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Muskie hunters eager for open season

Muskie fanatics will get the opportunity to try for "the fish of 10,000 casts" beginning next Saturday, June 4. However, tempting one to bite takes plenty of patience. (Submitted photo)

Memorial Day weekend signifies the kick-off to summer in the lakes area. Though water temperatures remain in the high 50s to low 60s, lake dwellers will undoubtedly encounter some jet skis, plenty of anglers, pleasure boaters and maybe even a brave water skier or two this weekend.

Docks that lay sleeping on the shorelines will be put to work beneath bare feet.

Yes, summer is here, though Mother Nature may not have received the memo yet.

Memorial Day weekend is always a busy one in the Park Rapids area. Anglers are out in full force and

with the bass opener this weekend, nearly all species are now fair game.

Muskie season is still a week away and for some anglers, the June 4 date marks another unique Minnesota fishing opener.

Muskies, that fish of 10,000 casts, aren't the easiest fish in the lake to land. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

So are muskies that much smarter than other species? Do they have the ability to store more information than say, a lowly bullhead?

To some degree, a fish is a fish. They don't have large brains. In fact a mature walleye has a brain about the size of a pea, a muskie's isn't much bigger. And if you consider all the physical operations a fish performs (swimming, breathing, etc.) there's not much left for storing information.

It would be more impressive to base poor muskie success on being outsmarted by a fish that could contemplate the consequence of eating an artificial lure laced with huge treble hooks.

However it's more likely that we are ignorant. Muskie behavior is often misunderstood and they, just like any fish, have only a few motivations in life; to eat, reproduce, and find refuge.

A lot of anglers talk about the behavior of a muskie, but don't realize their behavior is determined by the environment. A muskie can't control its behavior, they are simply influenced by environmental factors such as water temperature, wind and barometric pressure.

Muskies are known for their propensity to follow an anglers lure up to the boat (often times opting to pass up the artificial meal at the last second).

It's likely that muskies act in the same manner around natural forage, following a sucker, crappie or other species out of curiosity with no intent to feed.

Since muskies don't necessarily think for themselves, the angler's goal is to trigger a natural reaction from the fish. This is where muskie fishing methodology has to be put into practice.

Eliciting a strike from a muskie requires varying approaches. For instance, a static retrieve will sometimes garner a follow from a muskie, varying the retrieve, typically by speeding up the cranking process, prompts more fish to take interest.

Using angles to your advantage is also beneficial. Instead of simply retrieving the lure in a linear fashion, use the rod tip to make the bait change directions.

Finally, put in plenty of time on the water. The exhilaration of catching a muskie is worth it!