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Ontario's TheFishingNutt Catches Musky
Alex Nutt is an Ottawa, Ontario muskie hunter. Scratch that. Alex is a big fish hunter and judging by his Instagram, a very successful one. So, we tapped his brain a bit about how he is so successful.
GFN: You seem to have a really good habit of catching big trophy fish. What do you consider overall your top keys to catching trophy fish regardless of species?
The most important thing to me is knowledge of the species. As a musky angler, I am aware that big fish are more likely to feed just before a storm rolls in, or on peak lunar days. I always try to plan trips around these times for a shot at bigger musky. It is also very important to learn about the forage of the species you are targeting. Forage species also have seasonal movements and this can influence where your target fish can be found.
GFN: Lets now talk about your muskie fishing. In a recent Instagram photo after catching a big muskie, you wrote that it is important to have the right gear. What do you mean by that?
Having the right gear is extremely important in musky fishing for a variety of reasons. The most important being the health of the fish, to ensure the future of our musky fisheries, they should be released as quick as possible.
To safely release a big musky, you will need a big net to land the fish, making sure it is big enough to keep the fish underwater as you remove the hooks. To safely remove the hooks from a big toothy musky, you will need long needle nose pliers and jaw spreaders to avoid injury to you and the fish. If the musky is hooked in a sensitive area, or even just really stuck in the mouth I cut the hooks below the barb to remove the lure. Hooks are a lot less expensive then losing a breeding musky to poor handling.
Other considerations are heavy duty musky rods and reels to ensure the fight is short as possible, targeting musky on bass gear will tire them out and increase their chances of dying post release.
GFN: In another post, you wrote about minimizing air time as part of good catch and release. What time frame, do you try to have your muskie back in the water by? And how do you this with also getting a good photo?
The best thing to do is keep the musky in the net until the camera is ready, and if you plan on measuring the fish have the bump board set up before you take the fish out of water. A fish out of water any longer than 10-20 seconds could potentially die later on after the release due to a lack of oxygen, especially in warm water or areas with low oxygen to begin with. This is why its important to have a large musky net if you plan on targeting them.
GFN: Avid musky anglers really concentrate on proper release techniques. Why do you think this is such an emphasis for muskies?
Every species is different and muskies despite being big aggressive fish are actually very sensitive to poor handling. As an apex predator there will always be less musky in any given body of water compared to a specie like bass, and extra precautions are required to ensure they release well. Bass are also much better at reproducing as they guard their eggs unlike musky, so if you remove some big breeding fish from the body of water it really hurts the fishery long term.
GFN: I know you just published about fishing the Rideau River for muskie in Anglers Atlas. Not to repeat the article, but what are the three things that you love the most about muskie fishing the Rideau River?
I'm lucky enough that the city I live in Ottawa, Ontario is surrounded by some of North America's best musky fishing. The Rideau is a very diverse river with a healthy musky population and sizes of catches have been increasing in recent years. I like fishing the Rideau in the summer because it’s a good opportunity to work on musky skills, such as boatside figure 8 techniques, safe release etc.. because there are so many musky you are bound to run into some of them.
GFN: What other Ontario waters do you consider your favorite musky waters?
I really enjoy fishing big weedy rivers or lakes, as the muskies seem to appear out of nowhere and it really gets the heart racing! I’d have to say beyond the Rideau River the Ottawa River would be my next favourite as the densities of fish are lower but the fish reach enormous sizes, you have to go a bit lower down the Ottawa to find the huge weed flats, but it is definitely worth it if you can put the time in!
GFN: What are your top 5 muskie lures and what do you like about these lures?
The essential lure for musky for the last 10 years has been the double 10 blade bait. I get mine from a local company here in Ottawa, PDeez Musky Inline, they have great affordable and durable baits that come in just about any pattern you can think of.
I also have recently started using a lure called the Baby Beaver which imitates a small muskrat or beaver, and I have had good results on that.
I’d also recommend having a topwater as they are great option in the summer months, I use Big Mama Dirdy Bps as they have a big profile in the water and two propellers that make alot of noise.
Rubber baits such as Bulldawgs or Medussas are effective in the colder months, and many people I know do well trolling big crankbaits when the temperature drops.
GFN: You are a Fray and Release Crew Member. What can you tell us about this company that you represent?
Fray and Release is an outdoor lifestyle company that promotes catch and release fishing. As a proud supporter of catch and release efforts for musky, it’s a pleasure to represent a company with those values.
GFN: So Alex, when are you taking me Musky fishing on the Rideau? My passport is ready and the car has gas. I figured I would at least ask. Seriously, it is so fantastic to interview someone who is such an accomplished fisherman with such a dedication to proper catch and release techniques for such a precious resource. Alex is on Instagram, and I will be following.