It's been five days since I took a trip with my dad to Cave Run Lake for some fall muskie fishing. I woke up this morning and parts of me still hurt. My hands are raw. My back aches. And my left tricep is still very upset. If today was the day after the trip I'd think nothing of it. Fall muskie fishing for me always involves giant lures that can make an angler sore. But this is five days later, and last I checked I'm not 60.
Hence why I hate "pounders."
To be more specific, "pounder" is the affectionate nickname given to the Musky Innovations Super Magnum Bulldawg. Basically, the lure is 16 ounces of pain. You read that right, 16 ounces. Launching a cast with one of those things requires physics I'm not smart enough to figure out. Forget loading up the rod. All you can do is swing the lure back, and when it starts swinging forward, use that momentum to get it airborne. Some 25 feet later, it will hit the surface of the water like a goat dropped from an airplane.
Why did I throw that monstrosity you ask? Partly because the guys I was fishing with, longtime friends and guides Tony Grant and Scott Salchli, wanted to see how long I would throw it, and partly because they catch fish… though not for me. I threw that thing around a fair amount over two days, resting often to check for hernias, and never moved a fish. Luckily, there are the "lighter" Magnum Bulldawgs (7.8 ounces) and Chaos Tackle Medussas (8.25 ounces). Now those lures did the trick. Over the weekend I had four bites and two follows between the two, along with boating a 37-incher on the Medussa.
There are three things I'll take away from the trip along with the pictures. The first was lure color. The first day, all the action on the giant soft plastics came on firetiger. However, on day two I never moved a fish on the bright lures and instead caught my fish on natural colors. The water temperatures didn't change. The sun was still shining both days. The locations were the same. Yet had I not switched between the two I may have never caught a fish.
No. 2 was watching the moon. Fall muskie action almost always comes in windows. And those windows often revolve around moonrise and moonset. Like clockwork both days, once we got within an hour of moonset the fish started showing up. Of the 14 fish my dad and I moved, eight came in two one-hour windows in the evenings around the moonsets.
However, the most important thing I took away was how to work the giant soft plastics over weeds. Salchli is one of, if not the best at working weeds with giant soft-plastic jerkbaits. And he showed me what he calls his "bunny hop." Instead of jerking or ripping the lures over the weeds, Salchi points his rod up and does a series of quick pulls to keep the lure just ticking the tops without getting fouled. It’s not easy and it takes some practice to feel the lure just ticking the tops, but once I got it down I caught fish.
Now it's time for more Advil. Man I love muskie fishing!
Slam the hooks!