Many anglers have never even tried live bait for any species. Where I come from in northwestern Wisconsin, live bait use for musky is a tradition as old as the sport itself. Generally, live bait use is common in the spring, and almost standard procedure for most muskie seekers in the fall. There are those that are either disinterested in live bait use, or simply prefer other tactics. There are also those within the muskie community that are “dead-set” against live bait use.
These folks won’t use it and, they don’t feel anyone else should be using live bait either. I’ve been in the presence of, and once in a while involved in, boisterous discussions on the “do’s, don’ts and whys” on the use of live bait. While I certainly don’t agree that live bait should never be used under any circumstances, or that the use of live bait is, “unfair, unsporting and only for ‘lazy’ people”, one of the concerns anti-live-baiters will offer is legit. That the use of live bait kills musky. Unfortunately, I can’t argue that point. They’re dead right!
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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.
Continue reading “Live Bait Basics” »