On this Fish’n Canada episode, Angelo and Pete start by asking the question, “How would you rather catch a muskie: casting, or trolling?”
Remember, this is the fish of 10,000 casts.
Although Pete and Ang will be the first to say they are not muskie experts, they will also tell you that they have tied into their share of these fantastic fighters and have the videos and pictures to prove it. They feel that the muskie is that majestic fish species that etches a special portion in an angler's life once encountered.
CANADIAN MUSKIE RANGE
The muskie’s range in Canada is somewhat limited. It is nowhere near the lake trout, northern pike, or the walleye’s distribution. In fact, as far as we know, they are pretty much nonexistent to the west, with only Quebec and New Brunswick and Ontario having any solid muskie history. This small, select portion of Canada is part of the reason the muskie is so popular.
WHAT ABOUT THE PANDEMIC, CAN WE STILL MUSKIE FISH?
With the mystique and allure of the muskie, it brings a huge economic boost to the country. COVID-19 altered the way we do everything in our lives, including fishing.
The upside to this though, is locals can still take advantage of this amazing fish species by taking a trip to some of the following destinations while making sure to adhere to health protocols.
Read on to discover what, on paper, calculates to be the country’s single best muskie area, and that is hands down the province of Ontario.
NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO MUSKIE
Now if you really want to take advantage of what we think is going to be a banner muskie season and want to try your luck in the number one muskie area in the entire universe, then you need to venture to the northwest portion of Ontario.
This area is so packed with muskie water, that it will blow your mind. From tiny little obscure lakes to massive complex water bodies, this area is like no other.
Where else, in a single area, can you run a lake-to-lake, head-to-head comparison of top-class muskie fishing destinations like Lake of the Woods, Lac Seul, Eagle Lake, the Indian Lake Chain, Wabigoon Lake, Cedar Lake, Little & Big Vermillion Lakes plus many, many more.
LAKE NIPISSING & THE UPPER FRENCH RIVER MUSKIE
Northwest Ontario is arguably the “hottest” muskie area in the world, we have no idea where else you would compare it to.
That said, if you travel further south in the province, that is when you get into specific water bodies that harbour true, world-class giants!
If you are looking for an absolute beast of a muskie, Lake Nipissing, the French River and Georgian bay—which are all connected, by the way—have put as many giant muskie on the bumper board, as pretty much anywhere else in the world.
Lake Nipissing and the Upper French are directly connected, making it a vast area to cover but, there’s always somewhere in this muskie mecca that will be protected enough, during even the nastiest of conditions.
Whether you troll or cast, this is a place that legendary muskie tales are created.
GEORGIAN BAY & THE LOWER FRENCH RIVER MUSKIE
Georgian Bay, along with the lower French, are two bodies of water that can intimidate even the best of anglers. Between rocks and big water, it’s hard to even find a starting point.
However, just like the Upper French and Nipissing, there are always protected areas from harsh elements. In our case, Mill Lake close to Killarney is a perfect area to try your hand at a Georgian Bay muskie. It is well protected, and it harbours some fantastic fish.
On our shoot there, Pete caught a giant Georgian Bay northern pike, a whack of smallmouth bass as well as the pictured below muskie.
What a phenomenal shoot!
OTTAWA RIVER MUSKIE
Getting back to the ultimate in muskie fishing locations, the Ottawa River is another amazing muskie factory that simply put, blows the minds of diehard addicts, season after season.
With a length of over 1,200 km, a Discharge of around 1,950 cubic meters of water per second and flanking both Ontario and Quebec, one would think that the Ottawa river was chocked full of muskie. The fact is their range is quite specific with the strongest numbers in the southern section of the river.
LAKE ST. CLAIR MUSKIE
Moving to the southwest portion of the province, the St. Clair River along with Lake St. Clair may well be the number one adjoining muskie waterbodies in the world when combining both numbers of fish and size. Lake St Clair used to be known as a muskie trolling destination, however, the trend has shifted towards casting as well. Now, it runs at about 50/50 and they both are highly effective techniques, in this Muskellunge-rich area.
ST. LAWRENCE RIVER
River systems play a huge role in Ontario’s trophy muskie world and that’s where we experienced the best muskie fishing of our lives, on the St. Lawrence River; possibly the #1 trophy-producing Muskie water of all time.
With the strong, continuous current always flowing to the east, St. Lawrence becomes not your average muskie water. Boat control becomes more difficult. Casting to a waypoint is often only for brief moments, always having to reposition. Trolling up-current might be too slow, and trolling down-current may be too fast. Or vice versa. Drifting is a great option but bottom-bouncing baits can and will get snagged in the rocks and wood.
Add to this, the food supply for the local muskies; well let’s just say it makes the Mandarin look like a joke!
But it’s all of these small hurdles, that make this place truly special.
WHAT FISHING TACTIC IS BEST FOR YOU?
Probably the biggest question, especially from novice anglers wanting to get into muskie fishing is, do I cast or do I troll?
This 100% depends on the angler’s skill level and their desire to work.
If you are at best, an occasional muskie angler or are a novice all-around angler wanting to target muskie, then trolling is our recommendation. With trolling you don’t have to worry about backlashes, extra-long leaders, figure eights and most of all, fatigue.
Essentially you can drop back a short amount of line directly behind the boat, put the rod in a holder (highly recommended) and wait. That lure will track perfectly in any direction the boat driver chooses. All you do is find the right speed (often faster than you’d think).
It truly is precision fishing.
If you put in the time and troll a bait like a Believer, eventually you will catch a muskie.
The alternative method to trolling is casting. This is for the more ambitious muskie angler. Heavy-duty baitcasting gear is a must here. If baitcasting intimidates you, then you best plant your butt back in the driver’s seat… and troll.
To us, the second hardest element of casting for muskie is constantly firing out big lures. Unfortunately, the hardest chore is bringing them back.
We have always said, our hats go off to the hardcore muskie addicts who insist on casting, during every outing.
By the way, there is a third muskie fishing method that works fantastic, when the conditions exist.
Drift fishing becomes a tremendous muskie fishing tactic in rivers or lake systems with strong currents.
“IF”, there is a better muskie fishing destination in the world than the province of Ontario, we’d appreciate getting the info, as we’d love to test that water.
Until then, we’re gonna stick with Ontario and keep the odds in our favour.
Remember everybody, as we’ve said over and over during our current 2020/2021 television season, be smart, be vigilant, be safe & barring any travel restrictions, go catch a giant muskie!
WANNA KNOW WHERE THE GUYS CAUGHT'EM?
Here are some Hotspots and Locations to look into:
Upper French River:
St Lawrence River:
Ottawa River muskie guides John Anderson is one of the nation’s top experts when it comes to fishing/guiding/targeting Canada’s #1 freshwater predator. Check out the following interview to hear more…
Check out this piece on Moonphase muskie:
Some of the coolest info on muskie spawning habits:
Canadian vs. American muskie & Handling of muskie