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It’s Time to start Muskie Hunting

November 13, 2019

BY Chris Erwin

They say that the Muskie is a fish of 10,000 casts. For most of the United States, that statement is accurate; however, in Kentucky, that’s not the case. While most of the season it is still not an easy task to hook into this monster of freshwater. The fall brings about a period where your chances go way up. With a few tips, you might find a passion for hunting the top of the watery food chain and one of the most sought after trophies in the angling world.

– The last time the weeds died out on the main lake the big Muskie Migrated up Lickin River, Author Chris Erwin caught this fish 48 inches long, 6 muskie were caught on that trip. (photo by Larry Kitchen)

In 1986 I started guiding Muskie trips on Cave Run Lake. National Mine Service Company had shut its doors and I was without my job as a Machinist/ Tool & Die, Maker. From 1986 to 1992 I would spend most of my daylight hours fishing this lake. During that time, I learned a lot about both this lake and about Muskie fishing.
This week I want to pass along a few tips that you might find useful as we approach this prime part of the year. I could start talking about the spring, another excellent period, but I’ll save that for a different time since we are passed it, let’s concentrate on what’s to come.
This all starts when the water temperature falls below 70 degrees. When this happens, Muskie begins to get active in shallow water. The oxygen levels improve in the upper layer of water and baitfish show up many times, just cruising the top of the water. This attracts predators; however, I have found that Muskie has hunting grounds that are generally not where other predators tend to stalk prey.

During that same trip the big bass were caught in standing timber, Chris Erwin holding two of 20 bass caught while fishing that same trip (photo by Larry Kitchen)

I know they are exceptions, there are no hard fast rules for fishing, but if you play the odds, this is where you are going to see your best chances of hooking a big fish.
While the Bass tend to stage near the channel trees, Muskie will cruse the flats, the heads of creeks, points that hold lay-down trees. Small coves that have down trees that run out into the channel.
This year I have great hope that the Muskie will migrate up the river. Here is the deal, during years when the weeds do good on the main lake the big muskie tend to stay there. However, on years when the weeds die out ( usually from high spring or summer floods) the muskie migrate up the river looking for ambush spots where they can grab a meal without too much effort. I believe this is going to be one of those years. While they are some weeds on the main lake, much of them are dimished, do you summer flooding.
Because of this, I hope to be on the water most of the month of October. I have my bass boat in the shop getting it tuned up for what I hope will be my Oct trip. I hope to write this column from the cabin as I explore the river for both bass and muskie. Its been a few years since we have had a year where the river may get the big Muskie moving up the river, and I hope to catch a few good fish.
I will be focusing on the areas I have described downed trees, points that are near flats, creeks in the heads of coves. I will be throwing three main baits they are Buzzbaits, Minnow baits like the 675 AC Shinner, and spinnerbaits both dropping and in-line. I hope to see some of you on the water. The first couple of days, I will be on the main lake to attend the Kentucky Outdoor Press Writing Conference, then I will be moving up the river. Until next time keep your line wet and take a kid fishing.

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November 2019