Muskie Marks Wisconsin Fishing Musky Guide Service for Lake Redstone, Castle Rock Flowage, Lake Petenwell Flowage and the Wisconsin River. Fishing reports, musky fishing articles, muskie fishing tips and musky fishing news with professional Wisconsin fishing guide Mark Saemisch.

Fishing Tips & Articles
by Fishing Guide Mark Saemisch aka "Muskie Mark"

Throwing a change up
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I’ve had plenty of days where everything fell in to place as if the planets were aligned perfectly and the Musky Gods were smiling down upon my boat. Or maybe it was the fact that I was doing everything right because that is what I knew worked best where I was at, for that time. I might add that some of these times seem stupendous in comparison to others; like when my client and I caught three fish in fifteen minutes; while having numerous follows all day long.

It’s times like this that make a musky fisherman keep on the water, casting like a machine, hoping to enjoy thrills like this one. The truth be known that our success had nothing to do with the planets, other than maybe moon phase. We had hard follows all day. We were back on our spot on the spot sort of speak, when we threw the two gaudiest looking buck tails I could find in my boxes. I figured it’s the end of the day, maybe they need to see something different. I handed Chris a pink Mepps and I used a purple with bright yellow and orange blades. As soon as the lures hit the water we saw action. The light was changing as we were seeing, not only follows but fish swiping mad at these two lures dressed in drag. All of a sudden Chris had one hit right at boat side. Right away it leaped through the air and shook the lure out. Then on the next cast or so he had another one on. This time we got it in the boat. It measured 38 inches. We knew the action was hot, so the picture and release went really fast.

We started swatting the water again right away he gets another one, this time a 39 incher. As soon as it was in the water He had another follow, which hit on my figure eight. Believe it or not, a 40 incher! It was like musky fishing on Sesame St., thirty eight, thirty nine, and forty. I couldn’t believe it. Boy did we laugh at that. I will never forget it, but the thing that stuck out in my mind was that even though I’ve had plenty of luck at the end of the day before, this time was different. These fish were extremely excited as they followed and swiped. I believe it was the pink and purple lures. I believe that we would not of gotten as many fish had we been throwing black buck tails. The something different put them over the edge.

More often than not, for most fishermen (myself included) you may be at the right place at the right time according to past experiences or by what you’ve read in magazines but you have yet to see any fish. This is when you need to change what you are doing. This is  what I call throwing a change up. The toughest thing about throwing a change up is realizing when you need to do it. This is also harder if you are the only one in the boat, because you can only change one thing at a time while trying to realize a pattern.

If you have three people in the boat then you can all throw a different change into the works, thus speeding up the process of eliminating what not to do. Never have two people doing the same exact thing until a pattern emerges. Then deciding what to change is the next step. Do I change speed of presentation, or the whole presentation? Maybe I’m in the wrong spot. 

Sometimes the window of opportunity is an hour or two off. If you are not alone, stay open to suggestions you never know who may have the right idea. One indication of not being there at the right time might be some lazy follows, but no commitments. If you think this may be the case, then this doesn’t mean you camp on the same idea while waiting for time to pass by. You can try subtle change ups like casting at a fish from a different direction or changing the speed of your lure, or the depth. I would try some of these first then try a different lure, all the time paying attention to how a fish reacts on a follow. Was the fish lazy or hard after it? Then leave that fish alone and come back in an hour or at dusk or
dawn. Then throw the change up.  

Throw the change up that got you your best follow. You might have to throw something totally off the wall like a pink buck tail. Some days you just have to work a little harder for a fish in the boat. Just go about it with an organized approach.

Too many times people get into the robot casting mode and end up casting all day with little or no results. Meanwhile getting frustrated and loosing touch with everything they ever read or learned about musky fishing. Don’t let this happen to you. You need to get a good thought process going in your head before you even hit the boat landing. So think about it on the way there. Your thought process is what you want to be able to do naturally without hesitation, not casting aimlessly like a robot. Stamina is good, because you need to be able to cast like a machine. Just don’t have the same mind set as a machine while you’re doing it.

Here’s a tip for throwing a change up, especially if you are on new water. Keep a pair of binoculars in the boat. Pay attention to what you do on every cast. What I mean by this is you have to look for follows every time you bring it in. If you do get action you should have paid attention to what you were doing that got the action. Was I reeling fast or slow? If I was trolling and had action on a turn was it on the out side or inside of the turn? This would indicate if the fish wanted it fast or slow. I don’t do much trolling my self, but I threw that in to make some of you to think out side the box. To be successful in musky fishing you need to pay attention to what you are doing and what is going on all the time. Make every cast count with a good figure eight. Look for follows on every cast. Also look to other boats in the area if you see someone spending extra time on a figure eight, this is where your binoculars come in handy. Maybe the other boat half patterned something for you already, and they don’t even know it. But you’ll know it if you paid attention. Look at everything that they are doing. Seems pretty ruthless I know, but I’m out there to catch, fish not turn my reel!

I’ll go over a few other change ups with you to get you started. If you have wind or current in your favor, try drifting over a spot from a distance, with the fish finder off. Trolling motors and transducers make noise. Sometimes fish are a bit finicky. I find this a lot during mid days when all the jet skis are out in the summer. It helps unless the jet skis are getting too close. If the fish are acting skittish they will be driven deeper. Also it’s dangerous for you and the jet skis to be that close. Here’s another good reason to have the binoculars, so you can report things of this nature to the local authorities. If you get the registration numbers off the side, this should solve the problem for you in the future, at least.

Another change up is from shallow to deep. Now this doesn’t always mean real deep. Sometimes the fish just move out to the weed edge or the drop off. I find this to be the case just after mornings, because I fish a lot of stained water. I usually start off shallow in the morning due to higher D.O. (Dissolved Oxygen) in the shallow when the sun comes up. This is the only place where plant life grows good on stained water, because they need sunlight. At night there is no sunlight, but right away in the morning there is. At this time you will have photosynthesis, which makes D.O. in the water. All fish need this. As the day wears on there is more heat in the shallows and there is more boating pressure. This may cause bait fish and muskies to go deeper in weed cover or near the drop off. This is where you may need to change up and go out a little deeper, or work your lure deeper into the weeds. I find that using a safety pin style spinner works good for this. The trick is to let it go down into the weeds then point your rod straight at your lure 

The trick is to let it go down into the weeds then point your rod straight at your lure and reel. If you move your rod tip to one side or the other, the bait will twist and catch weeds. If done right your lure will burst through the weeds, and keep going. Sometimes this will provoke strikes.

Many times when you’re fishing wind blown pieces of structure, and not having any luck, try casting to the back side of them. If that isn’t working try playing the role of the bait fish and cast into the wind and bring your lure into the slack water behind the structure, from the ruff stuff. This will look more natural. I say this because I have found that big fish take advantage of these conditions by staging on the back sides of structure, in the slack water. Then they let the weather bring tired bait fish to them. It has worked for me often. Also on lakes where there is a real defined weed edge all around the lake, and casting to the wind blown side isn’t working, try going to the opposite side of the lake. Cast into the wind and bring it out of the weed edge, as this is your wind blown structure. Look injured. This also works well at times.

Another thing you want to look at is subtle changes with lures. Black buck tails work great on just about all water, but sometimes changing the size, shape or color of the blade does wonders. Other times a complete style of lure change is needed to fit the situation. Three fish in 15 Min. doesn’t lie. Maybe you’ll be the one to get 41, 42, and 43.

To sum things up in this article think about this stuff before you go out. This will get you in the mind set. Have a good plan, not just to start but have a plan of change ups that you will try. If what you are doing is not working, then you need to execute your changes. Always be aware of what is going on around you, on every cast, retrieve, follow and  watch what other people are doing. Your follows need extra attention and so do your figure eights. All you have to do then is role with the punches, as to what you will need to change. When it all falls into place, remember to just take a picture.

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Muskie Marks Wisconsin Fishing Musky Guide Service for Lake Redstone, Castle Rock Flowage, Lake Petenwell Flowage and the Wisconsin River. Fishing reports, musky fishing articles, muskie fishing tips and musky fishing news with professional Wisconsin fishing guide Mark Saemisch.

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© Muskie Marks Wisconsin Fishing Musky Guide Service for Lake Redstone, Castle Rock Flowage, Lake Petenwell Flowage and the Wisconsin River. Fishing reports, musky fishing articles, muskie fishing tips and musky fishing news with professional Wisconsin fishing guide Mark Saemisch.