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Guide Lines with Capt. Brian Clark: Northwest PA

Mason Arbogast landing his first ever casting musky working a twitch bait in a weedy bay.

Spring has sprung early this year in Northwest, Pa and musky fishing is off to a very early start.  With unseasonably warm weather trends and low amounts of precipitation, our waters are warmer, lower, and clearer than I can ever remember.  Compared to similar dates in 2020, our lakes are 8-10 degrees warmer, visibility is far clearer, and our reservoirs and rivers are down 2-3 foot.  What does this mean for musky fishing?  Weeds are taller, thicker and greener than usual, and old “hot-spots” are inaccessible or are choked out with weed growth. Also, the spawn should be pushed forward a few weeks.  With all that being said, the fish are biting so I cannot complain too much.

In our man-made reservoirs, smaller males are invading the shallow flats in large quantities prepping for the spawn, while the larger females are still staging out deeper in the creek channels and near their wintering grounds.  In our larger creeks and rivers, fish are on the move and are in a spring time transitioning phase.  Fish are currently making their way up smaller tributaries and moving toward weedy flats scoping out suitable spawning habitat.  Again, with extremely low water, look for muskies at the top of deeper holes looking for that next rain fall to continue their migration. 

As far as tactics go, I’ve been blessed to get fish to eat using multiple techniques.  The short-line trolling near weedy flats has very good my last few trips out but is only producing shorter males (per usual).  Casting weed edges and weed clumps has also proven very productive.  Baits such as gliders, shallow invaders and twitching shallow cranks have been productive at producing slightly larger fish.  And lastly, structure trolling steep break lines like I do in the late fall has also proven successful.  Including a massive 49”x25” giant. 

Whatever your preferred tactic is to catching muskies seems to be working right now.  Don’t be too stubborn on lure selection, my “hot” lures are varying day-day and hour-hour.  Give them a wide selection of baits, actions and colors, and don’t be afraid to switch out whatever was hot the day before…. Tight Lines!

Brian Clark

Captain Chaos Musky Guide Service

Gregg Thomas

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