Episode 294: Spring Salmon and Georgian Bay Muskie
Today, the Mercury Marine Destination is Lake Ontario near St. Catharines for Salmon, then Muskie from Georgian Bay. First, Charlie takes out his roomy Crestliner 2250 Authority and ventures out deep for Salmon. The Crestliner 2250 Authority is one of the largest boats in the Crestliner fleet. At 22 feet 11 inches, this boat has an amazing open water fishing design. A front casting deck still allows for front fishing, but it is the huge open floor design that will amaze those looking at this boat for Great Lakes trolling. A raised 20 gallon insulated live well is centred at the back against the tall splash well. Removal jump seats in both the back Starboard and Port corners will allow the anglers to move to the extreme back corners of the Authority for netting fish or rigging lines. Rod storage and tackle storage areas around the boat, including an in-floor storage area will keep your tackle neatly stored and ready for use. This well thought out design will keep the Crestliner Authority a popular boat for years to come!
Fishing deep is often necessary for Salmon and the Cannon Downriggers are some of the best. Low battery drain, fast, and the oh so helpful feature of automatic stop at the surface. Charlie has been relying on the Hot Spot Agitators to attract Salmon for years and today is no different, A double agitator is used and run off the Downrigger weight. Charlie has a one - two punch that has been working like a charm. This spinning flasher does not add much resistance. It spins at a slow controlled speed looking like a tight school of bait, or the flash of a feeding fish, either way it draws in feeding and curious Salmon and Lake Trout. When the fish are aggressive, they come charging in to see what the flash is all about. Today, running a double Agitator from the ball, with a glow spoon only 10 - 15 feet back is lethal for the hungry fish looking to see what all the fuss is about. They come in to see the flash of the double Hot Spot Agitators, turn when they get close and see a spoon tumbling in an injured way, and slam it.
Now, not all fish are aggressive at the same time, but no matter how you look at it, the Hot Spot Agitator still draws attention and brings the fish in, even if some Salmon and Lake Trout keep a safer distance back while still being curious. They see the flash, but stay back or off to the sides. For this reason, on the other side of the boat, Charlie runs a single spoon, 75 - 80 feet back. No Agitators, no other attractors, just a single spoon. This way, the curious Salmon see a lone tempting spoon, all by itself away from the flash, away from the boat, looking like it has been injured and fell back away from the safety of the tight school ( flash of the Agitators ) , and is easy pickings, even for the inactive, not so aggressive fish. This one - two punch has been dynamite!
The Seaguar Abrazx 20 lb test main line fluorocarbon is tremendous as a downrigger line, it is invisible, highly abrasion resistant and shows next to no damage at all from the wear of the release clips, but the last 6 or 7 feet of line does tend to get all the damage from fish, nets or anglers standing on the line while taking fish from the net. Seaguar 100% fluorocarbon is next to invisible to the fish, the refraction index of Seaguar fluorocarbon is very close to the refraction index of water itself, so when it is in the water, it looks like water. But when it gets twisted or scuffed a little, it can lose the invisible qualities. For this reason, Charlie keeps pre-tied leaders handy as a quick replacement. Seaguar goes the extra mile to spool the fluorocarbon with level wind technology, this is spooling the fluorocarbon in such a way that it doesn't cross and crease into itself, keeping the fluorocarbon perfect and invisible with no added scuffs or creases to reflect light.
Then later in the Show, don't panic when that fish of a lifetime Muskie finally shows itself, stay calm and as long as you don't have obstructions or thick weeds to worry about, don't play a tug of war game with it. Trust your hook set is in and don't yank or apply too much pressure that only succeeds to tear larger holes allowing the hooks to fall out. Folks tend to panic, try to stay calm. With almost everyone using braided lines for Muskie now, hooksets are not the issue and softer rods that absorb head shakes without ripping holes are better suited. The broom stick rods of past years are not needed for every aspects of Muskie fishing anymore, they still have a purpose, but not for everything.
Fairly new to the Crestliner line up is the 1950 Fish Hawk, this fishing machine is a perfect all round fishing boat, ideally suited for multi species. A large front casting deck is matched with a roomy cockpit for those who also troll. A popular option is the 57 inch livewell that has been put to good use on many occasions. This 19 foot 6 inch Crestliner, complete with a 101 inch beam is a very capable fishing machine. While maximum horsepower is 225hp, it does wonderfully with the Mercury 150hp. This motor is a true powerhouse and matches up perfectly keeping the costs of the total package reasonable.
It is also important to have a stealthy approach, and the Minn Kota Ulterra I-Pilot is as quiet as it gets. Not only does this new motor self deploy and self raise ( no more bending and pulling - ideal for those of us getting older or have back issues) , but when you understand how much better the fishing is when you are quiet, you just shake your head when you see a fellow angler throw the anchor, or fly into the fishing grounds and expect fish to hit immediately. The Minn Kota I-Pilot even eliminates the need for an anchor. Spot Lock keeps you directly on your spot, no anchors, even in the wind. How great is this feature for staying on your spot and concentrating on what you are doing!
Aside from making the best Fluorocarbon in the world, Seaguar also makes a world class braid and the Seaguar Smackdown in 50 lb test is a wonderful line that is slick and casts like a dream. The 50lb test is perfect for small to medium sized bucktails used today. As for leaders, check out the new Seaguar Abrazx Pike and Muskie leader material, it is invisible to the fish and highly abrasion resistant. Being thicker than wire, when big Pike and Muskie roll in the 100 or 130 lb leader material, it doesn't dig in and cut like wire can, much better on the fish for healthy releases. As an extra bonus, it doesn't dig into the angler's hand either when maneuvering smaller fish at boat size for releasing, totally a win, win for all.