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Warm temperatures activate muskies

Robert Smith quickly and carefully landed this 50" muskie on Mantrap this past week. He caught the fish on a perch colored crankbait while trolling and the fish successfully swam away. (Submitted photo)

By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise

Extreme heat obviously has an effect on fish behavior. The past week’s hot weather ironically didn’t have an adverse, negative impact on fishing success like it typically would.

Since water temperatures are cooler compared to average, the short heat wave didn’t have a major effect on the warmth of the lakes.

Anglers probably felt the rise in temperature more than the fish. Protecting yourself on the water when it’s hot requires diligence. Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that covers as much skin as possible, swim periodically and ingest a lot of water. Not lake water, tap water. I’ll typically freeze two 1-gallon jugs of water (filled 5/8 full to allow for expansion) and as they melt, you’ve got cold water.

Instead of drinking the standard 8-ounces of water per day, experts now say that you should divide your bodyweight by two and the product is how many ounces of water you should drink daily. Sitting in the boat for hours in the heat may require even more. I remember one of my college professors in a weight training class stating that once you begin to sweat, you’ve already lost 2 liters of water. When exercising, you’ll notice that you begin to sweat about 10 minutes into a workout.

When it comes to fishing, there’s no better (or worse in the heat) workout than muskie fishing. Hurling huge lures from morning into night definitely engages more muscles than most people realize. Sore shoulders, lower back, even legs. That’s muskie fishing and it’s definitely worth it.

Fighting the fish quickly, keeping it in the water as it’s unhooked and snapping a quick photo is acceptable. Often times we won’t even measure the fish. Huge fish get a measurement, but if it’s simply a nice fish, we simply let it go, give a slimy handed high-fish and say, nice fish.

Muskie fishing has changed dramatically in the past few decades. Nylon net bags changed to a system of using cradles, a product that was more like a stretcher for supporting big fish. The problem was that they were somewhat difficult to use and the idea of keeping the fish in the water as long as possible became widespread practice.

Today, specially coated, massively oversized nets allow the angler to protect the fish. Put the handle against the gunnel of the boat and the net bag extends below the surface of the water. Now your massive muskie can respire as it’s unhooked and released.

Lures for muskie fishing have also changed. Some of the classic baits like Eppinger Daredevil spoons and saltwater designed Surf-Oreno’s, a larger, propped relative of the Bass Oreno, haven’t been as popular recently with avid muskie anglers, who lean toward the realistic finished, unique running with edgy names like the Stud-Finder, Double-Cowgirl, Bull Dawg, Czar, and Believers.

Classic lures are still worthy. Don’t discount those antique lures in your tacklebox. They’ll still produce, but embrace the idea of trying something new too. Old or new lure, a muskie means a good day.