You can cast for, and catch, shallow muskies until the lakes and rivers freeze. Before the fall turnover, Jeremy Smith boats big muskies by casting Blue Fox Super Bou Spinnerbaits and Vibrax spinners. Afterwards, he adds Rapala® Super Shad Raps and Storm Flat Sticks to his arsenal.
“This is a good time of year to get ‘em shallow,” says Smith, a “Lindner’s Angling Edge” TV host. “They can be shallow longer than you think. There’ll be muskies up in six, eight feet of water right until the bitter end, when its’ really cold. There are always fish shallow.”
Smith will target shallow bulrushes, sand, rocks, and green weeds until the fall turnover begins. He trolls deep water during the turnover, but will return to casting in shallower water once the turnover is complete.
“Right at turnover, fish in general just tend to go really deep for a period of time,” he says. “But once things stabilize, you can end up getting into another good bite shallow again.”
The term “turnover” describes the process by which shallow and deep lake water reach the same temperature and begin combining, the top layer first sinking to the bottom and then all layers mixing. “This continues until the water temperature at all depths reaches approximately 39º F,” explains the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Learn more about lake turnover here, on MnDNR’s website.
In northern Minnesota, where Smith lives, the shallow muskie bite is “starting to get good” now, he says. “There’s always a good window that happens before turnover, when the water’s in the high 50s to mid-60s. That’s a really good window.”
After the fall turnover, “as it gets later in the year,” Smith will resume casting for muskies. “Even when the water’s freezing cold you can still catch fish casting,” he says. “The only issue you can run into is your equipment freezing. That’s the trickiest part. But if you can cast, it’s definitely worth continuing to cast.”
After the fall turnover, Smith will target his casts a bit deeper, from eight feet all the way out to 20 feet. “It does seem like a lot of the bigger fish seem to be off that first drop,” he says. “In that 12- to 20-foot range is where you end up seeing a lot of the fish.”
Smith’s fall muskie program starts with Super Bou Spinnerbaits and Vibrax spinners. After the fall turnover, he’ll start casting Rapala Super Shap Raps and Storm Flat Sticks as well, before transitioning to trolling.
Sufix® Performance Braid in the 65-pound-test strength is Smith’s “go-to line” for casting for muskies. It handles effortlessly, casts a mile and resists wind knots — all while remaining abrasion resistant and super-sensitive.
“And it has the most incredible shock strength of any line that I’ve seen,” Smith says. “Why that’s important in muskie fishing is you tend to backlash from here and there. So if you have a catastrophic backlash, you’re not sending baits into outer space!” If he’s casting “really big lures,” he says, he will “bump it up” to 80- or 100-pound-test.
Blue Fox® Vibrax® Super Bou (Tandem Blades)
A Tandem Blade Vibrax Super Bou is one of Smith’s “go to” fall casting baits for muskie. “I find myself throwing big blades now into November,” he says. “A lot of people will put those away as the water cools off, but they can still be effective — just slow ‘em down.”
In the Super Bou’s Vibrax chamber — a feature unique to Blue Fox baits — a free-turning brass gear emits a sonic vibration and a rattle when it rubs against a bullet-shaped bell. The Super Bou’s unique double-blade set-up causes additional fish-attracting ruckus.
Along with the Vibrax bell, the Super Bou’s unique combination of marabou, hackle feathers and flashabou fibers gives it an edge over other bucktail baits.Tandem Blade Vibrax Super Bou spinners with size 10 blades measure 10 inches long and weigh 3 oz.
Blue Fox® Super Bou Spinnerbait
A spinnerbait is a lure many muskie anglers “forget about,” Smith says. But in his experience, the Super Bou Spinnerbait “really shines” when targeting muskies in the fall, when water temps are in the mid-fifties to mid-sixties.
Super Bou Spinnerbaits pair twin, size-8 Colorado blades with Marabou, hackle and Flashabou fibers in a lure that attracts vicious strikes with thumping action, high vibration and flash. They measure 8 ¼ inches and weigh 2 oz. They come in seven color patterns – Black, Black Orange, Brown Orange, Firetiger, Pink Purple, White Red and Yellow Brown.