By: Spence Petros
By my own experiences, and talking to others, musky fishing in Ontario was a little below average, probably due to the extremely high water conditions. On my annual trip to Eagle Lake, high water was both a good and bad thing. Higher water in the bays and over shallower water rock piles was a good for walleyes, pike and muskies, but it hurt me a little trying to find favorite deep water rock piles for muskies that usually had a section or two that stuck a couple to 18-inches above the surface. With the higher than normal waters, I wasn’t able to find several of my favorite big fish spots, and I didn’t want to risk getting too close and driving over the top of them. Still, I managed to put 9 in the boat, including a very fat 48-incher, and a 51 1⁄4-incher. The bad news was I caught both these fish a day I fished alone and had nobody to take any good photos. I took a couple of photos, one with the 48 on the measuring board, and the 51 in the water. If you stop by the North Shore booth at the All Canada show, they will have the photos in the booth. I will be going back to Eagle a little later in 2015 (August 1-8).
If you ever think of going to Eagle, walleye action can be great anytime. Earlier in the year, more walleye tend to be in the bay areas, where Little Joe spinners and minnows slow trolled are deadly, as is jigging the weeds with a light weight jig and minnow. As summer progresses, more fish move to the deeper rocks, but some are just about always in the weeds. The flatter weedy areas can be good for muskies anytime, but the deeper water in the main lake gets better as the season progresses, especially for bigger fish. Just about all the 50-plus inchers I’ve caught there through the years have come within 3 to 15-minute drive from North Shore. Eagle has produced more big muskies for me than any other lake.
If you fish Eagle, bucktails are usually the number 1 lure. I like black with a silver blade, black with a shiny copper blade, and perch pattern with a copper blade (especially in stained waters).
I favor Bucher’s Mag. Tinsel Tails, but Cow Girls are also a top choice. I usually toss double 10 blades, but smaller blades (7 T0 9’s) can be fished if you can’t handle the bigger lures all day. The next lure type that’s a must is a top water. If there is a better one than Bucher’s Top Raider, I’ve yet to find it. Black or Frog pattern are my favorites. A minnow-type crankbait is also a must for both casting and trolling. I’ll troll often on windy days when casting is tough, to fish long edges that would take a lot of time to cast, and to give my old body a break. For 5-feet of water or less, a Shallow Invader is my favorite. For waters deeper, Bucher Shallow Raider, Grandma’s and Jakes are hard to beat. I’ll always have an all black 9-inch Suick on hand, plus some soft plastics. Soft plastics such as Bulldogs, Red October Tubes (10-12-inch), and Medusa’s are often tossed back to following fish, or when returning to a spot where a big musky previously showed up.
I also went to Lake of the Woods at the tail end of August and early September. On the first part of the trip I fished with Chris Taurisano, who guides on “the chain” and in southern Wisconsin.
We boated 14 muskies with the two biggest being 48 and 49-inches. Chris is a master at working the Crane crankbait and made me a real believer in its effectiveness. We had a lot of rain and ended up drenched by the end of the day several times. I stayed up and met two other friends who came up, Dan Kuesis and Dave Flores. We got 13 up to a 48-incher, with bucktails being the most productive lure. I tossed the Crane bait quite a bit but didn’t stir up the amount of fish Chris did. I would pretty much use the same types of lures on Lake of the Woods as I’d use on Eagle, but throw a couple Crane baits into the mix if you can find any. Also on L.O.TW’s. I’d tend to try a little more gaudy color patterns, in addition to what I recommended for Eagle. I didn’t do my annual fall musky trolling trip to L.O.T.W’s, because I went to Louisiana instead. I’ll probably go next fall to the “woods” and go to Louisiana a week or two earlier.
Since where I fish on Eagle has clearer water than where I fish on the Woods, wind is often more of a factor when fishing Eagle, unless it’s just before dark or very early in the morning before the light penetrates the water. Another key on these lakes is to return to where you saw the biggest fish of the day. The best time to re-fish the spot is right before dark, but a short visit can be made when there is a change in light intensity caused by increased wind or more cloud cover. Don’t beat the spot to death! Too many casts and commotion will cause the fish to move out or you will “educate it”.
The Big Sport Show at Rosemont
This year’s show in Rosemont (Jan. 21-25) will be bigger and better than it’s been in years, plus the other show in Schamburg has moved its date so they don’t conflict. The show features a number of bass pro’s including Mike Iaconelli and Johathon Van Dam. Their lineup of local experts such as Eric Haataja, Bob Mehsikomer, Mike Mladenik, myself and others will help you catch fish on waters in this Area. I’ve got some real good new info on using double rigs for panfish, and will let you in on the strategies that helped me break all personal records on bass last year on Delavan and Geneva. You don’t want to miss whatever Eric Haataja has to say. He is the best angler I’ve fished with in a long time and a terrific person!
The show has a number of deals. Reduced rates for seniors, military, police, fire fighters…deals and a free subscriptions to Field and Stream if tickets are bought online. I have a link to the show on my website. Just go to www.spencepetros.com and link up to it.
During the last year I’ve been to Venice, Louisiana three times and hope to get there more in 2015. It is the best fishing I’ve ever seen, and you can bring A LOT OF FISH HOME. I never cared much for tuna, but I never had good tuna steaks, pretty much that canned junk. They are fantastic, as are the snapper, grouper, trout, redfish, and the other species we bring home. I talked to a several groups of anglers where I would round out their party of 3 or 4.
Check out our results on my website under the “guiding” section. As soon as I get the date the filming I did with Winkelman on Geneva will air on TV, I’ll get it out in the newsletter. We got about 80 bass during the two day shoot, which was a little below what I was getting at the time. But filming a TV show is not as effective as regular fishing, due to the distractions. But we had fun doing dropshotting, something Babe hadn’t done before.
Something I’m Proud of
My grandson plays Pop Warner football in Hoffman Estates. His team won the Illinois
Championship, then the Mid-West Championship, then had to go to the ESPN complex in Florida with seven other regional champs to play for their “Super Bowl”. In the first game they beat the number one seeded team 18 to 12, then slaughtered the next team. I flew down for the big game which they won 18 to 0. Quite a thrill for my grandson Spencer, and grandpa. Not only is he a good football player, he is the only one on his team that qualified for a scholarship. You have to have at least a 96 average in school. I don’t know where he got that from! Stop by and say hi at the spot show. I miss a lot of guys from the classes.
Have a Great Winter Season!