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Ready for Tennessee Musky Fishing

Ready to Rock: A Musky Opener Check List


For northern musky anglers the long wait is nearly over with the musky season opener just around the corner. While cold winter angst gives way to anticipation there are still a few things to get in order before making that first cast of the season. Harsh conditions and long dormant periods can have negative effects on your musky gear as well as your boat. In the spirt of avoiding season opener heart aches let’s take a look at a few things you can do before you hit the musky opener to make sure your first day on the water isn’t short lived or frustrating.


1.       Musky Reels

While it is best practice to back the drag off of your musky reels for storage your drag and drag plates still may require lubrication. A check should be made to ensure that your drag is pulling smoothly with no hiccups. An easy test is to put your rod in a rod holder and pull line from the rod tip. If your line pulls smoothly under pressure applied past the rod tip you should be in business. If your reels drag pulls in a sputtering or “herky jerky” fashion your drag plates most likely require lubrication.  If you find yourself in this situation, seek the help of a reel repair specialist or follow an online tutorial on how to properly lubricate the drag plates in your musky reel.


2.       Braided Line

Braided line doesn’t necessarily have “memory” like monofilament however months of non-use can have negative effects on your braided musky line. Before you entrust your line to casting an expensive musky lure or fighting a post spawn giant spend some time inspecting your braided line even if it was new before storage. If possible, inspecting your reels line foot by foot is the best practice. If you see no signs of damage or decay you should be good to go. A trick that I use for new line and line that have sat dormant for a duration of time is to wet it in a kitchen sick or bathtub. This helps line from bunching or binding as well as laying perfectly while being spooled up.


3.       Musky Rods

A visual inspection of your musky rods eyelets should be made to ensure there is no damage. Sharp edges inside of a musky rods eyelets can and will damage your braided line leading to failure. Secondly a quick “feel” test can be done for non-visible sharp edges inside of a rod eyelet.  


4.       Musky Lures

 First and foremost, check all of your musky hooks for rust, damage and weakness and change accordingly. Split rings should be checked for rust and deformation. Plastic lures should be inspected for split seams that can be caused by water intrusion and freezing conditions. Plastic musky lures typically have a vertical seam as left and right halves are joined together. If you suspect a lure of having a split seam placing it overnight in a bucket of water or sink can help solve the case. Lures that have seam damage are likely to fail when a muskie strikes as very few modern musky lures are wire through this can be deadly for muskies.

Wooden lures should be inspected for epoxy cracks and weakness near there hook hangers. Water intrusion can and will weaken wooden lures. 


5.       Outboards

While winterizing your outboard is a must in the northern zone it is not a guarantee that things will run smoothly come spring. A smart play is to plan a day to launch and test your outboard far before musky opener. If this is off the docket at a minimum testing your outboard on a set of lower unit ears should be done to avoid catastrophe. I have personally witnessed multiple ramps blocked by boats that won’t start or some other malady on musky opener. Not only is this an issue for the boat’s owner but is also an issue for other anglers eager to use the ramp.


6.       Batteries

While your boats battery tender may say everything is 100% ready to go, I highly recommend an on the water test before your first fishing outing. If your batteries do in fact have power a check of your terminal connections should be made for buildup and also tightened if needed. I find that most power issues are due to loose battery connections. Battery connections should be far tighter than finger tight.


7.       Navigation Lights

While rarely used by most boaters the United States Coast Guard and local authorities require boats to be equipped with navigation lights. Red and Green at the bow and an all-around anchor nav /anchor light in the rear of your vessel. Checking to ensure that your lights are working not only will help to avoid a ticket but will keep you safe during low light periods.


8.       Bilge

From experience I can promise sinking a boat isn’t fun. Check your bilge pump before your first musky trip to ensure that you will stay afloat. Wile your pump might be working just based on the sound of it turning on ensure that there are no cracks or breaks in the pipe leading from your bilge pump to the outflow.


While there are seemingly a million things that can go wrong on the water the above issue seem to comprise some of the more common issues musky anglers run into during the first few trips of the year. While its far more fun to spend time thinking about catching monsters spend some time on your boat and gear to make sure your first trips don’t end in frustration. Also don’t forget to put the plug in your boat.

Stay safe on the water and catch a monster!


 Steven Paul

Tennessee Musky Fishing, Melton Hill Musky Fishing, Melton Hill Musky Guide, Tennessee Musky Fishing, East Tennessee Musky.




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