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CALVINIST

Some muskie questions....

11 posts in this topic

I heard muskies are territorial. Are they? If they are, what size territory do they occupy?

When fishing for muskies, how much time should I focus on a particular area before moving on?

And, If you have two different color lures, but the same lure, Will a muskie prefer one color over the other?

Thanks!

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Are they territorial??? That is kind of a yes and no answer. While you have fish that will relate to certain structure(s) during the year, you also have some fish that will stay out and roam the open waters following the schools of baitfish. Where they go, these open water fish will go. Fish relating to structure(s) could roam between many different pieces of structure in a given area. A lot of variables to consider on how big of an area they will stake a claim to.

I tend not to spend an inordinate amount of time on a certain piece of structure unless there is a very hot fish on it. Even then, it she shows herself a couple of times but wont commit to eating your bait, best to back off and wait for a change of some sort. Whether it be wind switching, wind starting to blow, sunset/lowlight conditions, clouds moving in and taking away the sun,etc. Most of the time is spent fishing from structure to structure looking for the active and agressive fish.

Hard to give you a definate answer for your third question. Again, possibly a yes and no type answer. Depending upon the fish, they might like the sound that certain style of bait gives off. It might perhaps be the flash of a nickel/copper blade that is the determining factor as to if they fish strikes or not. Certain lakes are different as well. On a clear lake that I fish, painted blades, especially Flame color, have been awesome. Another body that I fish with clearer water, the nickel blades outpreform all the rest. You just have to spend time on the water and develope confidence in your baits. One thing to remember, is that when you spend a lot of time switching lures, it is less time your lure in the water!!!

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Hiya -

A few quick thoughts:

Territorial? Depends on how you mean it I think. Research has shown that muskies do develop a 'home range' during the summer months. The home range can vary from 20 to couple hundred acres, depending on the body of water and variables like fertility, structure, available forage, etc. (Certainly not all the variables are known...). Once they're set up, the home ranges are very well defined. One biologist described them as 'like the fences on a farmer's field - they just don't cross them.' So in that sense, they're territorial. I also think they're territorial in some of their other behaviors, like following lures. I think part of that behavior is territorial aggression to some degree.

But in the sense of chasing away other muskies that move into their areas, I really don't think that's the case. In the old days the theory was one fish ruled a spot and would chase away any other muskies. Then when that fish was caught, another fish moved in to replace it. But there's just too much evidence of multiple fish using small areas to make be believe there's any truth to that. On the contrary, I think muskies school more than most of us think they do. They certainly have no trouble sharing an area with other muskies.

How long to spend on a spot? It depends. There - how's that for a useless answer smile If I have confidence in a spot, I have no trouble fishing it very thoroughly. Especially this time of year frankly. The more complex a spot is the more likely I am to give it some time. Some spots are 20 cast spots, others are 45 minute spots. I know one very good guide on Leech Lake who will spend ALL DAY on one spot in late fall, because he knows from experience the fish will be there at some point. He's got the history on the spot to give him that degree of confidence in it. (He doesn't change lures either...heh). I don't have that kind of patience most days. Bottom line is over time some spots will prove to you they're worth the extra attention. Until then, follow your gut and your temperament, and fish at a pace that feels comfortable. Everyone has their own style on stuff like his - and they all work.

Color - good Lord if I knew the answer to that. Best I can offer is that I think sometimes color can make a difference, but I have no idea when it does and when it doesn't smile To me, in all seriousness, color is more a factor in your confidence than it is a critical factor with getting a fish to bite. With muskies, your sample size is just too small on any given day to determine anything meaningful about fine details like color. If I spend a day fishing smallmouth bass, I can usually have a preference nailed down to a particular shade and shape of soft plastic (and I've seen days where green pumpkin with copper flake outfishes green pumpkin with red flake 10:1). With muskies, if you can identify a preference for jerkbaits vs.bucktails, you're as dialed in as you'll get most days... The math is just too much against you to get more precise than that. Most of the patterning with muskies is more about location than fine tuned presentation details like color. I stick with basic color rules of thumb based on water clarity and light conditions, and hope for the best. Some lakes have colors that just plain work well there (purple on Leech, and white on Cass - a white harasser with an orange blade used to be automatic on Cass) but again that's likely due to water clarity as much as anything. Given the amount of data you have available to make assumptions on, it really comes down to confidence on a given day.

Cheers,

Rob Kimm

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Territorial to a certain degree. I went to L.O.T.W. a few times this summer and observed two muskies following lures or being within an incredibly close proximity of each other on several occasions. This was new behavior I haven't seen before (in the cities). I find it interesting that on such a large body of water there were so many pairs in spots.

Typically if I can raise fish or get some visible follows I can spend 30-45 minutes at that spot throwing various presentations. After that, I assume that the follow was out of curiosity or to ward off intruders and move elsewhere. This time of year though I do like to run-n-gun and keep moving about.

As for color. Rob hit the nail on the head in regards to color. If I was catching 4-6 muskie each time out I might be able to gather a more accurate opinion on color decision. I typically use what has worked on that lake in the past and go from there.

Rawk,

-Buck

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A couple other ways to look at how to work a spot is how often to hit a spot on a given time out, and how to fish the same spot in a different manner.

Multiple stops on the same spot: For example, I fish White Bear a fair amount. 3000 acres, so enought to keep me busy, but still small enough that if I'm moving around I'll end up going past a couple classic pieces of structure a couple/few times in a given day. I'll stop and hit it each time by, since it's a spot that at one time or another will hold fish or fish on the spot may become active. Just another way to stack the odds of being in the right place at the right time.

Same spot different presentation: I can take a point with a shallow top and deep water accessible to it and fish it from relatively the same boat position in entirely different ways. I can hit the shallow shelf with a topwater or a dive 'n' rise jerkbait over the weed tops, then come right back down throwing to the other side going with a deeper bait or slow rolling a spinnerbait or working a jig or Bulldawg.

I remember Jonny P telling a story about a couple years ago of a day on White Bear where he pulled a fish off the weedline a couple times to follow but not go, so he figured he'd come back later and hopefully get her to go and not follow. 5 minutes later he watched a boat throw a spinnerbait into the weeds on the exact spot and pop a fish, likely the same one. Good example of fishing the same spot differently....obviously it stuck with me.

Color: I do try to take light and water clarity factors into consideration along with the "match the hatch concept", but 1/2 the time I'm throwing what looks cool. I'll admit to this....ever look at how many Firetiger lures you have? I have a lot, and I think it's because they look "cool" on the store shelf! It's along the same lines as someone on here (RK) who's wife has an addiction with black shoes.........hate to say it but I can relate. That said, a single blade white and orange bladed Nug Tackle bucktail has been good to me this year on a stained Metro lake, lot different than the Cass scenario Rob mentioned...go figure.

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Quote:
I heard muskies are territorial. Are they? If they are, what size territory do they occupy?

RK hit it on the head. and it's nice to know somebody else has observed they seem to school sometimes and are not ALWAYS loners. i've told that to a few people and got that... your nuts attitude, lol. this year i've fished a smallish area.. probaly 1 acre on the croix.. for close to 3 months straight, whenever i get the chance. i had a couple decent fish landed the first day i fished it years ago so i go by it alot every year. well this year i had a 2 fish day one day and a very pretty golden clear phase 50+ i'd say 52'' maybe better, and very round, follow me up. she's real arrogant. sit there and look up at me and smirk then do a roll on top of the water flip me the fin and dissappear. ( i refuse to figure 8 ) over the past few months i've never saw her before 5pm or after 7pm. outside that time i've pulled other fish from that area. never during that time. only see her if i see anything between 5-7. does this mean she's territorial? chasing all the little guys away? maybe. who the heck knows. maybe the little guys are just scared by the size of her and she's misunderstood, who can say for sure. but over the years i've tuned into similar areas where i catch a couple fish and see a biggun like her and hit it all summer or just a few days untill she hits. so yeah i believe they are home base inclined.

Quote:
When fishing for muskies, how much time should I focus on a particular area before moving on?

see above for partial answer... like RK said it's confidence in that spot in general. a guy might fish it all day and not leave the area because of complete confidence in that area. cjac gave the same kind of answer but different. he said he'd go back several times a day because he's semi-confident in an area, but fish others too. and if a guy does'nt know a spot holds fish and just ''heard'' it produces he might spend a few minutes there and move on because of uncertainty and low-confidence levels. but get a follow from what would be a PB. a guy might just pitch a tent and fish it. the key is confidence in the spot and how much time ''YOU'' are willing to spend there. theres no right answer.

Quote:
If you have two different color lures, but the same lure, Will a muskie prefer one color over the other?

confidence, expierience and insider information are your best ways to choose colors. throw a lure but don't get so hung up on blaming the color if you don't hook up. only brings down the confidence level and keeps the lure from spending more time in the water. great grandpappy Amos used to say it like this, '' son, if'n you you changed forks like you change lures you'd sturve ta' death, them feesh don't give a hoot if'n they hungry'' blush ... but what if they aren't hungry. that's when i think color means something. because that gives me confidence to keep trying. fishing in general is 9o percent confidence, muskie fishing is 99 percent. good luck smile

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About the territorial question.

I have seen a couple instances of some puzzling and remarkable behavior. Two nights ago, I was fishing on Lake Alexander. A smallish fish, maybe 36 inches, was chasing my bucktail. I came in to the boat and began doing my ovals. That little bugger was following me hard and fast until up comes maybe a 47 incher, who rose up horizontally from under the boat, got behind the little one, and literally chased it away. Last I saw, there was two tails going off out of sight, the big one behind the small one. I came back on them twice after that at prime times, and never saw them again.

Last season, a similar thing happened. The small fish was hot, and after the bait. The bigger fish came zooming in-between the smaller fish and the bait. The bigger fish, it seemed, had no interest in the bait, but just didn't want the smaller fish to have it. We switched baits 7 times, and each time the little one would come for it hard, but the bigger one would head him off, then backed off a little and just watched. Finally, they grew tired of it and quit following. Interesting behavior, and entertaining.

That stuff, I think, is rare, but I think more the case when bigger fish have their bellies satisfied, and perhaps are in some sort of funky mood. From my experience, muskies co-exist well together...especially when they are feeding. One of my cardinal rules is when you catch a fish, especially at night but during the day as well, you go right back there and fish some more as soon as you have released your first fish. I cannot tell you how many times I have caught multiple fish all within one cast of the spot where I hooked up initially.

I envision a (water) wolf pack down there. Maybe they are working together, and maybe not, but whatever the case, there is something going on down there baitfish wise that they are keying in on, and it's a great thing to capitalize on for us, that's for sure.

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I seen this type of behavior multiple times, always this time of year. I have even had three come in on a bucktail once. The bummer is, if you do get them to bite, you always seem to get the smaller one...

They follow so close sometimes when one gets hooked, I swear you could probably net them both if you tried.

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Glad to hear this helped! Lots of info and thoughts here, if you kept it all straight and took some good info away you're a scholar in my book!

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