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The Day of Days: Predicting and maximizing feeding windows Print E-mail
Minaki News - Stories
Sunday, 11 April 2010 12:59

By J.J. Ross       

picture_060Why do you fish? Is it the serenity of nature? Is it the social aspect that comes with sharing the boat with your buddies? Is it to spend time with a good friend or a significant other? Or maybe just to get away from that significant other? I fish to catch more than I ever have or better my previous biggest fish. As a muskie angler I am in search of what I call the day of days! Please do not misinterpret this statement as I thoroughly enjoy drowning minnows or just hanging out with my wife and kids. Yet when I am chasing muskies, I genuinely feel that every time I get in the boat I have the opportunity for the day of days.

What is the day of days you may be wondering? I have tried to define it and come up with some criteria but it is hard to describe. Think about that for a moment. What would be your greatest accomplishment with respect to muskie fishing? Eventually you will come to the conclusion that the day of days will simply be the most incredible experience with fish literally jumping in the boat and fish of gigantic proportions all sizes striking anything you throw. I assume that when the day of days comes I will just know.

This past summer I had as close to the day of days as I can remember. It was absolutely amazing as my guests and I boated six muskies of 39, 42, 42, 44, 46 and 48 inches in six hours of fishing! Sounds almost fishy but when muskies decide to strap on the proverbial feedbag I pray I am on the water because anything is possible.

The purpose of this article is to give some insight on predicting when these feeding binges or “windows” are going to open and also what you can do to maximize your efforts when you find yourself experiencing one of these feeding windows. In other words have a better chance at the day of days.

Predicting feeding windows

Muskie fishing is obviously not an exact science. Just at that moment you think you have figured it all out and inevitably someone forgets to inform the fish. There are some key environmental factors that can help to predict when feeding windows may occur and you can begin to guess when there is a greater chance that a muskie will eat your bait.

Many anglers believe in the solar/lunar tables. Solar/lunar tables tell you when the moon and sun will rise and set and often give peak fishing times. Every major fishing publication has some form of solar/lunar tables. Some are based on years of information put together by anglers utilizing log books. I do not religiously follow the peak times since as a guide I have to be on the water when I am booked. In addition, I have never had the day of days coincide with these so-called peak times. Nevertheless, I do use the moon rise and moon set to ensure you are on a good spot when these daily occurrences take place and always follow the sun rise and sun set. Some anglers invest a lot of time into the solar/lunar tables. However If you only fished the peak times you would miss out on a lot of fishing time.

Another way to predict feeding window is to plan a trip around the full and new moon. Some muskie anglers will only book vacations when there is a full or new moon. So when you bid on your summer holidays this year, you can’t go wrong planning a trip to match the full or new moon.

Another item that may help to predict these feeding windows is a barometer. When the barometric pressure changes it can make for some really good fishing. A simple rule of thumb is if the barometer is moving, go fishing as a change in barometric pressure indicates some type of weather change. This just may be the change to necessary to open up a feeding window.

For me the number one pattern for predicting when the day of days might occur is the change in weather after a stretch of sweltering heat. If it stable, hot and humid for numerous days you can bet that a thunderstorm will follow and you may be I for the best fishing of your life. Generally the hot humid weather follows with a storm and this seems to trigger the muskies to bite. I don’t know why so I just go with it You can guarantee I will be on the water!

Maximizing feeding windows

So let's say that you find yourself in what you perceive to be a feeding window. There are a few things I like to do to maximize my chances of experiencing the day of days. There is nothing worse than being on the water during a feeding window and not taking full advantage of it. Trust me I learned the hard way over many years working at a resort. Inevitably you come in at the end of a long day with no muskies in the boat and you arrive back at camp only to find out that one of the other resort boats and another guide absolutely hammered the muskies. If you are competitive it drives you crazy that you can be out on the same water and suck air!

The first I like to do is run and gun when the bite is on and you can’t get to the spots fast enough. Blanket each spot with casts to find active fish. It helps to use

fast moving lures like a buck tails or fast-moving top water baits. This is not the time to finesse with soft plastics like Bulldawgs or use slow moving top waters like Creepers and Hawg Wobblers. It is time to pull out the speedy buck tails and and the  Top Raiders and other prop baits.

Another way to maximize a feeding window is to kick the trolling motor up a couple of notches and cover as much water as possible. This way you will be contact with more potential fish when they are feeding. Use a reel with a fast gear ratio. Make no mistakes this is tough to maintain this pace but who knows how long this window will be open. How does the cliché go? “No pain no Gain!”

Use a good hooking lure so that fish bite and remain on. Avoid lures with wood bodies and top water lures that are difficult for fish to track. Jerk baits are fun and there are spectacular hits with walk the dog style lures but they are poor hookers. Feeding windows are about getting eaten and keeping the fish on the line. If you must use jerk baits choose hard bodied plastics ones or if you must and top waters find one that tracks in a straight line.

Lastly make sure you hit your big fish spot often. Everybody should have a spot that they have either caught a big fish, consistently catch big fish, have seen a big fish or have just simply heard of a big fish at a spot. Often these are “community spots” or spots that see a lot of pressure from muskie anglers. Go here for sure. You can’t go wrong fishing the community spots after all the bite is on.

Conclusion

It is fun to predict when things are going to happen but don’t let it stop you from going out. Some anglers won’t go out because they feel the conditions are not perfect It is It is impossible to catch muskies from the couch in front of the television or curled up with a book.

Clients ask, “When is the best time to come fishing?" I always reply whenever you can as any time is a good time. The more you fish for muskies you begin to realize that there are more productive times to be on the water and you begin to predict when  you think a feeding window is going to present itself. However use the solar/lunar tables and a barometer to help. If the fish seem to be biting more than usual fish as many spots as you can, use a fast moving lure and make sure you hit your big fish spots. Good luck and I hope you have the day of days this season.