Water temperatures and migrating baitfish often determine the bite It’s a winter condition that’s nearly as predictable as the holiday shopping rush at your local mall: Boats fishing out of ports in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and the Carolinas encounter ...
By Jim Saric
Host of Musky Hunter TV series
Publisher/Editor of Musky Hunter magazine
As we trolled around the reef for a second pass we dropped our lures deeper to make contact with a few deeper boulders. I watched the sonar closely as we approached a spine that extended from the reef. I could hear the purr of the Mercury ProKicker in the background and glanced back at one of the rods, which was trolling a deep running crankbait. The rod bounced as the lure made contact with the deeper rocks and immediately my eyes fixated on the sonar.
The purr of the ProKicker was interrupted by the screaming sound of the drag on the trolling reel from a sudden strike of a musky. That sound is magic to any musky hunter’s ears. I flew from my seat, grabbed the rod and the battle ensued. My boat partner slowed the ProKicker to an idle, and after several deep and powerful runs we slid the healthy musky into the net and followed-up with a few high fives. After a quick measurement and a few photos, the giant musky was released to fight again.
It was classic fall musky fishing.
Sinking air and water temperatures, leaves on the trees turning color, and shorter days are all signs of fall. For musky anglers these also remind us that muskies are on the move and it’s time to catch the heaviest fish of the season. As water temperatures continue to drop, muskies often move deeper and travel more frequently between spots in search of food. Fall begins the quest to catch your “personal best” musky.
The changing conditions of fall often requires musky anglers to change tactics, as the big fish are located deeper in the water column and tend to migrate between spots. Although casting methods are still effective, trolling often becomes the percentage game. Trolling is not as simple as tossing a lure behind the boat and letting the motor do the work. Master trollers understand everything their lures are doing and can replicate the situation once the first musky is caught, which often results in multiple-fish days. Effective trolling requires using softer-action musky rods to absorb the trolling strike; an understanding of how deep your lures run with varying line lengths; the ability to read your sonar; and overall knowledge of the various fall musky locations and movements.
Systematic trolling also requires precision speed and depth control, which my Mercury ProKicker 15hp outboard reliably provides. I have my kicker connected to my larger outboard with a connector bar and have a separate throttle for my kicker, which is quick to deploy, dependable, sure-starting and can operate at a variety of speeds. Whether I need to troll at a musky crawl of 2 mph or burn it up at 4 mph, my kicker flawlessly maintains the speed for hours. Plus, the power of the ProKicker and separate throttle allow me to make precision trolling runs around rocks, weed edges or breaklines.
If you want to be a complete musky hunter, trolling needs to be part of your arsenal. As the muskies move deeper as fall settles in, trolling with a Mercury ProKicker can help you catch and release your personal best musky.