A real common question from muskie anglers is: “What do I do when I’ve located a big one?” Of course questions on triggering and wondering why figure eights didn’t work are common too. The hard thing for folks like me, is that there really are no certain answers. I’ve certainly never figured out how to catch ’em all. All that can honestly be offered for consumption – are things that have worked for us before at times. If you’ve located any muskie, and especially if so – a big one – you’ve accomplished quite a bit, actually.
And to be honest, some of the success that you are likely to experience later because of it, often, isn’t with the same fish you originally located. (It’s easy to learn not to let that bother you.) There is no doubt at all, that rumors of muskies strictly being loners is false. A good feeding area is a good feeding area – and they don’t necessarily take turns. It’s a good spot. When a big fish follows but doesn’t trigger, there are several things to try, and to a certain extent, it depends on the amount of fishing pressure on the water. A fish that followed and didn’t hit is tough to trigger. Each additional time it follows and doesn’t hit… it generally gets tougher.
I know of success stories from repeated badgering… not moving on at all… just continuing to cast at the same spot. It works sometimes, especially with fish located in thick weeds. I prefer the return method though, whenever there isn’t a lot of competition from other anglers. Try to avoid putting another bait in front of it. Move on. Come back on any weather change, wind-direction change and or light-level change; anything different. Also, at times fish activity just seems to pick up for no apparent reason. Get back there! If possible, change the angle that you approach the fish from as well. Most likely, there was something the fish liked about the presentation it followed; normally, I won’t go for “too” much change in that department. I’ve had a lot of success with keeping the same lure type, and maybe tweaking color or size a bit.