Evan Gregor: More than enough time to target muskies
Shorter days and colder nights remind us that open water fishing season is nearing its end. Don't fret though: There is more than enough time left to catch a musky.
Musky, short for muskellunge, are the most notorious of all freshwater fish, and that isn't likely to change anytime soon. These fish are the top of the freshwater food chain, and their size, scarcity and strength make them the pinnacle for those that target them.
While fall is a great time to target most of the species in our region, it is the primary time to target muskies. Because muskies are very vulnerable to strain in warm water, they are generally not a good target species during the popular summer fishing months.
However, come fall, muskies become more aggressive in cooler water and are much less likely to perish when caught.
Around the fall cooldown, there are a wide variety of methods and tactics that work well for targeting muskies. For those that like to fish live bait, soaking a big sucker underneath a bobber on a quick-strike rig is a time-honored method that has produced great results.
Suckers can be fished stationary near weeds or structure or dragged slowly off the side of the boat.
Should you wish to target muskies with lures, you're in luck. There have been tons of new musky lures to come on the market over the years, and a lot that are practical to fall angling. Old classics like bucktails and jerkbaits reign supreme, but newer jigging baits and umbrella rigs have also given anglers a chance to fish vertically for big muskies.
There is a common misconception that muskies aren't found outside of the northern reaches of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada.
In reality, distribution of muskies is fairly wide, and the greater Chicagoland area is one of many places in which muskies have a sizable presence.
Of all the locales in the area that hold muskies, none are likely more prolific than the Fox Chain O' Lakes. The number of muskies that the Chain holds makes it a true gem, and the amount of quality fish in it is nothing to sneeze at either.
Marie, Petite and Channel Lakes are some of the more popular lakes to target in the Chain. Muskies can also be found throughout the rest of the Fox River as well.
Other popular waters for musky in our area include Shabbona Lake, Sterling Lake and lakes in Southern Wisconsin like Silver, Pewaukee, Okauchee and Geneva.