Two years ago I wrote about Andrew Walker and his Cast & Conquer Fishing Adventures business. Click here to check out that article and watch the video where he pulls a 55.25-inch muskie through the ice — crazy!
In the 20-minute YouTube video below, Walker and a couple of buddies are targeting muskies on the Ottawa River in Quebec, specifically zone 8, which is the only place in Canada where anglers can legally target muskies during winter. Their goal on this adventure is to catch and release a 40 pounder, and as you’ll see, they catch a giant fish that very well could hit that mark.
As I wrote in my previous article about Walker and this unique fishing scenario, it’s not common for anglers to attempt to catch muskies on dead bait. Watch any YouTube muskie video where anglers are targeting muskies during late fall (open water) and one of the keys is having lively and large sucker minnows. In the video below, you’ll note that Walker is hooking very large (12 to 15 inch) dead suckers on quick-strike rigs. Water depth is 8 to 9 feet, and he’s placing the dead baits 3 to 6 feet below the ice.
Some veteran ice anglers asked in the comments section of his YouTube post about why he wasn’t setting the hook immediately upon reaching the tip-up. Their argument: The problem with waiting too long is it could result in a deeply hooked fish, and Walker would have to cut a treble hook to remove it.
“I never cut one treble the whole video on any fish,” he wrote in his reply. “Not one fish had it on the gullet. With 12- to 15-inch baits, you need to give them time, seeing as they hit the baits sideways. A smaller fish may not have a hook in the mouth when first grabbing the bait. Hence, this is why I allow muskies to swim with it. Once they stop to reposition the sucker (from sideways to head-first), and then when they move away again, I set the hook. I land 30-50 muskies a year on quick-strike rigs, and maybe one or two of those fish take the minnow deep enough that I have to cut a hook.”
When I highlighted Walker’s YouTube video 2 years ago, he was rigging his tip-ups with large dead mackerel, not suckers. “The mackerel fishery has had a very low quota the last 2 years here in Canada,” he wrote. “It’s very hard to find mackerel, and normally it’s tough for me to find large suckers. This year was the opposite — no mackerel but I can find big suckers.”