Judas Bait Muskies

How to Lure Fish into Betraying Their Presence

One of our best muskie baits so far this season has been a Magician — literally and figuratively. It is a surface lure made by Port Perry, Ontario-based Fish Whistle Lures and at first glance, you would think it is just like any other walk-the-dog style stick bait. The difference, however, is when you spot a big toothy critter following the lure, you can rip it down and work it in front of the fish’s face as a subsurface glide bait. So, it is two completely different lure styles in one. Now, are you ready for this: we’ve only caught a handful of fish on it so far. If that sounds like a contradiction, it is not, because the lure has functioned remarkably well as a Judas bait.

Use big surface baits to use to get muskies to show themselves and then return later and catch them. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

If you’re not familiar with the term, it is a lure that excites the fish and calls them in from far away, getting them to show or betray their presence, hence the name. Bass anglers, in particular, preparing for tournaments will routinely remove the hooks from their baits during practice — or cover them with hollow plastic tubing — so they can’t inadvertently sting or hook them when it doesn’t count. They will cast the Judas baits with the sole intention of getting the bass to betray themselves and show the angler where they’re hiding. Then they will go back during the tournament and catch them.

(Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

A few days ago, my grandson Liam and I were fishing a lush deep weedline on a Sunset Country lake. Liam was casting a double-bladed #10 Handlebarz bucktail, while I was pitching and ripping a Water Wolf Gator Tube. At the end of the 100-yard stretch of grass, we hadn’t seen, felt or raised anything, so I turned around the Kingfisher and made another quick pass. This time I was throwing the Magician and less than halfway down the weedline, a gorgeous muskie shot out from the cabbage and chased after the bait. I immediately pulled the Magician underwater and ripped it glide bait-style, and the muskie followed it to the side of the boat where it circled half-heartedly, despite my desperate figure-eight attempt, before sliding away. But, like Judas, after whom the technique is named, the big toothy critter had betrayed itself. So, I hit the waypoint button on the Helix Chartplotter to lock in the fish’s location and Liam and I left.

Once you know the location of a big fish, rest it until the conditions are ideal at moon rise and sunset. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

I should mention, at this point, that when I raise a nice fish and it slinks away halfheartedly during the figure eight, I don’t like to whip the water into a froth casting a variety of other baits trying to coax it to bite. I will if there are a lot of other boats around and I don’t think I can guard the fish until I return later. But on most big waters in Northern Ontario, it is rare to be bothered this way by other anglers. So, I restrain myself from putting the fish on guard and instead of bombarding it with lures, I pull away and leave. But, you can be sure that I’ll return as stealthily as possible in the afternoon or evening — especially at moonrise or sunset— and try to catch it when it is in a more aggressive feeding mood.

And that is what happened this day when Liam and I returned about three hours later as we were working our way back home. Knowing precisely where the fish had been positioned earlier in the day, we resisted casting our way onto the spot and possibly spooking the fish. But when we were properly positioned, we started pitching our lures precisely and scanning the area behind our baits like eagles, expecting to see the fish on every cast.

Returning to the spot where you raised a nice northern pike will also pay good dividends. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

I hooked it off a totally nothing-looking nondescript piece of shoreline with no weeds, boulders or cover whatsoever. It was a simple flat bedrock slope that you would never have fished unless you had first used a Judas bait to get the fish to betray itself.

The verdict? Definitely worth it.

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.

Recommended Articles

Don't Let the Name Perch Lake Fool You

These Northern Ontario waters are packed with northern pike like you'll never believe, abundant gourmet walleye, and yellow perch await.

Muskie Moons

More than just superstition?

Loch Ness Fishing

Loch Island Lodge is an Angler's Dream

Pot of Golden Walleye

Fishing at Whitefish Lodge in Ontario's Algoma Country

Become a World-class Fishing Guide

Misconceptions, behind-the-scenes intel, and key tips from a professional guide.

Exclusive Video

How To Zero In On Lake Trout

Wabigoon Walleye Extreme

Trophy-sized Walleye in the 30" Class

Ontario Brown Trout Fishing

It may be the best fishing on earth.

Kashabowie Bass Blast

Fishing for Walleye, Northern Pike and Bass in Ontario's Superior Country

5 Deadliest Fishing Lures

Use these lures when ice fishing for lake trout in Northern Ontario.

Top 5 Flies for Smallmouth Bass

The inside scoop on bass flies from the hosts of The New Fly Fisher.

3 Great Ontario Walleye Destinations

Karl of Extreme Angler recommends must do walleye lakes in Ontario.

Bobber-Whacky Magic

Don't Say Good-bye To The Bobber

Top 5 Musky Destinations in Ontario

The Musky Hunter shows you where to land the best musky in Ontario waters.

Fishing and Foraging

Add some fresh foods and forage to your fishing adventures!

Ontario Brook Trout

Fish these 10 sweet spots.

Terrestrial Flies for Brook Trout

These fish feed like crazy and look for opportunities for a big protein meal.

Top 10 Ice Fishing Lakes

Every kind of fish and experience—Ontario ice fishing is some of the best in the world.

7 Ways to Land Your Catch

With a little patience and a little know-how, landing fish doesn’t have to be a nail-biting experience.

Adventure Walleye Fishing Lake Nipigon Style

Fishing 411 Television visits Pasha Lake Cabins