Pull the trigger
But before you do, make sure you refresh your memory by scanning part 1.
Not only are big fish especially in clearer systems but certainly not resulted to, mind-bending at times under tough conditions, but each and every opportunity has to be taken advantage of. I believe figure 8s, L turns, ovals done correctly is probably one of the single most important aspects of musky angling that determines overall success when it comes to casting presentations. Even more so the tougher the conditions the more important they become. The more active fish are “on” the higher the % of strikes out on the retrieve. Neutral fish are more apt to follow and % goes up that need to be triggered at boat side. We’ve boated enough fish over the past 25 yrs. To warrant these maneuvers during and after every cast no matter what type of water or conditions.
Equally important or more so because it considers the entire retrieve is the incorporation of a trigger move of some kind into each and every retrieves from start to finish before the bait gets to the boat. Make every opportunity your bait is in front of a fish count. The old saying” the biggest muskies are caught in the first and last 15’ of the retrieve” holds true most of the time and these areas are also where the trigger is also most important, so concentrate on incorporating them.
Start, mix-up mid-cast, and end your retrieve with separate triggers before going into your boat side maneuver. Triggers can be incorporated into every kind of bait, presentation, and situation. Get creative. Bucktails can be syncroed, burned in spurts, bulged and sputtered, yo-yo’d, ripped,etc., cranks and jerks can be bounced and skipped off the structure, ripped through weeds, jerked, twitched, paused, same with all baits and situations. With rubber, the possibilities are practically endless. You are the magician, the rod is the wand, the bait is the rabbit, and the fish are the audience. Incorporate triggers into every retrieve along with perfecting your boat side maneuvers (that’s another whole chapter) and you’ll see your catch rates skyrocket as you do.
Same goes for trolling. When rips are coming tough don’t be afraid to skip and bounce baits off rocky points and reefs, speed up, slow down, vary your line lengths and depths, make lots of turns, etc. Keep rods in your hands whenever possible and stay in tune with the bait, work it. Obviously, some speed trolling and multi-rod sets rule this out but even in multi-rod sets, I’d have at least a couple rods being worked. They will usually out produce all the other rods. It also gives you way more control of you baits and provides a constant trigger going on as you cover ground, helps keep you from snagging because you’ll be able to give and take line as depths and bouncing or not changes, and you’ll know your lure is working or not by the vibrations felt when trolling around weeds and can actually steer it in-between and around weed clumps using the rod tip. The plus is you get to feel the strike too. If a musky rises up on a high riding bait (especially spinnerbaits with bright blades or top waters) you can immediately pull it away or drop it back into her face as a trigger. Working your baits adds participation and concentration and definitely results in increased strikes and hook ups.
Remember that the success and ultimately the reward/enjoyment/satisfaction you seek from this sport is all relative to not only what you know or how experienced you are but also to the conditions you are faced with. As they say, “even a tough day fishing is still better than an easy day at work”!