From the January 2012 issue

Canadian Muskie Success

By Jim Saric


We had been sitting out a thunderstorm for about two hours and I was anxiously awaiting an opportunity to start filming an episode for my Musky Hunter television show. Of course, once a big storm passes, the wind switches and temperatures commonly get slightly colder and you never know what to expect.
    We hit the water, fishing hard for three hours with no results. Working down a shoreline there was a small bay with a patch of tobacco cabbage weeds in the back. I made a bomb cast with my Cowgirl past the weeds, and as the bait bulged through the cover, the weeds parted and the giant muskie was in hot pursuit of the lure. I accelerated the lure to engage the fish and she quickly closed in on the bait. One big figure-eight turn at boatside and the fish inhaled the bait. The battle was on and quickly we boated and released a beautiful 52-incher. It’s the experience that we all dream about when fishing in Canada.
    Although we can’t fish Canada now, this is the best time to plan your Canadian adventure. To make the most of it, there are a few things you can do to really increase your odds at catching a giant muskie. The sportshows are really fun to attend, but if you are thinking about going to Canada, I would recommend doing some on-line research before you get to the shows. Check out the Musky Hunter directory at or These are great places to narrow your quest. Afterall, there are lots of great opportunities in Ontario. Believe me, western Ontario is not the only place with giant muskie.
    Once you have a general idea(s) of a destination or a couple potential destinations, seek out resorts at those sportshows you attend that are located on those waters, and not only meet the resort owner to see if you “click,” but also examine the muskie photos. Pay close attention to the date of the catches. Resorts will often bring books of photos from previous seasons. Examine them as well, and again pay attention to the dates of the catches. You are trying to determine when the best time to fish the water based upon historical catch dates.
    I can tell you that every water has a few weeks every year when the muskie are much more catchable, and this is the easiest way to find out. It’s not that you can’t catch muskie at other times, but sometimes are just better than others.
    You then have to determine if you can vacation during that “best” muskie time. If you are looking at a couple different destinations, depending upon your availability and the best muskie fishing, maybe only one of the destinations is the best fit for you. So, based upon muskie photos alone you can determine the location that’s going to give you the best results.
    Once you have decided upon a time and destination, you then have to pick the resort. There are lots of great Canadian resorts, but everyone has different styles and preferences. So take the time to look at the brochures, visit the owners and determine which one best suits your style and schedule.
    I would definitely say that it’s worth spending a little more money to stay at a place that better suits your schedule and style than a cheaper place that’s not what you need. Yes, you are on vacation and most have a budget, but it seems that expenses have a way of creeping up on you, no matter where you go; and some of the lower-cost resorts my toss in some unexpected expenses that might just ruin your overall experience. Take the time to select a resort that works for you and is close to the muskie fishing action.
    Figuring out the best areas also requires talking to resort owners, past guests, a little Internet investigation via the various muskie fishing message boards, and even contacting the Canadian guides during the winter months. Most guides will talk freely about their waters at this time. Plus, I highly recommend fishing with a local muskie guide early in the week. It will give you a good lesson in navigation and give you a feel for the types of spots to fish. Don’t just rely on the guide’s spots during the week. Use them as a base. The beauty of Ontario is that you can explore and find new spots. Examine the spots you fish with your guide and try and replicate them. There are lots more that look similar and most likely they are holding muskie as well.
    Finally, during the winter months make sure you purchase the correct lures and colors you’ll need for your trip, as well as duplicates of some lures that you won’t be able to live without if they get lost. Likewise, you’ll need to make sure your equipment is in tip-top condition. If you need a new rod or reel, buy it. Believe me, fishing a day here-or-there is no big deal with equipment on the brink of failure. However, being in Ontario, Canada—land of the giant muskie—with a reel that sounds like a coffee grinder is a recipe for disaster.
    Success is where preparation meets opportunity. Make the most to prepare for your Canadian trip during the winter and you increase your odds at catching a giant this summer.


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