Category Archives: Articles

Live Bait Basics

As many of you may already know, live baits can work great for muskie and pike. In Wisconsin, the use of live bait (usually in addition to artificial presentations) is very popular, especially in the fall, for muskies. It can work well in the spring too. In a nutshell, it works best and is most efficient in cool water ranges. Many nice fish are taken; big pike are often a surprise bonus at times too.

To cover a good general time frame for effectiveness, I’d recommend bait use from the start of the season (where there is no closed season it should work all winter) to the upper-sixty degree range of surface temperatures. However, I may cheat, occasionally, after I’ve officially given up hope of success on artificials when a nasty cold front comes in. But, once temperatures are in the 70’s for good, I’m done. I bring it back into play around turnover time, usually about the 60-degree mark for surface temperatures. There will be on and off periods, but once past turnover, bait will be effective to ice up.

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Those “Blooming” Muskies

Late summer/early fall fishing means a lot of things for a lot of people. For everyone, it’s the end of summer. For fishermen and women, no matter what their target species, it means changing patterns in their fishing if they wish to remain effective… leading the way to a period of consistent transition into the winter months. For many it also means “soup”. Not Chicken Noodle or Extra Chunky Beef either. No, this is the Pea Soup variety. The kind that allows you to draw in the water with your rod tip, and that will give away the exact path of retrieves, and that will crawl up fishing lines to revolving spools, leaving “green racing stripes” on white fishing shirts.

It’s called algae bloom. Algae are essentially aquatic organisms, growing in all of our natural bodies of water from the smallest to the largest. Collectively known as phytoplankton, they are photosynthetic plants that live and die. While living, they produce oxygen and when they die the bacterial process robs oxygen from the water. Algae are present in all waters, but certainly in varying degrees. While in many waters algae are barely noticeable, heavy algae blooms are impossible to ignore on others. Pollution makes for more algae as well.

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Barbs, Cutters & Stuff

We’ll start with what may likely be the most important topic in Esox release: hook cutting. We’ve been over this a bunch, but will never stop.

Hook Cutting

This is a subject that may not have nearly as much importance for folks going barbless (more on that later), since with no barbs, hooks easily back out with no ripping or tearing. However, even when barbless, sometimes it’s just easier and quicker to cut hooks. Sometimes angles are such that it’s just simpler to cut a shaft, hook eye, or split ring rather than try to get the right angle to back a hook out – which brings us to the first part of John’s question: “when to cut ’em.”

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