Dive and Rise Muskies

Ontario offers the best muskie fishing anywhere—and fall is the prime time to catch your fish of a lifetime.

Ontario offers the finest muskie fishing on Earth and there is no better time to catch the trophy of a lifetime than the next two months. It is all about the big toothy critters’ summer home ranges breaking down and their fall territories coming into play. And if you talk to seasoned pros, like Lisa Goodier, one of the renowned Ottawa River Musky Factory guides or Chris Huskilson, the Product Specialist for Peterborough Pro Tackle, you will hear two phrases repeated constantly….dive and rise and pull and pause.

angler with muskie

(Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

“If I could only take one lure with me on a fall muskie trip,” says Goodier, “it would be a 14-inch Frankensuick. It has an adjustable weighting system that lets you switch from 6.7- to 11 ounces. You can also fine-tune the running depth by bending the metal tail. When you do this you can work the lure over shallow weeds or get it down five or six feet in the water column. The dive and rise action imitates an injured or dying baitfish and the hang time gets the big muskies excited.”

angler holding muskie fish

Chris Hulkinson opts for large tube jigs when the water temperature dips in the fall. (Photo credit: Chris Huskilson )

Huskilson, on the other hand, opts for big 10- and 12-inch Red October Monster tube jigs to smack knee-knocking muskies. And he concentrates his time on the water to the afternoon hours, when the big bite window often opens up widely.

“When the water temperature drops below 60° F / 15° C my big tube rod rarely leaves my hands,” he says. "I love fishing tubes in current, where I can focus on areas with abrupt depth changes, eddies and breaks. But I will also fish tubes over the basin. A hard bottom is essential and if there are bass around, I know I’m fishing in a high percentage area.”
angler holding fish
(Photo credit: Chris Huskilson )

To get the erratic pull and pause gliding action that is so successful, Huskilson says a long powerful muskie rod is essential.

“I’ve started using a 9’5” heavy action Daiwa Prorex rod teamed up with a Prorex reel spooled with a 100-pound test J-Braid X Grand line and I can throw the tubes further than I’ve ever been able to in the past. Tubes aren’t bottom contact or vertical jigging baits for me. I fish them very slowly, like super erratic glide baits, except they never move the same way twice.”
angler with fishing rod
Photo credit: Daniel Notarianni
anglers holding musky

Muskie guide, Lisa Goodier instructs her guests to always keep their rods in position to make a powerful sideways hookset. (Photo credit: Mike Spratt )

Goodier, too, opts for a stout muskie stick in the fall, picking an extra heavy action 9-foot Shimano Compre as her weapon of choice. But she keeps two reels in the boat, a 400 regular series Tranx and a high-speed version spooled with 80-pound test Power Pro.

“I use the high-speed reel late in the season,” she explains, “as I can still work dive and rise baits slowly. But the high gear ratio lets me pick up slack quickly as the hits often come during the pause. When the weather gets so cold that I am forced to wear gloves, I love the big power handle.”
anglers with fish

(Photo credit: Daniel Notarianni )

When I ask the two pros to give me a final fall tip to land the biggest fish of your life, Goodier says always keep your rod positioned for a good hook set. "I often see people with their rod tip near the windshield,” she chuckles.

“If a fish hits when you have it there, you have no choice but to set straight up which is the worse possible way. I’ve had guests straighten 7/0 hooks when they tried to set into the roof of a muskie’s mouth. So set hard, but always to the side.”
anglers holding large fish

(Photo credit: Mike Spratt )

“The best suggestion I can give,” says Huskilson, “is to always hit your tube on slackline while you are twitching it back to the boat. Fish it the same way you would a jerk bait or a walk-the-dog-style topwater for smallmouth. If you don’t hit it on a slackline, you’ll greatly limit the hang time and erratic action. I throw a lot of big rubber in the fall and nothing produces the numbers and size of fish for me like a tube. It’s a mainstay on my boat.”

Now, repeat after me: dive and rise and pull and pause.

About Gord Pyzer

Gord Pyzer is the fishing editor of Outdoor Canada magazine and field editor of In-Fisherman magazine. He is the co-host of the Real Fishing Radio Show and host of Fish Talk With The Doc.

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