish catching baits. Some of which were more of a novelty item than they were productive. It pains me to give this one away.. But I have come across a very unique bait that has once again changed my Muskie fishing world. And I am certain that the Muskie community as a whole will feel the same once they see and experience this thing in action.
During November 2015 I came across a very unique looking product that at first glance may be brushed off by some as a novelty item. Not something that would really put fish in the boat, but perhaps something that would look good hanging up in the trophy room. Well.. I am here to tell you that this bait is a BIG TIME producer. The Company is called Beaver’s Baits. And yes you guessed it. They make a Beaver imitation type lure that drives the Essox crazy!!
Beaver’s Baitsis a small business situated in Big Lake Minnesota. Owned and operated by a gentleman named Brian Boyum. Each bait is individually hand crafted by Brian and his team. And as such each is quite unique.
Brian took notice of a trend in the Muskie tackle market. That being most of the available baits resembled fish.. There were NOT many, if any at all, that represented an actual animal. Brian is a firm believer that Muskie and pike, mainly the larger ones, have at one point in their life, eaten muskrats, mink, squirrels ducks or any small animal that enters the water. They are after all opportunistic feeders.
photo courtesy of Sam Ecker
Photo courtesy of Sam Ecker
After some contemplation, He thought of a way to recreate the life like appearance of an animal swimming in the water.Once he had the bait completed he had to name it and since his nick name has been Beaver his whole life, he decided to name it after himself and that is how the Baby Beaver was born.
The Baby Beaver is a new unique musky bait that has exploded on the scene catching many muskies in all regions. It is a blend of deer hair, rubber paddle tail, and a solid head with a screw in weight insert option to give you better depth control. The Baby Beaver is 12″ in length and weighs 3.5 oz of pure musky catching attitude. The bait is constructed of plastic with .051 wire molded into each segmented body piece. Each segment is hand tied with deer hair and connected together with split rings. The rubber tail is molded onto the hook and is attached to the bait with a split ring making it replaceable.
Sam Ecker. Owner/Operator of Figure Ate Guide Service with a beautiful Beaver Muskie
In my opinion, based on my experiences with the bait, it can and does catch fish at any point during the season. The angler imparts the action to the bait, and it’s buoyancy is controlled by the weight system allowing me to fish it fast, slow, or somewhere in between. It has the same appeal and fishability of a flashy bucktail, a large soft plastic bait, a Muskie fly, and a jerkbait all in one. I make it do what I need it to do in each given situation as the fish require. It truly is an all in one weapon.
Ryan Douglas Delahunt with a THICK Beaver Muskie. Photo taken by Aaron Jolicoeur.
Here is the kicker for me. Not only can this bait be fished in several different manners from fast to slow and in between, but it is an absolute game changer when it comes to fish commitment in the figure 8. For myself personally that is. I have never seen anything trigger fish like this bait does. I have had several instances where a fish was lazily following 8-10’ back of the bait. Low and slow. Not really interested. But as soon as I start my figure 8 most seem to immediately engaged and eat. The fish really like these things! Don’t tell anyone 🙂
Author: Chris Huskilson
ALL OF THE FISH IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHA’S 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!!
Here we are, at the height of the fall transition when temperatures drop, nights are longer and lakes begin to turn over. This is truly the time of year you can run into some really large smallmouth, but where do you look and what do you throw at them?
Smallmouth can be fickle and very elusive during the fall. Some anglers use the old cliché to describe the search for these bronze bass as finding “a needle in a haystack”. Smallmouth will often travel in larger and often, tighter schools during this change in season which makes them more difficult to locate. But once located, what you find will inject a shot of adrenaline into your veins for sure.
One major change in smallmouth behavior during the fall is that they often become less dependent on crustaceans (crayfish) and are more apt to key in on baitfish. Depending where you are located, baitfish such as shad or shiners (or whatever the main forage is in your neck of the woods is) will school up and begin some sort of migration to stage upon potential spawning grounds, wintering spots and so on. Once this takes place smallmouth will in turn school up, thus stalking said baitfish. Something to note is that although baitfish are inevitably at their largest in size, they can still be easily digested which works out because as water temperatures drop rapidly, the metabolism of bass will slow down.
Now, obviously this seasonal change brings cold nights, which cools the haunts indicative of smallmouth bass so mornings will become a less productive time to chase them. As the sun heats up the high water columns along main breaklines, mid-depth sections of points and steep shoreline banks, you should gear up and get out there. If the body of water you are on is calm enough, look for busting/dimpling baitfish on the surface in these areas. You’re not always going to be able to spot them visually on the surface, which is when electronics are of utmost importance so pay close attention to your graph along with a GPS unit to better pinpoint the prime locations. Look for large, dark bait balls and pay even closer attention to larger arcs lurking below. One thing you may notice is a large dark school that forms a huge arc, visually similar to that of a single gamefish. This could be a school of bait mixed in with you guessed it, many big hungry smallmouth.
A good rule of thumb would be to search out smallmouth during the mid-day period on south/east facing spots with hard substrate such as rocks, gravel and sand, and lush green cover such as milfoil as these areas will be the first to heat up which will attract baitfish. At days end, I’ll move to north/west facing, shallow rocky points and banks adjacent to deep water as these areas will be the last to heat up and will hold warm water and baitfish. These spots will offer smallmouth the opportunity to feed heavily in close proximity to deep water. Poppers are the order of the day here. Erratic, walk the dog presentations mimic baitfish evading hungry bass and sunfish perfectly (and it is ridiculously fun watching surface explosions).
When it comes to mimicking baitfish, there are a few lure types you should never leave home without. During these daytime patterns discussed here I always lean on spinnerbaits when it comes to searching out, and triggering smallmouth. In clear water I will cycle through my collection of 1/2oz-5/8oz double willow spinnerbaits in natural colors such as gold/silver blades with a more subtle skirt color. In stained water I experiment with hammered finished colorado/willow blade combinations along with brighter more gaudy skirt colors such as chartreuse, charteuse/white or just white. The bright colors, along with the thump of the fatter blades will be more easily seen and felt by smallmouth. For this, I prefer a 6’6”-7’ heavy action spinnerbait specific baitcasting rod coupled with a 6.1-1 to 7.1-1 reel spooled with 17lb fluorocarbon line. Why such a fast 7.1-1 ratio you ask? In the fall I burn spinnerbaits frantically which triggers the most aggressive strikes of the entire season. And as these schools are hard to locate, covering as much water is the wise choice.
Thump is good, topwater action too but another fantastic presentation right now is the mighty and often forgotten lipless crankbait. The tight wobble coupled with the rattles and smart color selection can truly turn the mood from somber to ecstatic in a heartbeat. For this I count on the Kamooki Smartfish and Smartcraw which have a unique spiraling action in open water and the innate ability to stand on its nose like a floating worm or shaky head rig. These baits lend themselves to the fall hunt as versatility is the order of the day.
Next, I always have a selection of jerkbaits, especially when water temps drop below 58 degrees. Keep in mind that this is a visual presentation that is dependent on clear water so if the water is murky, I definitely stick with the thumping blades of a spinnerbait or the rattles of a lipless crankbait. Size and color selection will be determined by the forage base in the area you are located. I like a white, gold/black or black/silver body to mimic the predominate baitfish in my area, but a firetiger mimicking a perch in stained water, or a black/orange body will get it done. I usually lean towards suspending jerkbaits because long pauses, as the bait hangs helplessly in the balance, becomes the most visually tempting stimuli for cold water smallies.
Lake Fork Trophy Lures Magic Shad
I also like to compliment hard jerkbaits with a more subtle version such as a soft plastic, fluke style bait. For me, a 4-5” white/baitfish colored “Magic Shad” by Lake Fork Trophy Lures can’t be beat for finicky smallmouth. I like spinning rods for both applications. Braided line paired with fluorocarbon leaders for both with the only difference being longer leaders for hard jerkbaits (and a looser drag as well) allowing for more stretch/give which prevents treble hooks from being torn out. A new feather I’ve put in my cap is the use of a scent trail for neutral or negatively responding bass.
I always count on the Garlic Minnow scent by Liquid Mayhem when the visual sense of a smallmouth can’t solely be counted on.
Okay, I’m excited. Let’s turn off our computers and get on the hunt for these big bronze beasts. Just remember, finding smallmouth in the fall can be tough. Attention to detail, hard work and persistence can pay serious dividends. See you out there!
Jamie Wilson- Lead Writer/Editor Exist To Fish Canada
ALL FISH IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHA’S NORTHUMBERLAND REGION OF ONTARIO! COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!
As anglers we are very lucky to have super advanced modern technologies at our disposal, one such advancement definitely being fishing line. A fine example of this modern evolution is fluorocarbon coated copolymer (inner core) hybrid line. This marriage of materials in a fishing line gives us yet another choice, which exhibits key attributes and performance qualities found in both line types rolled into one. Recently, I had the opportunity to field test Lake Fork Trophy Lures Para Helium FluoroHybrid FH and I was not disappointed in its performance.
(Lake Fork Trophy Lures Para Helium FluoroHybrid FH) Specifications
Fluorocarbon/Copolymer (inner core) Hybrid
$18.99 US funds/10lb, price varies according to test strength
The key variables here are the properties of this line that sets this hybrid apart from monofilament, 100% fluorocarbon and strait copolymer. Having the castability of monofilament and the abrasion resistance of fluorocarbon while maintaining sensitivity, manageability and knot strength of copolymer makes for a well-rounded fishing line. Lake Fork Trophy Lures’ version has all of these attributes in equal parts. From its ultra-smooth castability and low stretch to its very sensitive feel coupled with very low memory and impeccable knot strength/durability, FluorHybrid FH Para Helium get top honors from me. Also, this line has low-vis properties as well which, I would assume is difficult to achieve in a copolymer inner core/fluoro coated line so top marks to the designers once again.
Durability/Knot Strength (1-5)
Rating (10 being highest )
Para Helium FluorHybrid FH is near perfect in both consistency and design/ergonomics as it performs very smoothly while maintaining the low-vis, light refraction of a fluorocarbon with very little line twists and memory which is indicative of copolymer lines. Well designed and engineered for sure. Also, the range of test strengths is fantastic with 5, 7, 10, 14, 20, 22, 25lb tests available.
Range of lb tests (1-5)
Rating (10 being highest )
This particular line type is very well rounded and has all of the design and performance qualities of both fluorocarbon and copolymer. For me, Lake Fork Trophy Lures Para Helium shines for reaction style baits such as crankbaits and jerkbaits. I trust its low memory, even as a mainline on a spinning reel which I wouldn’t normally do with fluorocarbon. (I would still favor a baitcasting reel) Also, I wouldn’t hesitate to actually use Para Helium as a leader material coupled with braided line for suspending baits as it does not sink like a pure fluorocarbon due to its copolymer inner core. The extra little stretch acts as a shock absorber while its fluorocarbon coating protects against potential damage from rocks, submerged timber and zebra/quagga muscles. If I was to use FluoroHybrid FH as a mainline, I would pair it with a fast action rod for light jigs/worms or a medium/fast rod for jerkbaits/crankbaits to maximize its performance.
(Lake Fork Trophy Lures FluoroHybrid FH)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
Long smooth accurate casts, sensitivity, superior knot strength coupled with its higher than normal manageability make Lake Fork Trophy Lures Para Helium FluoroHybrid FH a high-end addition to any anglers arsenal. I mean, the connection between you and your lure must be trustworthy and really, its overall performance should never be called into question. This line satisfies all of that for me. Para Helium also boasts smaller line diameter than its competitors while being packaged in a 240yrd spool. It is extremely limp, strong and manageable so no complaints here, good job to my friends from Lake Fork Trophy Lures.
Bottom bounced this lipless crankbait with 10lb Para Helium FlouroHybrid FH with obvious results
Jamie Wilson- Lead Writer/Editor Exist To Fish Canada
Well here we are. As I write this, the fall equinox is upon us as we wave goodbye to summer. It is a bittersweet time as we trade our shorts and flip flops for sweaters and jeans. That is the bitter, but what is sweet you ask? This transition into fall means that tributaries and staging grounds along the Great Lakes fill up with aggressive, mature Chinook Salmon.
The Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
The Chinook Salmon, otherwise known as Spring, King, Tyee and Quinnat are the largest species in the Pacific Salmon genus. These fish reach maturity in three to seven years and ultimately return to the very same areas in tributaries where they were hatched. The Chinook run/spawn takes place during fall between about mid-September to mid-November in a temperature range of approximately 10 to 3 degrees Celsius.
As Chinook begin this migration to their spawning grounds, they make a stop at what is described as “staging grounds”. Some examples include rocky piers and break walls adjacent to the tributaries and river mouths they will relate to and thus, run to spawn sites. This is a perfect opportunity to target them as they will be easy to find and predict and will be but a casting distance from urban shoreline structures and harbors near preferred habitat for procreation.
This is a fascinating time for any angler as giant Chinook are within reach for an, albeit short but very exciting period of time. If you have chased Chinook during this time period you know the staple presentations such as skein (eggs), spoons (my favorite being Little Cleo), jerkbaits and various flies. These are obvious choices that these fish see on a daily basis, so what really stands out? Lipless crankbaits/rattlebaits are truly an overlooked choice for sure. So let’s cultivate shall we?
President and founder of Kamooki Lures Ltd. Kam Sheikh certainly has some insights into this particular approach to targeting Chinook. You see, Kam cut his teeth chasing these fish along the rockyshorelines and breakwalls in and around the well-known Port Credit area with his father. Recently he returned to his beloved old stomping grounds with his childhood fishing buddy Darrell Smith and his, now famous, 3”-4” 1/2oz-1oz Kamooki Smartfish in tow. The results were nothing short of amazing.
Kam explains “Retrieves are usually quick and steady to keep the bait high in the water column, even at night”. This rings true to me as a quick steady retrieve can create an aggressive reaction bite as Salmon seem to be very competitive for forage.
As far as color selection goes, it is very simple. During daylight hours Kam favors the gaudy “Green Tiger” and the flashy yet neutral “Natural Shad”. Both can be very effective as “Green Tiger” mimics a variety of forage while “Natural Shad” represents one of the most prolific baitfish in the Great Lakes, in this case, Lake Ontario. Once dusk falls Kam snaps on a 4” “Glow Tiger” which was literally designed with Great Lakes Salmon in mind. Darrell Smith (pro guide) explains “It’s a pier fisherman’s dream and a Chinook’s worst nightmare. Big long casts, super loud rattles, all in an extremely snag resistant glow in the dark package”.
“Your gear selection is very important” Kam explains “Rod/reel/line combos should be both super tough, yet comfortable enough to cast and retrieve all day and night. Pier fishing can be rough on your line as rocks are abrasive so checking for frays is of the utmost importance. Better to find a fray than lose a fish”. He continues “On this trip my gear was a (baitcasting outfit) 10’ med/heavy Daiwa Heartland paired with a Shimano Calcutta 251 loaded with 20lb power Pro (braid). I also had my Dad’s 9’ heavy Eagle Claw spinning rod dressed with a Shimano Stradic 5000, also spooled with 20lb Power Pro”. One thing to note is that Kam tied the braided line directly to a heavy snap swivel without a fluorocarbon leader, which is something I have observed many times myself while walking the piers.
This style of fishing is what I describe as a simple pleasure. It is walking the banks with friends, old and new, your son, and maybe even the fond memories (of the good old days) when your greatest friend, your Dad, netted your first King along those rocky banks. A rod in hand, a backpack with a small assortment of rattlebaits, the inevitable sound of a screaming drag and the subsequent slaps of high five and loud hearty laughs. As Kam said “Get out there and get crankin’ as the run doesn’t last long”. Will do, my friend,
See you out there.
Jamie Wilson- Exist To Fish Canada Lead Writer Editor