Muskies Matter Inc.

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Testimonials and Big Fish Stories Mark

The future musky fishermen and how they’re made.



Can you remember back to what it was that made you a musky fisherman? I bet if you think hard enough, it would have something to do with the fact that you started fishing. Now that you are a musky fisherman, I would like to pose another question. Have you ever done any thing to help improve your sport? I’m sure you probably have, as I’m not looking for a special answer here. If you have ever released a fish you have done something great. I would like to point out the importance of future musky fishermen. If taught how to fish properly, the people we teach can only benefit the great sport of musky fishing, this being said, then the more the merrier. How ever, if not taught correctly fishermen could do catastrophic damage to many fisheries. This would mean that kids would grow up in areas where they never catch a fish in their life. I’m pretty sure that this happens now especially to inner city kids and even adults. If you care about the future of musky fishing then you care about the future fisherman, what ever they end up fishing for.


The best time to start anybody off at any thing is when they are young. Muskie fishing might be a little tough to handle at a real young age, so I would start them off with a good old bluegill, perch or something in the pan fish family. Try going to a good farm pond where they can have fun catching a lot of fish. There needs to be plenty of action for most kids to hang in there, so try some shiny ice fishing jigs tipped with a tiny piece of worm or grub. This should help improve the action. I find it works better than the regular old worm on a hook. Still you may find that this might not be enough action to keep their little minds occupied. In cases like this it’s good to bring along something that they are already interested in, like a game, book or if they’re older it’ll probably be a cell phone or I pod. What’s this world coming to? My three year old daughter didn’t hang in there long. Fortunately she got a kick out of having worm races in the bottom of the boat. Now that she is four she has a little more stamina. You may want to consider a kid friendly pole, such as the many Disney character ones that you can find on any Wal-Mart shelves.


Once you have the farm pond thing down, it may be time to take the whole family out in the boat. Before I go any further, PLEASE remember to put a life jacket on your kids, even at the farm pond. Once you have everyone in the boat a good spot would be near some fish cribs. This not only gives you and your family constant action, but bigger fish like to visit these areas for a quick meal from time to time. This leaves Dad or Mom with an opportunity to hook into a nice musky or northern. When you have everyone settled in on the pan fish, start fan casting a buck tail. At one time or another you’re going to hook into one, and when you do you are going to light up the eyes of your boating companions. Guess what they all want to catch some day. I still remember times when we all went out as a family when I was little. The first time I seen a northern that my Dad caught, man that was it. Hey dad can I fish with one of those? Yep you got it I was fishin for the big ones now. Then I hooked my Mother in the big toe with a Bass oreno. Poor Mom I tried to cast three times each time raising her leg up before she could scream, (Erich make him stop!). So add a little caution and watch what is going on when you hand a kid his first treble hook clad lure. By the way if this doesn’t make your kids want to fish right away, all else isn’t lost. Don’t push them into it. At least you showed them. Maybe some day they will change their mind and revert back to what you taught them. This article wasn’t meant to turn everyone into fishermen. It doesn’t hurt to give people the opportunity.


There are a lot of ways to keep those fires lit in your kids when you are not out on the water. Keep fishing magazines around. This will not only help you teach them how to fish but it instills good reading skills. It also doesn’t hurt to watch fishing shows on the TV. Man when I was a kid I had to wait for Saturday to watch Bill Dance. Now days they got the same shows on Saturdays and they also have The Outdoor Channel, and The Sportsman Channel. There are probably more to mention but you get the drift. This is better than letting them watch reality TV any way. There are also plenty of videos out there to. You could also get involved with a local fishing club. This will give you time together doing something constructive to help the sport. You may also learn a few things along the way together, from other club members. I just so happen to be the president of a local club for the counties of Sauk and Juneau . It is called Muskies Matter. If you are interested you may inquire by calling me at the number at the bottom of the article.


Once you have them fueled and they are pretty good at fishing you can keep them fired up all year long by dangling a big fishing trip in front of them. For instance maybe you would go up north or to Canada . Or if that is too expensive you can go to many good places in the area. It isn’t all that bad of an Idea to hire a guide either. Having a guide is worth its weight in gold, even if you don’t catch anything that day due to conditions. He’s still your best bet and will usually work to no end for you. He will at least show you what has been working. Then you can go out and try again with success.


Also if you have someone that is knew to musky fishing, and they have never caught one then it may be a good idea to hand them the rod when you hook one, or spend extra time helping them to understand how to do things. This is not a time to be greedy. For every new person you turn onto this sport correctly. The more you do for the sport.


I also mentioned earlier that for kids you want a kid’s pole. When fishing with anyone who is new to fishing, you need to give them something that is easy for them to use. To some people, using a bait caster comes easy. If you go with a guide he will probably have you throwing a bait caster like you are a pro in no time. However I keep other poles in my boat when I take clients out just in case.


There are a lot more than just kids to take fishing for the first time. You would be surprised at how many people missed out on fishing while growing up. For what ever reasons that they did, help them out. If you can’t find any one to turn into a new fisherman you are not looking hard enough to protect your sport. Because the next person you teach may be the next musky fisherman that is just as compassionate as you are. This person may be a troubled inner city kid, your wife, a friend and his kid or just an acquaintance. In fact I would like to take the time to say if anyone knows of any troubled kids that you think fit the bill, call me 1 608 415 1231. Some people just need something better to do than what they’re doing. I urge any other guides to try and do the same from time to time.


Take a look at local clubs that you know of, or Muskies Inc. What if half of these people never fished in their lives? Muskies Inc. is over 7000 people strong. They have done a lot to help our lakes and rivers and our young people who are interested in fishing. The people that we need to thank for all of this, are the ones that took all of these members fishing for the first time. They are the ones that instilled musky fishing in their hearts. With out these people in these clubs, try to imagine what musky fishing would be like to day. Last I heard, the legendary fish of ten thousand casts has been brought down to roughly three thousand casts. This is for the average person of course. If you are an avid musky fisherman, or guide then this number is brought down considerably more. The number 10000 has literally deteriorated; do to great numbers of people practicing catch and release, heavy stocking efforts and continual education about these fish and our lakes. Each and every person that we can get involved will make it that much greater.


If through the years you take on teaching different people to fish muskies, you have a great duty put upon you to teach them how to properly catch and release. Then also teach the importance of it. Do this even if you think they will never fish muskies again. I usually tell it like this to grown ups. It costs $12.00 for each musky stocked. Out of a thousand fish you may have any where from 6 to 50 percent survive. So splitting the difference each fish costs about $43.00 at age two. Then about 75 percent get thrown back as adults, according to studies done in Ohio . This makes each fish cost $57.00 each and as they keep getting taken out of the lakes the totals keep growing. So to keep a 500 acre lake stocked at one fish per acre, it’s like spending $28000.00 for 500 fish. When taking little kids fishing set a size limit on your crappies, and when they ask why you are throwing those ones back explain that they need to grow up. And this is usually good enough to get them conditioned over the years. The money scenario really works on the grown ups, as I imagine they all have to pay bills. They know the importance of money.


In closing I would like to say that there are many things to teach to make great musky fishermen, to instill a great musky future. Some of these things are boater safety, proper etiquette, and protecting our lakes and rivers from evasive weeds, or pollution. These things go hand in hand with making future musky fishermen. Good luck with yours, and remember to enjoy the moments with a picture.


Mark Saemisch

Musky guide and President of Muskies Matter of Sauk and Juneau .

cell# 1 608 415 1231     



Throwing a change up


I’ve had plenty of days where everything fell in to place as if the

planets were aligned perfectly and the Musky Gods were smiling down upon my boat. Or

maybe it was the fact that I was doing everything right because that is what I knew

worked best where I was at, for that time. I might add that some of these times seem

stupendous in comparison to others; like when my client and I caught three fish in fifteen

minutes; while having numerous follows all day long. It’s times like this that make a musky fisherman keep on the water, casting like a machine, hoping to enjoy thrills like this one. The truth be known that our success had nothing to do with the planets, other than maybe moon phase. We had hard follows all day. We were back on our spot on the spot sort of speak, when we threw the two gaudiest looking buck tails I could find in my boxes. I figured it’s the end of the day, maybe they need to see something different. I handed Chris a pink Mepps and I used a purple with bright yellow and orange blades. As soon as the lures hit the water we saw action. The light was changing as we were seeing, not only follows but fish swiping mad at these two lures dressed in drag. All of a sudden Chris had one hit right at boat side. Right away it leaped through the air and shook the lure out. Then on the next cast or so he had another one on. This time we got it in the boat. It measured 38 inches. We knew the action was hot, so the picture and release went really fast. We started swatting the water again right away he gets another one, this time a 39 incher. As soon as it was in the water He had another follow, which hit on my figure eight. Believe it or not, a 40 incher! It was like musky fishing on Sesame St. , thirty eight, thirty nine, and forty. I couldn’t believe it. Boy did we laugh at that. I will never forget it, but the thing that stuck out in my mind was that even though I’ve had plenty of luck at the end of the day before, this time was different. These fish were extremely excited as they followed and swiped. I believe it was the pink and purple lures. I believe that we would not of gotten as many fish had we been throwing black buck tails. The something different put them over the edge.  


More often than not, for most fishermen (myself included) you may be at the right place

at the right time according to past experiences or by what you’ve read in magazines but

you have yet to see any fish. This is when you need to change what you are doing. This is

what I call throwing a change up. The toughest thing about throwing a change up is

realizing when you need to do it. This is also harder if you are the only one in the boat,

because you can only change one thing at a time while trying to realize a pattern. If you

have three people in the boat then you can all throw a different change into the works,

thus speeding up the process of eliminating what not to do. Never have two people doing the same exact thing until a pattern emerges. Then deciding what to change is the next step. Do I change speed of presentation, or the whole presentation? Maybe I’m in the wrong spot. Sometimes the window of opportunity is an hour or two off. If you are not alone, stay open to suggestions you never know who may have the right idea. One indication of not being there at the right time might be some lazy follows, but no commitments. If you think this may be the case, then this doesn’t mean you camp on the same idea while waiting for time to pass by. You can try subtle change ups like casting at a fish from a different direction or changing the speed of your lure, or the depth. I would try some of these first then try a

different lure, all the time paying attention to how a fish reacts on a follow. Was the fish

lazy or hard after it? Then leave that fish alone and come back in an hour or at dusk or

dawn. Then throw the change up that got you your best follow. You might have to throw something totally off the wall like a pink buck tail. Some days you just have to work a little harder for a fish in the boat. Just go about it with an organized approach.


Too many times people get into the robot casting mode and end up casting all day with

little or no results. Meanwhile getting frustrated and loosing touch with everything they

ever read or learned about musky fishing. Don’t let this happen to you. You need to get a

good thought process going in your head before you even hit the boat landing. So think

about it on the way there. Your thought process is what you want to be able to do

naturally without hesitation, not casting aimlessly like a robot. Stamina is good, because

you need to be able to cast like a machine. Just don’t have the same mind set as a

machine while you’re doing it.


Here’s a tip for throwing a change up, especially if you are on new water. Keep a pair of

binoculars in the boat. Pay attention to what you do on every cast. What I mean by this is you have to look for follows every time you bring it in. If you do get action you should have paid attention to what you were doing that got the action. Was I reeling fast or slow? If I was trolling and had action on a turn was it on the out side or inside of the turn? This would indicate if the fish wanted it fast or slow. I don’t do much trolling my self, but I threw that in to make some of you to think out side the box. To be successful in musky fishing you need to pay attention to what you are doing and what is going on all the time. Make every cast count with a good figure eight. Look for follows on every cast. Also look to other boats in the area if you see someone spending extra time on a figure eight, this is where your binoculars come in handy. Maybe the other boat half patterned something for you already, and they don’t even know it. But you’ll know it if you paid attention. Look at everything that they are doing. Seems pretty ruthless I know, but I’m out there to catch, fish not turn my reel!


I’ll go over a few other change ups with you to get you started. If you have wind or

current in your favor, try drifting over a spot from a distance, with the fish finder off.

Trolling motors and transducers make noise. Sometimes fish are a bit finicky. I find this a

lot during mid days when all the jet skis are out in the summer. It helps unless the jet skis

are getting too close. If the fish are acting skittish they will be driven deeper. Also it’s dangerous for you and the jet skis to be that close. Here’s another good reason to have the binoculars, so you can report things of this nature to the local authorities. If you get the registration numbers off the side, this should solve the problem for you in the future, at least.


Another change up is from shallow to deep. Now this doesn’t always mean real deep.

Sometimes the fish just move out to the weed edge or the drop off. I find this to be the case just after mornings, because I fish a lot of stained water. I usually start off shallow in the morning due to higher D.O. in the shallow when the sun comes up. This is the only place where


plant life grows good on stained water, because they need sunlight. At night there is no

sunlight, but right away in the morning there is. At this time you will have

photosynthesis, which makes D.O. in the water. All fish need this. As the day wears on

there is more heat in the shallows and there is more boating pressure. This may cause bait

fish and muskies to go deeper in weed cover or near the drop off. This is where you may need to change up and go out a little deeper, or work your lure deeper into the weeds. I find that using a safety pin style spinner works good for this. The trick is to let it go down into the weeds then point your rod straight at your lure and reel. If you move your rod tip to one side or the other, the bait will twist and catch weeds. If done right your lure will burst through the weeds, and keep going. Sometimes this will provoke strikes.  


Many times when you’re fishing wind blown pieces of structure, and not having any luck,

try casting to the back side of them. If that isn’t working try playing the role of the bait

fish and cast into the wind and bring your lure into the slack water behind the structure,

from the ruff stuff. This will look more natural. I say this because I have found that big fish take advantage of these conditions by staging on the back sides of structure, in the slack water. Then they let the weather bring tired bait fish to them. It has worked for me often. Also on lakes where there is a real defined weed edge all around the lake, and casting to the wind blown side isn’t working, try going to the opposite side of the lake. Cast into the wind and bring it out of the weed edge, as this is your wind blown structure. Look injured. This also works well at times.


Another thing you want to look at is subtle changes with lures. Black buck tails work

great on just about all water, but sometimes changing the size, shape or color of the blade

does wonders. Other times a complete style of lure change is needed to fit the situation. Three fish in 15 Min. doesn’t lie. Maybe you’ll be the one to get 41, 42, and 43.


To sum things up in this article think about this stuff before you go out. This will get you

in the mind set. Have a good plan, not just to start but have a plan of change ups that you

will try. If what you are doing is not working, then you need to execute your changes.

Always be aware of what is going on around you, on every cast, retrieve, follow and

watch what other people are doing. Your follows need extra attention and so do your

figure eights. All you have to do then is role with the punches, as to what you will need to

change. When it all falls into place, remember to just take a picture.


Mark Saemisch

Muskie Marks Guide Service

1 608 415 1231    




Musky C.P.R.


Tis the season to be in a hurry! I’m not talking about driving to the boat landing fast or flying across the lake at top speed. I’m going to talk about what I consider to be the most important topic on musky fishing during this time of year. C.P.R. Catch, Photograph and Release. Now for most of you who musky fish you know the importance of catch and release. How ever we will go over a few things to help everyone, even the avid musky hunter.

It costs $12.00 for each musky stocked. Out of a thousand fish you may have any where from 6 to 50 percent survive. So splitting the difference each fish costs about $43.00 at age two. Then about 75 percent get thrown back as adults, according to studies done in Ohio . This makes each fish cost $57.00 each and as they keep getting taken out of the lakes the totals keep growing. So to keep a 500 acre lake stocked at one fish per acre, it’s like spending $28000.00 for 500 fish. A ratio of about one fish per acre is considered about right for healthy fish. At this ratio is where muskies got the nickname, the fish of ten thousand casts. Also I would like to mention that it takes around 8 to 10 years to grow a 40 incher. This is equivalent to a 20” bass for our area. A 20 inch Bass is nice to catch but 24 to 26 is a trophy for the area as a 50 + musky is a trophy for a lot of people. Being a musky guide I throw back 50 inchers. The world record is over 60 inches. For every person the magic number may be different. Now days if you want a mount on the wall you can have a replica made from length and girth measurements along with a picture. It makes sense to throw back after looking at the length of time and amount of money it takes to get a trophy.

After looking at why it’s important to do C.P.R., I would like to discuss reasons why this time of year can be so hard on the muskies when we catch them. It is said that a lot of pressure on the water, puts stress on the fish. Stress effects feeding pattern and fish need to feed to be healthy. Pressure can come in many forms, Fishermen, jet skies, tour boats, water skiers, other fish and the biggest culprit is heat. During July and August the water temps get into the 80s. A lot of people will not fish during these times, because they do not want to hurt these fish. To see a fish follow your lure and not hit makes you think.

(Why did that fish waste all of its energy to follow my lure and not hit?) The answer is easy. If you are reeling as fast as you can or even trolling, it is easy for this fish to keep up with your lure in the water. The fish is just waiting for the right time to strike. When a musky wants to it can have a burst speed of thirty miles an hour or better with one flick of its tail. This is the beginning of where a musky starts to use up its energy in extremely large amounts. At this point it already would have been over if it were eating a bait fish. This is why it puts everything into the strike to stun or kill when it hits. But if your lure is what it hit then the fight has just begun and now the musky has to expend more energy. To improperly release a musky is equivalent to having a high school wrestler go a few periods with a guy from the old folk’s home, and then you don’t feed the old guy or help him while he gets his wind back, if he can. Now throw extreme heat into the mix and you could have disaster.

How to properly handle these fish from beginning to end is what I’m going to explain in detail. First of all you need to use the right equipment. In this heat you want to net the fish while it is still green, so you don’t tire the fish out too much. In order to do this you need to get the fish to the boat fast and with out as much fight. You will need to have a stout rod of about six to seven feet long, which is made for musky fishing. On this rod you need a reel with line to match. I like the Abu Garcia C6500. This reel should have one coat of electrical tape on it for a base. This will keep the no stretch line that you will need from slipping on the reel. For the line I like to use 80 lb. Power Pro. I then tie on a good wire leader made of 175 pound leader material. I use a Polymer knot and retie often when using a jerk bait. The constant jerking of the line will break it at the knot if you are coming in contact with a lot of weeds throughout the day. This combo will allow you to bring the fish to the boat quickly by being able to be the one in control. You need to power the fish in during hot conditions, in order to net the fish green. Once you get the fish to the boat you should have a partner to net the fish. This also helps keep the time of the fight to a minimum. Do not pull the fish up by the boat. As it will probably try to jump and thrash in the air. You should pull the fish down into the water and make a big circle. The net man should insert the net into the water when you are heading towards him with the fish. As he nets the fish he should get the net around the fish then drop the handle down into the boat while leaving the net in the water over the side of the boat. This is important to keep the fish in the water. You want to use a big net that is made for musky fishing. The One I use and recommend is the Frabile Power Catch. This net is big enough to net me and I’m 6’ 4” and run about 240lbs. The other thing that this net offers is that it has a safe coating for the fish. This coating does two things. It keeps the net from tangling in the gills or the lure. It also will not cut the fish if it is heavy. You also won’t see a fish eat through this net. Go ahead and laugh, but I’ve seen this happen on other nets. Sometimes when these fish hit regular netting material with an open mouth and a little force, they will go right through it. At this point your line is going through the net and out the other side with a lively fish on the other end. You do not want this to happen. It does make for a pretty good story. Now that you have the fish in the net you need the proper procedure and tools for unhooking the fish. Keep the fish in the net while in the water. You will need a good pair of heavy duty needle nose pliers and heavy duty side cutters. Another good tool is a jaw spreader. Grab the lower jaw by the gill plate underneath with bent fingers only. Do this firmly. Lift just the head out of the water a little and stick the jaw spreaders in the fish’s mouth. Then unhook the lure with the needle nose pliers. If the hook is going to come out hard, then you will clip the barb off with the side cutters to remove the hook quickly. Set the fish back in the water and measure if you need to. I only measure for clients when they ask or if it’s really big. If you need a picture make sure the camera is ready to go. The other person should understand how to work the camera. Carefully grab the lower jaw again with one hand and hold the other hand about mid way back on the fish. Raise the fish out horizontally and get the picture. Then set the fish in the water gently and let it go. Make sure that it swims off ok. If it doesn’t take off right away and you leave, it may get hit by a boat prop. During heavy wave action you don’t want to hold the fish in the water long. Let the fish acclimate to the waves on its own as much as you can. Holding it in the waves can tire the fish out.

Well I hope that this helps you out during the hot times on the water. Please enjoy the sport of musky fishing, but protect it also. Practice C.P.R.

If you have any questions you can call me at 1 608 415 1231.

Mark Saemisch

Muskie Mark’s Guide service

President of Muskies Matter of Sauk and Juneau counties





Spring Fling Pike and Muskie Fishing in Juneau County .



That’s right you read the title correct. The word muskie was in there. Many people don’t think of this area when they think of muskie fishing. There just so happens to be two of the greatest places that I know of to fish these ferocious fresh water pigs. Petenwell and Castle Rock flowages offer some of the best action while muskie fishing due to the heart stopping action that you get from the many northern pike along the way. There are not too many places that you will receive the wicked strikes that you receive on the Wisconsin River . Part of this is due to the dark shallow water. These fish will put themselves into ambush position. And when something comes by or over them, they attack viciously. Pike and muskie go hand in hand on the river system. So if you’re looking to go muskie fishing here is the good news.  1. Both of these lakes are closer than say, Hayward or Eagle River .  2. Both of these lakes are family oriented, with Co. parks, restaurants, plenty of pan fish and catfish. And not to mention the dells is also close by. If you take away a day from fishing there’s even a good bike trail that goes through Elroy.  3. The scenery is absolutely breath taking up and down the river. There are rock formations that only God himself could have carved out, and still quiet backwaters that seem to go forever.  4. Did I mention that these fish get really big? Yes they get to be some of the biggest I’ve seen anywhere, due to extensive catch and release and a 45 inch size limit. These fish have some of the best forage base to eat from of any place. The Wisconsin River is a fish factory for everything that swims in it. Pike and Muskie eat them all, and it shows.



This spring is the time to take advantage on these waters. The fish become very active in the spring, because they all go into the back waters, below the dams and around shallow structures to spawn in great numbers through out the spring. The pike and muskies follow after they are done spawning. This all takes place in pretty much the same areas. There is bait fish that are literally jam packed it seems like in these areas. If you are in the area and like to fish you need to try this out. If you’ve never fished for pike or muskie then you will want to get a muskie rod spooled with at least 30 pound test. I use 80 pound Power Pro with a leader, for good reason. Try throwing 4 to 6 inch bucktails or other lures in that size range. This is considered small lure size for these fish and that is what you want to use in the spring of the year.



If you are already an avid muskie fisherman please practice catch and release. If you are not and are learning there are some basic things that you need to learn about the muskie fisheries to protect them. I run a guide service in the area and I practice catch and release only. This is because I understand that the number of people fishing today, far out weighs the population of yesterday. The fact that it is hard for muskies to keep up there population makes it hard to keep a fishery going. If people keep all the legal fish they catch I assure you there will be no muskies tomorrow. This is why I only need a picture. With a good picture and a length and girth measurement, you can get a really natural looking reproduction mount made of your fish. This way maybe you or another person, like a kid can enjoy catching the fish again.

Proper handling of these fish is very important. They are very delicate. If you are not a muskie fisherman already, look into the proper handling of these fish. Or hire a local guide like my self to show you. Being shown this is important also for your safety. Muskies and northern have very sharp teeth and can be hard to handle while trying to get treble hooks out of their mouth.


I urge you to try and enjoy this event this spring. When trying this please be safe and thoughtful. If you have questions please call.



Sincerely Mark Saemisch.

Muskie Mark’s Guide Service

1 608 415 1231