Casting the abyss for muskies

Posted on: April 5, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Blog--Musky abyssSpencer Berman with another giant musky.

He calls it “casting the abyss.”

Spencer Berman is a professional musky fishermen and guide, owner of Spencer’s Angling Adventures in Michigan. He takes clients out on Lake St. Clair and does well.

Very well.

Last year, they caught 61 muskies longer than 50 inches.

Berman credits two lures and one technique that he believes can work anywhere muskies swim.

The lures fall into the category of “big rubber:” the Musky Innovations Bull Dawg and the Chaos Tackle Medusa. They’re both giant rubber baits, up to 20 inches long, with one or more long curly tails.

Fifty-seven of the 61 50-inch muskies Spencer boated last year were caught on those two lures.

He fishes them the same way, and in the same places.

That’s not in the shallows around weeds. There are always muskies there, but as often as not the fish are more focused on raising their body temperature and digesting food than in eating, he said.

Because so many musky fishermen prowl those areas, they also tend to be very pressured and therefore wary, he added.

By comparison, fish in deeper water — anything more than seven or eight feet – are less conditioned, more aggressive and primed to feed. In fact, that’s why they’re in the deeper water, to prey on schools of bait fish that represent a mobile “buffet table,” he said.

Those are the fish he targets, and with his favorite lures.

“That’s when these baits should be the first thing out of your tackle box, the first thing on your mind,” Berman said. “If you’ve got the clearance to work them, lean first toward big rubber.”

And how exactly to work them?

Berman jerks the lures up and down, being careful to move the line by sweeping upward with the rod and allowing the baits to fall on a slack line. The only time he uses the reel is to take up enough slack to do it all again, he said.

That’s critical because it causes the lures to change direction more dramatically. They shoot up and fall back down, over and over, rather than swimming through the water almost horizontally, he said.

“That action is going to make fish eat. It’s going to make followers into biters,” Berman said.

How fast he works the baits depends on water temperature. When it’s above 68 degrees, he fishes fast.

“It’s going to jump, quick, quick, quick,” he said.

When temperatures are below 65, he slows down a bit. In fall, when it dips below 45, he really, really slows down.

“When that water’s cold, those fish are lethargic. You need to fish like you’re 90,” he said.

The good thing is that big rubber baits, unlike crankbaits and bucktails, work just as effectively fished slowly as quickly, he added.

They work throughout the year, too, he added, though there are some especially prime times. That’s post spawn, mid-summer and late fall.

Then, in deep water, giant muskies lurk, waiting to attack big rubber, he said.

“These fish are aggressive, they’re relatively dumb and they’re going to be eating,” Berman said. “It’s the new wave of musky fishing.”

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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