As cooler temperatures approach and leaves begin to change, musky will get more active as they beef up for winter, making it the perfect time to target these elusive fish. With the below bait selections in mind you can increase your chances of catching the fish of a lifetime.
Before we get into what baits to throw and how to work them it’s important to understand what the musky is up to this time of year.
The main thought on a muskies mind during the fall is forage. They need to find and eat as many fish as possible to prepare them for a lethargic winter ahead. Finding areas that hold numbers of bait fish is key.
A common area that will hold baitfish and in turn musky are the last remaining healthy vegetation spots. All types of fish will be attracted to the elevated oxygen levels around growing vegetation instead of the majority of plants that have already started to die off. Generally, the vegetation that sticks around the longest is located in deeper water where some current is present.
Another area that attracts fish of all kinds during the fall are shallow rock areas. Rocks hold heat on sunny fall days which will warm the surrounding waters just enough to attract cold blooded fish to the area. With a congregation of baitfish in one area it will attract predators like the musky.
Another tried and true method to finding bait is to drive around looking for them. They are hard to miss when you idle around the lake with 2D or Side Imaging running. You can even locate them by scanning the water surface with your eyes looking for commotion. There is a good chance you will see predatory fish already taking advantage of the grouped-up bait.
Fall Bait Options
Fall bait choices for musky share similar characteristics. You want to look for baits that can be worked slower. Musky, just like every other fish, become more lethargic as the water temps cool. This is also the time of year to throw those bigger baits. Musky are looking to fatten up and they would rather go after one large meal instead of a few smaller meals. Where permittable the bigger lure choice could land you that trophy fish.
Both casting and trolling are viable options for catching fall musky. We are going to cover the best fall bait choices for both methods.
Casting Baits: The best for when you want to pick apart a piece of structure and work an area thoroughly.
Jerkbaits: These are perfect for imitating dying or wounded bait fish. The key to a fall jerkbait is a suspending or slow rise on the pause. The near motionless action mixed with quick jerks are the perfect mix to trigger a musky to bite.
Best Jerkbait Options for Fall Musky:
Big Plastics: These baits are versatile in virtually every scenario but excel when you are focusing on deeper water. Once you make a long cast, count down the sinking speed to the desired depth. Common retrieves are a straight retrieve or a jerk/pause motion.
Best Plastics for Fall Musky:
Shallow Crankbaits: These are great lures to use when you want to pick apart specific pieces of shallow structure. In the Fall, slow rolling across rock and gravel is a must. Make sure to bump the hard structure you are fishing around. The deflections and sound the bait make are what will trigger a strike.
Best Shallow Crank Baits for Fall Musky:
Trolling Baits: This is a great option when you are looking to cover lots of water. Zigzagging across specific areas or paralleling structure are great approaches when using this type of presentation.
Big Crankbaits: These are great trolling baits since they push a lot of water and can reach depths that may be difficult with the standard casting retrieve. Focus in on high percentage spots like weed edges, humps, ditches, or deep rock where musky could be lurking. Make multiple passes with an S curve motion for optimal coverage on those spots.
Best Trolling Crankbaits for Fall Musky:
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