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Thread: 2013 Fall Muskie Trolling Report: Sabaskong Bay & Area

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Morson, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    551

    Default 2013 Fall Muskie Trolling Report: Sabaskong Bay & Area

    Here I am...late again...next year I’m writing stats down each night or as they happen in the boat. It takes too long to go through 20 plus days of video to retrieve all this info! So without further delay or fanfare, I give you the 2013 Fall Muskie Trolling Report for Sabaskong Bay & Area from J-Man 2.0 and Mylie’s Place Resort.

    Muskies Landed: 87
    Days Fished: 20

    • plus 1 part day for 3 hours in the morning that did not yield a fish.
    • Skunked 1 day.
    • No less than 2 muskies every other day on the water.

    Muskie Lost During Fight: 0

    (First time ever we didn’t lose one we had fought for more than 5-10 seconds)

    Fish That Hit and Fell Off Right Away or Didn’t Hook Up: 25
    (this is confirmed total, but may have missed a few)

    Pike Landed: 37 (40”, 39”, 38” being the largest)

    Total Strikes: 149 confirmed

    % of Muskies Landed of Total Strikes: 87/149 = 58.4%
    % of Muskies Landed minus Confirmed Pike: 87/112 = 77.8%

    Previous Years Totals
    2012: 53 fish in 20 days
    2011: 48 fish in 16 full days & 6 half days
    2010: 57 fish in 14 full days & 5 half days
    2009: 71 fish in 22 days

    Thoughts on Numbers
    I’m blown away by the total and sit here thinking it will be impossible to have a better fall season on landing fish, but then I see the numbers of fish that didn’t hook up and think if half of those had stayed on, it would have been a 3 figure fall. I am realistic enough to know this will be very hard to replicate and expect each year to be different. My goal is that we can average 3 muskies per full day when we are out there. That is an ambitious number in itself when you think about it, but on Lake of the Woods, there is no reason not to believe and expect those kinds of results over the long term. I’m spoiled to the point where 2-3 feels like a slow day. Sometimes I need to remind myself that it is just NOT that easy and the fish have all the advantages so we need to be patient and keep working hard to have success.

    Size Distribution
    Sub 30”: 2
    30” - < 35”: 11
    35” - < 40”: 27
    40” - < 45”: 32

    45” - < 48”: 8 (45.5”, 46”, 46”, 47”, 47”, 47”, 47”, 47.5”)
    48” - < 50”: 3 (48”, 48.5”, 48.5”)

    50”+: 4 (50”, 50.25”, 52”, 53”)

    Percentage of Fish 45+

    2013: 15 of 87 = 17.2%
    2012: 8 of 53 = 15.1%
    2011: 10 of 48 = 20.8%
    2010: 13 of 57 = 22.8%
    2009: 8 of 71 = 11.3%

    Thoughts on Size
    I sometimes think the word epic gets tossed around a bit too often. However, in this case, I’m comfortably declaring the overall sizes of the fish we caught made for an epic fall in the Pooh boat. Overall, there was a good distribution to showcase the excellent health of the fishery on Lake of the Woods. What pushed the overall size into the epic category was again the thickness of fish all through the classes. The biggies we caught were ALL Tanks, except for 1 of the 47 inchers. The number of mini-tanks in the 35-40 inch class was impressive again, as well as the 40-45 inchers. Fall is an amazing time to land muskies. The feed bag gets strapped on and almost every man, woman and baby muskie is eating good, good, good.

    Lures/Colours
    10” Jakes: 38
    9.5” Kraves: 9
    9” Grandmas: 6
    Giant Flatstick: 5
    13” Grandmas: 2
    14” Jakes: 2
    10” Slammers: 2

    12” Headlocks: 18 (14 on 1 bait, 3 on another bait, 1 on a 3rd bait)
    10” Headlocks: 10 (3 different baits)

    Thoughts on Baits
    I consciously tried to use a few more baits this year and it shows with the total number of baits being used to land fish. Big fish were not totally focused on one type of bait, but the biggies played out like this:

    48” – Giant Flatstick
    48.5” – 12” Headlock
    48.5” - 10” Jake
    50” – 12” Headlock
    50.25” – 12” Headlock
    52” – 10” Headlock
    53” – 9” Grandma

    The numbers show that the 10” Jake again is the old faithful of muskie trolling baits and should NEVER be overlooked as an option. The Krave got much less time in the water this year with the action we got on grandmas, flatsticks and headlocks so I would say the Krave was the unsung hero of the fall with the biggest of the Krave fish being 47.5.”

    The rookie of the year and the Most Valuable Bait awars races were runaways. The Headlock is here to stay. At least in the Pooh boat. I did not buy one of those baits, but had a very generous friend donate a couple to the cause so I had them all fall. I was hesitant using them for fear of losing a $70 and $75 dollar bait, but once took a deep breath and let them do their thing, they started to produce. Can we say that this bait was the difference in the catching some of these fish? No, maybe not. But I can say we got alot of fish on them and the average size was very good. I will now have a headlock and a jake on at the same time likely 90% of the time or more when I’m trolling with two rods. With three rods, at least one of those baits will be on all the time, and likely both with a third option making up the line-up. I don’t know how long the wooden baits will stand up to the beating, but the 12” “Perchy” Headlock may go into retirement after one fantastic season landing 14 fish with several beasts (50.25”, 50”, 48.5”, 46” 45.5”) in the mix.

    Rod Position Related to Structure
    Outside Rod: 40
    Inside Rod: 29
    Middle Rod: 18

    No real strange trends here, but the outside to structure rod typically starts of slower and then evens out of catches up later. This year the inside rod started off a bit slow and lagged behind throughout the season. One thing to note though is the number of fish caught in current areas and saddle type areas was way up, so often the baits were over some deeper water and not relating to structure the way they would typically be on a shoreline or reef type situation.

    Depth/Structure
    Again, I try to keep the boat in 8-10 feet on average and I think this will always serve well. I can report that there was a pile of fish caught over some deeper water this year though. Mostly resulting from running through areas where baitfish was present multiple times. Moving in and out towards structure or over different parts of spots to cover as much as possible. This produced a great many number of fish and strikes and I feel like this is the difference between what would have been an average year with 50-60 fish and the fantastic totals I ended up with. In the past, 1 or 2 passes on a spot would be about the max and then move on. This year, when bait fish was present, we’d work spots hard. Making 4, 5 and 6 passes through areas was not uncommon for the pooh boat this year. This was something almost unheard of in the past. In past years, we’d hope to find one or two spots and areas where we’d get multiple fish on a given day and we glad. This year, so many areas produced multiple fish that I’m confident saying that baitfish is KEY. If there is ALOT of bait on your sonar, work the area hard. Several fish, including the 45.5”, 47.5”, 47”, 47”, 48”, 48.5”, 50”, 52” came from multiple passes or runs at an area with good bait. The other common factor was that all these spots had produced fish in the past. Bait and current together were the most potent combination. One area alone produced 9 fish the last 2 days of fishing. Not only did we land 9 fish, we also have 5-6 other strikes that didn’t hook up. No two fish were the same size. The biggest two fish were 45.5” and 47.5”, but I fully expect a GIANT to come from that area in the future if the bait is present the way it was this fall.

    Highlights
    It would be easy to say my own personal best is the highlight of the fall for me, but I think most of the people that know me well will have no trouble to believe that would be the bottom of my highlight reel. When it comes to true highlights and what gets me the most jacked up, it is always going to be what other anglers do while in my boat that matters most. Whether it be netting 50 inchers or getting first muskies on the board for someone, I am thrilled to share my love for this hobby/sport with others. Having said that, here are some of the highlights of the fall for me personally...in no particular order:

    • Getting my childhood bestie in the boat for a fall trip after years of begging and pleading for him to come spend a few days. Barry made the trip from Estevan, Saskatchewan and landed 6 muskies in 2 days, including personal bests of 43” on day 1 (also his 1st muskie ever) and 44” on day 2.

    • Getting my cousin Jeff (also from Estevan, Saskatchewan) out for a day that was one day after his b-day and managing to net 5 fish for him. This was also my last day on the water in 2013 and was a day I wasn’t planning on getting out fishing, but weather turned out a little less nasty than first thought and we made a run for it. The late start didn’t hurt us at all and we basically fished 2 areas all day for the fish we got, including Jeff’s personal best 48.5” fatty. Hearing him declare that weekend to be “his best birthday weekend ever” was pretty sweet.

    • A record day in the Pooh boat with the Godfather and former Number 1 Jordan H. The 10 fish day was incredible. Even more fun was netting 4 fish for Jordan (his best day of muskie fishing ever), including a personal best 44” beauty.

    • Pinching barbs on a few trolling baits and landing 4 fish barbless. More barbless trolling baits next year!

    • A total of 6 personal bests for 5 anglers. This includes my own personal best (53”) as well as PBs for Barry (43”, 44”), Jordan (44”) and Cousin Jeff (48.5”) and John (52”).

    • Putting my friend Jeff H on a 48.5” after a few days in previous years where we have been a little snakebit in the boat together. We blew away any thought of being “cursed” as fishing partners and look forward to getting back in the boat together whenever possible.

    • Netting another 50”+ fish for the Godfather. It just doesn’t get too much better than that.

    • Not having to visit the prop/skeg doctor after a season of trolling!

    • Seeing my buddy and trolling mentor back in the game after a long absence due to several circumstances beyond his control. Not only did Randy B get back in the game, he pounded out some nice fish with his wife and nephew. You Da Man, Baz!! Welcome back!!

    • I could go on and on, but need to move on so will top here and get to the......

    Not So Cool Stuff

    I parked Pooh on rocks a few times while fishing new (and one old) area(s). I guess I can take solace in the fact that they were all relatively soft landings. HAHA I will always remember one of the best trollers I know telling me if you don’t hit (or almost hit) a couple of rocks a day, you probably aren’t close enough to structure.

    Wind and cold!! Brrrrrrrrrrrr.....the only downside to the J-Man 2.0 conversion is not taking the cold very well compared to when I was much more well insulated. What happened to the years I fished past Nov 15 and could work on fish without neoprene gloves to keep from freezing my fingers?

    The one day skunked in one of my favourite areas to fish. We did have a fish hit and fall off right away, but that just isn’t how it is supposed to be when we fish that area. AHHHHH!!

    Wondering whether Pooh would fire in the mornings when it was super cold. I think he is gonna need a new starter next spring.

    Equipment/Gear
    The GoPro did a good job again overall, but I got to play with a newer version and there is some cool features that would be great to have access to so I may be browsing for deals on ebay to upgrade over the winter.

    Another Thorne custom trolling rod, this time with the tip stiffened up a bit. I can’t say I noticed a difference in the way it handled baits, but it should earned its keep with 53 and 52 inchers under its belt already.

    Shimano Tekota line counters are the way to go. Get the 500LC or 600LC. I’ve used a few other cheaper brands/models and they have not lasted. Go with quality from the start if you will be putting any serious time into trolling.

    I actually wore out a pair of knipex cutters after two full seasons. Of course I had a spare so got to break them in before year end. I will have to pick up a new spare pair for the coming year. I had hook files that actually filed this year. YAY! Two new ones were not bad out of the package this time around.

    Other Observations

    Things started off slow with days of 2, 2, 2, 2 before a 4 fish day and then another 2 fish day before we lit things up with 8. After that it was relatively steady, but still a few slow days. Besides the 10 fish day, there was a 9 fish day and a couple of 7 fish days to go with the aforementioned 8 fish day.

    We didn’t catch as many really big pike as usual, but others during the fall had HUGE pike in size and numbers. Pike fishery is still very strong.

    We didn’t do as much rod pumping this year. I think it was mainly due to the cold, but when we did, it was not noticeably more effective than using a rod holder. Deano pumped and pumped again this year and picked up the rear in fish landed. I’m still convinced this is a better way to go for overall efficiency. Even if you get less snags and pop them off quicker when you go get hung up, it will save you time and keep your baits in the strike zone more.

    Special Thanks
    Some of these will be repeating year after year so humor me a bit......

    Dick Moore (Moore’s Lure) -- leaders and hooks. I ordered 100 replacement 5/0 hooks to add to the dozen or two I already had and didn’t have a single one left in the box after the final day of fishing. Thanks again, Dick.

    Bob Schmidt: Just Encase tackle boxes. I wouldn’t want to muskie fish without them!

    Thorne Bros Custom Rod & Tackle: Love their rods and service for everything else!

    To the Godfather, Brad, Tink, Tom, Dave, Lambeau, Saint, Jordan, Mitch, Barry, Jeff H, John, Deano and Jeff M for making the trip to Lake of the Woods and spending time in the Pooh boat so I never had to go out alone again. You guys are all awesome!!

    Final Thoughts
    When I think of everything that has transpired during the past few years, I still marvel at where I am compared to where I have been. The resort is looking like it will be my life’s work and I will always look forward to playing a small part in the enjoyment everyone gets on their vacations to Mylie’s and Lake of the Woods. As much as I love what I do, I’m not sure I’d be able to do it year in and year out without this special time of the year to look forward to. The time of year I can get out on the water and chase fish like the rest of our guests that come up during the season. There have been a few changes and it led to a bit of a different “program” for the late fall this year. The comments and understanding shown by our guests (regular and new alike) was awesome and only reinforced the feelings that we have the best overall group of guests and customers in the industry. I’m lucky to be able to serve you all and look forward to getting back to it after some rest, relaxation and recharging over the winter. Thank you to all of you that help make it possible for me to do what I do. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if not this. It has become who I am.

    Lastly, I’d like to salute a friend that is “retiring” from the fall trolling game. After a short, but spectacular career over 2 seasons, John Kennedy will not be planning another late fall trip. Having moved to the warm confines of Florida to enjoy his retirement, John is giving up his seat in the Pooh boat. After spending 10 days over the past 2 falls in the boat with John, I feel like I’m going to be missing a lifelong fishing partner. I had the distinct pleasure of netting several big fish John (including personal bests two years in a row of 51.75” and 52”) and count many of those days as my best ever days on the water. I will look forward to seeing you down in Florida some winter in the future, John. Thank you for joining Dean and I the last two years. It won’t be the same without you!

    Lots of video footage to keep me busy. I promise plenty of Youtube stuff starting in early 2014!

    Thanks for reading and following along with my wild and crazy obsession with big toothy critters.

    Cheers

    J-Man 2.0
    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 2008
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Thanks again for an excellent report Justin! You put a lot of effort into it and it was fun to read.
    Steve

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