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Musky Shore Fishing vs Boat

Eternal Angler

Eternal Angler

Oct 28, 2019

I think most fishermen will say there's so much more advantage shore fishing for musky versus a boat. I think for the most they're right, however, it's not necessarily that simple as their's many pros and cons to factor in depending on the fisherman themselves. There's actually some advantages of musky shoreline fishing and sometimes shoreline fishing is a lot more exciting, believe it or not.

So lets get into it, I think the obvious benefit of having a boat is covering more ground, access to deeper water where monster musky lure such as the 50 inchers, as well as all the gadgets on board boats such as fish finders, gps, trolling motor. This can can making hunting down these beasts a lot simpler. However, I'll say this, even though you just bought a 200 horsepower boat and the most expensive fish finder in the world. If you still don't know the lake, know the patterns where musky travel during certain time of seasons, know what types of lures to use in different water temperatures and clarity, some of these benefits from a boat can be useless. Hot spots can actually be found quicker and easier by just talking to local musky anglers in your area, whether it be at the boat launch or even on the internet through local fishing forums, facebook groups, or even watching YouTube videos. And if other musky fishermen aren't willing to share, sometimes even just talking with bass anglers who've caught musky on their crankbaits, jigs, and jerkbaits can help you locate them. I'm old school when it comes to fishing, I enjoy listening to the word out on the water, rather than just depending on overpriced gadgets than can immediately put you in debt, rather than just doing some simple research which will cost you nothing.

And so that's the first thing I'll say is this is the benefit of shoreline fishing for musky, it basically costs you nothing, what does a Metro park pass cost, $35 versus a boat which is upwards of $10-$50k? I mean, I went cheap and got a barely used 16' Crestliner Super Hawk for $12k versus a fiberglass boats which costs around $30-$60k, but that's something else to talk about in another thread. So a $35 park pass to to gain access to a large park that allows you to fish a long peninsula on both sides, a canal which also harbors muskellunge, along with a very large marsh in back where I've seen anglers catch both 40 inch musky and pike. And believe it or not, I went over to the 9 mile pier in St. Clair shores which costs nothing and landed two musky within 3 days of using the 7" Suissex Shad Spin Blade, landing two different species of musky, a great lakes spotted musky and a tiger musky. And actually lost two other musky that ripped the blades off of my Shad Spin Blade swimbaits.

And here's the thing, going back to not knowing the lake. If you're new to Lake St. Clair and aren't familiar where the musky hot spots during the summer and fall months. Starting around the shoreline would be a great idea, even if you're fishing from a boat, fishing around peninsulas and piers, and small bays which are tucked away by the peninsulas guarantee musky. Why? Well because baitfish school up there and smaller fish like bass, sheepshead, even catfish are hanging out around these areas and remind you the softer flesh fish is what musky love to feed on. I really think no matter what season or time of day, there's always going to be at least one or two musky in the area of these peninsuals/piers/bays because they're feeding on the smaller fish!

And considering how rough Lake St. Clair can get on windy days, do you have motion sickness? I do and I have a tough time fishing St. Clair when 2-3 foot waves are banging against my boat on an East Wind or North Wind. Even if you don't have motion sickness, it can be tough keeping your boat steady in a musky hot spot even with a quality trolling motor. Sure you can venture over to Canada on north or east wind day when it's calmer, but think about the opportunity you have fishing these rough days from the shoreline.

Here's another benefit of shoreline fishing for musky and I don't think many anglers have even thought of this. You ever notice how many follow-ups you get out on the boat and even when during the figure 8 the musky still won't bite. I'm not sure what the overall hit-to-miss ratio is on a followup from the shoreline versus the boat, but from my experience, I've had a lot more success with great lakes spotted musky striking my lure on a followup at the shoreline versus the boat. I have a theory on this, hear me out. I think musky are more likely to strike because when you're reeling up the bait to the edge of the shoreline, think of the way the waterline and bottom quickly meets together as the musky is chasing down your lure. From the musky's perspective, I suspect he feels as if the walls are closing in on him and he must strike now before his prey gets away. In a way, it probably gives the musky some sort of anxiety and basically puts them in a panic/attack mode to immediately strike. And of course not every shoreline point has the bottom meet the waterline like at Metro Park, but instead piers like Grosse Pointe Shores Park solid metal or cement wall in front of the musky, which may also trigger strikes when you think about it. Out on the boat, they can go right under the boat and swim away.

You know some anglers report catching 50% of their musky on the figure 8 out on the boat. I can't say I've had anywhere that much success with the great lakes spotted musky using this technique. Why? Well, I'm sure it has a little bit to do with me still being an amateur musky fisherman versus the professional musky anglers that have the technique down pat. However, I still get this vibe that anglers like Jon Bondy or Spencer Berman aren't catching musky anywhere near the 50 percentile compared to the other subpsecies from out-of-state lakes and bodies of water even Canada. If you're not aware of this by now, the great lakes spotted musky is a little more docile compared to the other subspecies like the Chataqua Musky also known as the Barred Musky. And sometimes it's just a genetic thing, as well as different habitat and ecosystem that contributes to the different characteristics in subspecies of musky. I just know from my experience, our musky at Lake St. Clair respond different to the figure 8 than what I've seen in the YouTube videos from lakes like Mille Lacs and Lake of the Woods. I had a veteran musky angler recently tell me to try fishing Orchard Lake where they have much more aggressive "northern" musky, I'm thinking northern? Maybe he means the Chautauqua musky from Ohio and Ontario? I'm not quite sure, but if you do enough research you'll notice that certain subspecies having different characteristics and this even goes for the tiger musky, which are a lot more aggressive musky species in general, lol, they're a lot of fun to catch because of this specific factor. So long story short, what I'm getting at is, I think shoreline fishing can actually make the great lakes spotted musky a lot more aggressive.

If you seen my videos and watched me for quite some time, I'd say I have decent amount of experience fishing for musky, about 4-5 years total of officially targeting them. Probably over 100 musky caught from the boat "casting." What I'm about to say is may shock you, out of all the musky I've caught, I've never had one great lakes musky pull and fight like this spotted musky did at the peninsula at metro park. Our local fishing report expert JC Dropshot was kind enough to feature this scene on his YouTube channel.

That spotted musky jumped a total of four times, one final jump was actually stripped out of that video and the fish was very close to doing an official tail walk as some anglers call it, similar to a Tarpon. And really, that's what it felt like, like I was fighting a mini tarpon on my Penn surf rod. Remind you a few days before this, I also had this tiger musky absolutely slam and T-bone my Blue Fox Super Bou in Black Creek, almost ripping my rod right out of my hands. These aren't big musky folks, yet they're fighting so much more aggressively and lasting longer fighting in the shallows versus deeper water out on the boat, why is that? Just a coincidence? Look, when a musky strikes a bait in the shallows, it has only three different ways it can go, left, right, or up? lol. And if you haven't gotten a musky to jump yet, it can be an instant adrenaline rush like no other!!! I know this can still happen from the boat yes, I've seen Robbie's video from Todays Angler, quite exciting. But in the 4-5 years I was targeting musky, I've probably only seen like 4 or 5 musky jump out of the 100+ musky I've caught from the boat, but not one has jumped 4 times. All it took was a few days fishing in the Fall at Metro Park to see a musky jump, as well as another angler catch a 45 inch musky that jumped as well.

I know many musky anglers will say these smaller 30-40 inch musky don't fight with nowhere near as much strength as a 50 inch musky found in deeper water. And I agree, pound for pound, a 50 inch ski is going to pull harder and pull out more drag, but as one professional musky fly angler put it, Robert Hawkins, they don't always give you a longer lasting fight compared to a 40 musky would. "Big muskies like that usually have one big run in them—but she just made seven or so big head shakes and that was it." This is what Robert said after he landed a world record 57 inch musky on a fly rod. Pretty interesting huh? So sometimes when fishermen say which fish fights the best, which factor are they referring to, strength or stamina?

Ever think about why Robert likes fly fishing for them versus a traditional baitcaster? Maybe due to it being a lot more adventurous and exciting? Well, maybe it's somewhat similar to why I think shoreline fishing could be more exciting than the boat, especially if you use waders. I'll say this, when I got into wader fishing for bass and pike at Kent Lake, I was completely blown away on how much more exciting it is versus just traditional fishing at the end of the shoreline. If you've ever fished in waders, you it's just a completely different experience all together. It's almost as if you're closer to mother nature when you're in the water with the fish.

There's just certain ways some musky anglers like to fish, Jon Bondy for instance loves the Detroit River and lives for vertical jig fishing. I've tried it, to me it's just a bit boring compared to casting for these beasts, but I could totally see the beauty in it, once you find the hot spots on the River and start hooking into them, I mean lets face it, the consistency of the size of musky found in the Detroit River tend to be a lot bigger than the lake.

Then there's the fishermen that troll for these beasts. Many musky anglers work full time, are older in age, don't have the stamina nor feel like breaking their back on trying to rip the big Bull Dawgs. And some just love the added comradery, along with extra added alcohol and bragging rights that goes along with trolling out on a charter boat. I mean some guys live for that shit, to drink and brag to the buddy next to who caught the biggest fish of the day, but really are you getting every ounce of fight from that fish? I've done it, can be fun, but for the most part many musky are in a lethargic state and worn out by the time you reel them in. As I've caught my biggest musky out on the boat, it was around 47 inches, but guess what, that 47 incher fought nowhere near is good as the 37 inch musky I caught from the shoreline at Metro Park.

To each of their own, however way you like to musky fish, more power to you, but this is from my own experience musky fishing. And I'm sure many anglers will argue with me on some of what I said, maybe disagree with me on everything, but the truth is a lot of musky anglers haven't even shore fished for musky, so really how would even know the difference? ;)

I still get constant shit still for using spinning tackle for musky fishing and for the most part, I agree, if I could afford a Tranx or a Beast, that's what I would use. But guess what, there is also benefits to using spinning tackle, especially fishing from the shoreline. Think of it this way, there's no tension on the line or spool with a thumb when casting a spinning reel versus a baitcaster right? Simple physics, you're going to cast farther... Well guess what, those added extra feet you get in a cast may make one hell of a difference fishing from the shoreline, why? Because you're covering more ground, you never know if that added extra feet might hit a drop off point or a location where a musky is lurking. Even some musky Ohio guys that came up to fish Metro Park remarked how much further I was casting my bucktail spinners compared to their baitcasters, anyways just something to think about?


So now I'm kind of looking back and thinking if I've covered every aspect that I've found beneficial to musky shoreline fishing. As I'm sure I've missing other benefits I haven't mentioned, there was an angler on the Muskie Outdoors First that remarked "Shore Anglers can get to spots that boats can't get into," totally true, but same thing can be said vice versa of being out on the boat.

I mean don't take my word for it, try experiencing shoreline musky fishing for yourself. I think there's plenty of proof on YouTube showing you can get a new PB or a master angler musky by just fishing the shoreline for these beasts, just like Bucks Fishing. I mean without a doubt pound for pound the shoreline spots on the Canadian side are so much better than Metro Park, the 9 Mile Pier, Blossom Heath, and Brandenburg Park. But believe me, I've talked to many local musky anglers in the area, 50 inch musky have been caught at all these American side spots: Metro, 9 Mile Pier, and even Blossom Heath. I don't know about Brandenburg because I haven't fished that park yet. One local angler even remarked about getting a 50 inch musky last fall at night in October and claimed he saw an even bigger musky the night before on a followup.

And the bottom line is, I just seem to have a lot more consistency and success catching them from the shore versus the boat, even in the summer believe it or not. I suspect if I blow enough gas money to get me over to Canada to fish the hot spots near the Thames River, near the lighthouse in the middle of the lake, along with Sturgeon Hole, I'd have a lot better consistency catching musky on my boat. But some of us aren't pros, don't have sponsors, nor the funding to do so, so that's something you have to factor in. And again, that's why shoreline fishing is a mighty good option to consider. I think once you master the boat and have the money to do so, hands down it will become the most effective way to fish for muskellunge, but it's not always the case if you musky fish on a big lake like St. Clair which requires money to travel.

And I'll say this, it's absolutely hilarious when people walk by me at Metro Park and say smart ass comments. A guy remarked the other day, "you hope you're gonna need a big enough net that size," I was laughed and told him "well actually it's a little small..." Comparing my shoreline Ranger Net to the Frabill Big Kahuna from my boat. It's funny, because I think there's still a lot of people that walk, run, and bike around Metro Park that have no clue what size musky lurks in Lake St. Clair, even from the shoreline.

And I also must say, there's actually a lot more comradery that goes along with shoreline that can be found on a charter or boat. As you'll get to meet some very interesting, cool, funny, and knowledgeable fishermen you've never met before just by fishing at a state park like Metro. And like I said above, I actually met numerous musky anglers from even out of state. And yes, some fishermen will drive a 100 miles just to fish at a park like Metro for the great Muskellunge, don't sound surprised, lol. It just amazes me the amount of local anglers that take this species for granted, not knowing how much fun it is fishing for this species. The one thing all these out-of-staters have in common, is they say they don't have this fish species at any of their local lakes.

Anyways, maybe this will get a good debate going, hopefully some other Michiganders can chime in with their own experience, maybe even some Out-of-Staters, remember anyone is welcome to do so. I'm going to leave a small pros and cons list here to break down some of what I said above.

Musky Shoreline Fishing

  • Cost Effective - Cheaper more Affordable than a Boat
  • Fun Factor - Musky More Likely to Jump, More Aggressive, and Fight Longer
  • Better Strike/Hookup Ratio on Followup in "My Experience" with Great Lakes Spotted Musky at Lake St. Clair
  • Stability - Easier to Fish on Windy Days when it gets rough on Big Water like Lake St. Clair
  • Tends be more consistent with Schooled Up Baitfish along with Smaller Fish around shoreline peninsulas, piers, and bays
  • Meet other Anglers - Gain Knowledge

  • Cover Much Less Ground compared to Boat
  • No Electronics - No Access to Fish Finder, Water Temp
  • Size Consistency - Less Likely to get 50 incher compared to deeper water out on Boat
  • Can't Perform Figure 8
  • Musky More Likely to Jump - More Prone to being Unhooked or Breakoff
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Eternal Angler

Eternal Angler

Oct 28, 2019
And by the way, there's a little dude named Andy Hauswirth that fishes many of the piers in the Grosse Pointe parks tell me what you think of some these musky he's caught over the years fishing the Grosse Pointe Shores Park Pier, Grosse Pointe Farms Park Pier and the Grosse Pointe Little Club. Be sure to subscriber to his Instagram.

Check out this snake-like musky from Harsens Island area... Weird how the genetics are different for the musky over in the marshy area of Lake St. Clair. What has the Great Lakes Musky breading with the Michigan Snakes? 😜 Anyways, I suspect it has to do the habitat/ecosystem and food source over in that area, why they seem to be much longer and thinner bodied over there. I've heard many musky fishermen referring to the snake-like musky on the marshy side of Lake St. Clair.

I ran into this little dude when I was musky fishing around the Grosse Pointe Park Piers for musky from my boat a couple years back, he definitely knows how to put'em away.

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