Musky fishing can leave you frustrated, and staring down the business end of a bottle while trying to recap the day’s failures. We have all been there, some more than others. Most fly anglers who try it end up with one of two outcomes. It’s either “to Hell with this shit” and back to match the hatch land, or you’re making horrible decisions in life only thinking about your next fix.
This is what confuses me to this day. I’ll see a die-hard musky angler who has retrieved thousands of casts in a variety of ways to trigger a predacious response, forget all he has learned from fishing for musky when out for smallmouth bass or even trout. That traditional switch, so to speak, is automatically flipped. Many are not aware of it, I sure wasn’t.
We have to ask why, when we decide to give the 10 and 12 weights a break, do we also sideline the techniques we’ve learned from going after the apex asshole in the water.
Armed with this new knowledge taken from my drunken epiphany the night before, I began to target bass very much like I was out for musky. Instead of targeting basic feeding lanes in seems that I knew held average sized fish, I focused on the “D” water. The “D” water is ugly to most looking for the serene. It involved casting around down trees and back eddies that did not have as much visual appeal for most.
This is where I started to throw small to medium sized flies that I had originally tied for the esox, for trophy sized smallies. As with targeting any apex predator in freshwater rivers, they take a lot more effort; sometimes leaving the takeout empty handed, so to speak. The numbers aren’t there, but that’s what makes the reward that much sweeter.
If there is one thing I have learned out on the river, it’s that a predator is a predator; no matter what the species. I began to cross over tactics for musky into my trout and bass fishing, and I must say, it has paid off.
By Ben Rogers
Owner and Head Guide
Chasing Tails Fly Fishing