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Thread: 2011 Fall Muskie Trolling Report w/ photos

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Morson, Ontario, Canada
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    Default 2011 Fall Muskie Trolling Report w/ photos

    With the 2011 season now in the books for a couple of weeks, I’ve had a chance to review the results from our fall trolling. I hope you’ll find some useful info from the 3rd annual Sabaskong Bay Muskie Trolling Report. Without further ado, here we go......

    Muskies Caught – 48
    Days Fished – 16 full days; 6 half days
    Muskie Lost During the Fight – 8
    Fish Hooked & Lost immediately – 12
    Rod Rips that had to be fish, but did not get hooked up - 5

    Thoughts on Numbers
    My first thought at the totals was “Damn, what happened?” Having gone from 71 in 2009 to 57 in 2010 and now 28 in 2011, my first reaction is “What did I/we do wrong this year?” Of course, after thinking and reflecting for a few days, those thoughts have been replaced with, “48 muskies is nothing to sneeze at.” I truly feel blessed to be out there chasing and catching one of the more elusive species in our waters so I can’t/won’t complain about “only 48 fish” here in this forum. I fully realize a lot of anglers would give darn near anything to be out there as much as I get to be out there and to catch the numbers of fish we catch while we’re doing it.

    On the bright side, if we could have landed half of the fish that we lost, got off right away and hit but didn’t hook up, we’d have ended up with 60 fish. Pike NEVER fall off so we can always be safe to assume that any of the fish that we don’t see that fall off are muskies. HAHA. Anyone that’s fished for these things for awhile will understand and back me up on that thought process.

    Size Distribution
    Sub 30”: 4
    30” - <35”: 4
    35” - <40”: 13
    40” - <45”: 17
    45” – 46.75”: 6 (45”, 46”, 46.25”, 46.5”, 46.5”, 46.75”)
    47” – 48.75”: 3 (47.25”, 47.75”, 48.75”)
    50”+: 1 (52.5”)

    Thoughts on Size
    I feel good about the size of the fish this year despite not getting as many 4 footers or bigger in the net. I think having the real big girl (52.75” x 23.75" and thick all the way through) absolutely made the fall. I may have been left with an unsatisfied feeling without that fish this year, considering lower numbers overall and the fact we caught several more fish 4 foot and bigger in 2010. However, if I look at the numbers of fish 45”+ vs the total caught in each of the last 3 years, it shows that we’re contacting more bigger fish the last 2 years than the first year when we caught 71 fish total. Overall, if you can say one out of every 4-5 fish you catch is going to be 45" or bigger, I think we’d all be more than satisfied with that anytime, anywhere.

    Percentage of Fish 45”+
    2009: 8 of 71 = 11.3%
    2010: 13 of 57 = 22.8%
    2011: 10 of 48 = 20.8%

    Lures/Colours
    10” Jakes – 32
    9.5” Kraves – 14
    9” Grandma – 1
    13” Believer – 1

    These numbers will always be skewed towards what baits we’re using more of than others. The lack of fish on Grandmas this year can be mostly attributed to lack of use. That being said, the Krave was very productive again in 2011. It became the second choice in "go-to" baits after the 10 inch Jake. The Krave was effective over the middle and on the outside more so than on the inside. I found it snagged up too much on the inside to be a regular inside rod bait in my boat.

    A lack of action on the 14" baits was peculiar this fall. We had a few pike hit them, but didn’t have a muskie on a 14” Jake, despite some good time running them, particularly later in the season.

    Hot new baits/colour patterns were the “Blonde Bombshell” Jake with 7 and the “Jailbait” Krave with 8 fish respectively. Each of those patterns has 2 baits used though so one can’t claim a runaway “hottest bait” title. Return appearances were made by “Black & Gold Metallic” aka Goldilocks, New School Rainbow Trout and Tennessee Shad w/ Orange Belly Jakes. The Most Valuable Bait race will be tough to call. It may be a little while yet before all the votes are in for that award.

    Rod Position Related to Structure
    Inside Rod: 22
    Outside Rod: 21
    Middle Rod: 5

    Middle rod results will be less mainly due to lack of 3 rods set-ups this year. Inside rod landed 5 fish while I was out solo so there wasn’t any other option for the fish that day. Overall, pretty even split throughout the fall season in general.

    Depth/Structure
    As usual, 10 feet was the target depth, but we run over humps and stretches of deeper water at times. I can’t say I have found any reason to alter this moving forward in our area. There is deeper water near most of where we fish and we have tried deeper passes through areas when baitfish is present and/or nothing is popping on the shallower runs. Nothing significant has happened to make me target 15 feet or deeper on average, but I will always be willing to give things a shot out there. In one case, we made some rounds on a shelf that was 13-18 feet deep, which dropped into 30 feet pretty steep. We did locate baitfish in areas on the shelf, but didn’t get anything to strike. I’ll certainly be trying that type of area again more often in future years though. Generally speaking, rubble structure was more productive this year than rock wall or shoreline with a steeper taper. I’m not sure what to make of that, but it was strange to have some of our best areas and runs not spitting out fish like they have the two previous years.

    Highlights
    - 7 fish day with Eric that had one fish lost at the net and another rip that didnt hook up
    - 6 fish day with Todd and Amy resulting in Amy's first (46.5") and two PBs for Todd (41", 42")
    - 6 personal bests total for 5 anglers (48.75", 47.75", 46.5", 45") and 41" & 42" for the same angler in the same day.
    - first-ever muskies for the only 2 anglers fishing with me that had never caught one (Amy's 46.5", Steve's 45")
    - my season best of 52.5" that may be the heaviest fish I have ever caught, beating the 52.75" (trolling in 2005) in weight based on girth and overall thickness of the fish
    - fishing some new areas that paid off, including the 52.5” from a brand new area.
    - fishing some areas that didn’t pay off at all last year, but were very productive this year.
    - morning bite pretty reliable late in the year. Morning moon phase was almost on the numbers.

    Other Cool Stuff
    Having a fish hit right after a snag let go, or having a fish hit and not hook up, then hit again and stick will never get old. Each of those happened this year and they always get the blood flowing. My hand was on the handle of the rod when the fish that hit twice came back for his second swing...I grabbed it to make sure it was still wobbling true and it slammed the rod with my hand on it.

    More fish jumped this year than I remember before. We got a few on video, but missed a couple of the best ones due to technical difficulties.

    So many fish were crushing baits this year. More fish hooked on front hooks than ever before. Seeing brand new baits getting smacked at the head of the baits was pretty cool. That makes it hard to explain why so many more fish hit and fell off though. Though several times, we saw new baits get a “kill shot” to the top of the head, which led to no hooks being embedded in the predator that struck them.

    Not So Cool Stuff
    - don’t ever try to put your tiller motor in neutral with a size 14 boot. Dean and I are lucky to be able to say what a dumb idea that was. UGH. NEVER AGAIN!!!

    - some of my favourite areas were stingy this year. Bait fish was there, active muskies weren’t. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I will be asking some of my more experienced fishing buddies to comment on that for me.

    - fishing solo is tough. Despite picking up a few fish while fishing alone this year...it can be a real grind to go all day with nothing happening out there. Wind makes it tough to get to where you might want to fish because of the danger of hooking a fish or getting a clingy snag while in some wind against the shoreline. I have to track down some more reliable late in the season fishing partners for future years.

    - skunked way too often this year. If you throw out the skunked days (5 full days, 1 half day), the totals would have been much more respectable in terms of average fish per day. If we could have bagged a couple of fish each of those full days, we’d have been up to 58 fish and laughing. A couple of those days were weather related (wind gusting to 41 MPH!!) and fishing new areas that we should have given up on part way through the day, but a couple of the others occurred in some of the most reliable areas of the previous 2 years. Those are the days that really hurt!!

    - “prime time” was not so prime. Not many fish late in the day. Particularly late in the last full moon phase during the last few days of the year on the water. Moonrise and sunset were close together and we didn’t even get a snap on the rods for those few days. We planned our days to fish excellent runs too. BUMMER!!

    - November was a let-down in all ways. Windy and not as many fish. I hope that doesn’t continue.

    Equipment/Gear
    The GoPro Hero HD video camera I picked up just prior to the trolling season was one of the coolest things I have ever bought. Strapping it on my head and being able to capture some of the fishing action was so much fun. I can’t wait to get some of footage edited and onto YouTube and make some DVDs for those that fished with me this year. You can get started for $200. Check them out. I think it will be a hoot for casting as well. We even managed to capture a couple of strikes in real time, but they were both pike.

    I cut hooks like a crazy man this fall. I love the KNIPEX cutters. At one point, a fishing partner started blocking the net so I couldn’t get in there with my cutter. He got tired of changing hooks so often. Seriously though, several fish were hooked in a way that it would have been next to impossible to get them cut and out without the right tools. My old cutters would have been hopeless.

    Thorne Bros Custom Trolling Rods are the Cadillac of trolling rods. I picked up another one (this one 8-6) and just can’t say enough good things about them. If you trolling more than one weekend a season, consider giving one of these rods during their spring sale when things are 10% off regular retail. You won’t be disappointed.

    Other Observations
    Had a fishing partner do a lot of rod pumping the last 3.5 days of the reason. I can’t say we noticed a significant difference in the number of strikes he had vs mine. He did out-land me on muskies 6-4 and pike were fairly even. Rod rips and non-hook ups seemed similar as well. I’m still confident it would make a difference if all rods were being pumped at all times, but I have no data to back that up.

    Gummy worms as a teaser tail didn’t make the fish go crazy. Nuff said.

    Fuel Burned
    I decided to keep track of all the gas I burned this fall just for trolling. It worked out to 956.22 litres or just under 253 US gallons. I troll with my 90HP Suzuki 4 stroke tiller engine. My motor loves that high grade 91 octane, non-oxygenated, ethanol-free Canadian gasoline. Having fun isn't always cheap, but it's well worth it!

    Pike Summary
    Big pike are still going strong. I did my best to keep track of pike this fall and came up with 48 confirmed pike caught. I may have missed a few in the totals.
    My PB pike of 42” was among those landed (while fishing solo to boot.) We measured 8 others 37.5” to 39.5”. A few others may have made 37”+, but we just didn’t take time to put all of the big pike on the board. Big pike can be nice bonus fish, especially when you have anglers along that aren’t total muskie nuts. It’s hard to explain to some why we are bummed with a 39" fish.

    Special Thanks
    Dick Moore (hooks, leaders)
    Bob S from Justencase Tackle Boxes (the best tackle boxes in the world.)
    Thorne Bros Custom Rod & Tackle (great service and prices on gear/tackle.)
    Bob, Ron, Harry, Amy, Todd, Eric, Mark, Al, Jeff, Steve, Dean, Jeff for spending time in the Pooh Boat with me this fall.

    Extra Special thanks to Al Moller for netting my big fish on October 24. What a great memory, all captured on video. You did good, Al. Hope I can net a bigger one for you next time. Also to my trolling mentor, Baz, for training and teaching me what I need to know to be successful out there.

    Final Thoughts
    I probably look forward to this more than I should. I probably take it more seriously than I should. However, muskie fishing has given me a lot of great memories the last couple of years during a period in my life that has some not so great memories that could stand out. I’m thankful to be in the position that I’m in. To be able to get out there and fish more than most is something I have promised several people that I will never take for granted. I intend to keep that promise and make the most of every chance I get to be on the water fishing. It’s about more than the fish you might catch. Much, much more.

    Life is too short not to have fun. Whatever it is you enjoy, take the time and do it. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow.

    We still miss you out there, Jack.

    Happy Holidays and thanks for reading.

    Pics to follow in a day or two.
    Last edited by Justin Gaudry; 12-01-2011 at 04:03 PM.
    Justin Gaudry
    Mylie's Place Resort

    Lake of the Woods
    Morson, Ontario, Canada
    Website: http://www.myliesplaceresort.com
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/myliesplace
    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MyliesPlaceResort/feed
    Twitter: @MyliesPlaceJMan https://twitter.com/#!/MyliesPlaceJMan
    E-mail: jwgaudry@hotmail.com
    Toll Free Phone: 1-866-395-3449

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Default Pike Photos

    Some of the bigger Pike

    From Left:

    Justin: 38"

    Dean: 39"

    Justin: 39.5"

    Justin: 42" PB (solo, tripod with timer)
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    Justin Gaudry
    Mylie's Place Resort

    Lake of the Woods
    Morson, Ontario, Canada
    Website: http://www.myliesplaceresort.com
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/myliesplace
    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MyliesPlaceResort/feed
    Twitter: @MyliesPlaceJMan https://twitter.com/#!/MyliesPlaceJMan
    E-mail: jwgaudry@hotmail.com
    Toll Free Phone: 1-866-395-3449

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default 45 & 46's

    From Left:

    Steve's 45" - First ever muskie & PB,

    Justin's 46" (tripod with timer),

    Amy's 46.5" - First ever muskie & PB,

    Justin's 46.5",

    Justin's 46.5" (tripod with timer),

    Justin's 46.75"
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    Justin Gaudry
    Mylie's Place Resort

    Lake of the Woods
    Morson, Ontario, Canada
    Website: http://www.myliesplaceresort.com
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/myliesplace
    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MyliesPlaceResort/feed
    Twitter: @MyliesPlaceJMan https://twitter.com/#!/MyliesPlaceJMan
    E-mail: jwgaudry@hotmail.com
    Toll Free Phone: 1-866-395-3449

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Morson, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
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    Default 47s and 48+

    From Left:

    Eric's 47.25",

    Al's 47.75" PB,

    Eric's 48.75" PB
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    Justin Gaudry
    Mylie's Place Resort

    Lake of the Woods
    Morson, Ontario, Canada
    Website: http://www.myliesplaceresort.com
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/myliesplace
    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MyliesPlaceResort/feed
    Twitter: @MyliesPlaceJMan https://twitter.com/#!/MyliesPlaceJMan
    E-mail: jwgaudry@hotmail.com
    Toll Free Phone: 1-866-395-3449

  5. #5
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    Default The Big Girl

    Justin's 52.75" x 23.75" thick fall fatty.

    from left:

    Pic 1: "She's Beautiful"

    Pic 2: "The Close-up"

    Pic 3: "The Release"

    Pic 4: "Happy Angler"

    The video of the fight and release turned out great. It will be the first YouTube clip from the fall footage.
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    Justin Gaudry
    Mylie's Place Resort

    Lake of the Woods
    Morson, Ontario, Canada
    Website: http://www.myliesplaceresort.com
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/myliesplace
    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MyliesPlaceResort/feed
    Twitter: @MyliesPlaceJMan https://twitter.com/#!/MyliesPlaceJMan
    E-mail: jwgaudry@hotmail.com
    Toll Free Phone: 1-866-395-3449

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Morson, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
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    Default How to Keep Warm in November

    It's not about fashion. It's about keeping warm!

    Pic 1: Fur hat, ski goggles, face mask, cabelas pants & jacket, size 14 insulated/lined rubber boats

    Pic 2: Add hood and thinsulate lined leather gloves

    Goofy looking but nice and toasty!!
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    Justin Gaudry
    Mylie's Place Resort

    Lake of the Woods
    Morson, Ontario, Canada
    Website: http://www.myliesplaceresort.com
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/myliesplace
    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MyliesPlaceResort/feed
    Twitter: @MyliesPlaceJMan https://twitter.com/#!/MyliesPlaceJMan
    E-mail: jwgaudry@hotmail.com
    Toll Free Phone: 1-866-395-3449

  7. #7

    Default

    Outstanding, Justin. See you in the summer.

    Rick

  8. #8

    Default

    Another fantastic report, very thorough, and a good trolling season with some awesome muskies caught. I have been slipping in terms of log keeping. Reading your report makes me think of occasions when fish have bumped the lure and after a pump, hook up; the need to keep track of the big pike I catch (for some, they would be a fish of a lifetime; I think that I should keep track of hook ups and misses, and chuckle when you say that you know the misses canít be pike. I have more to say but am drained from cheering on the Bombers.

    I gotta get me one of those hat cameras.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    7

    Default

    Thanks for a great report. I hope we can make it out together next fall.
    Jason

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