Trying to understand and predicting the tiger muskies feeding habits and behavior has been a mystery to many fisherman for years. On one trip in July 2005 to lower Big Creek Lake in Colorado proved that feeding windows do occur and if you are lucky enough to be on the water, you are in for one great day.
The weather that week was consistently hot and we had not seen any major change in weather for some time. The barometric pressure did drop to a low level over the weekend and we were cautiously optimistic that we might see some muskies. We had been to Big Creek several times before but had not had any luck or for that matter gotten much interest from any of our passing lures. However, on our last trip we did find some new structure that we were excited about nailing this time out.
If you have not been to Big Creek, you may not understand the pure enjoyment of just being on the water there. Big Creek Lake is a popular destination for campers during the summer but usually during the week we have enjoyed the solitude of being one of the only boats on the water. The lake sits at about 9,000 feet above sea level and is nestled between mountains that provide great views on every cast. It has been somewhat of a marvel how the tiger muskies have flourished in this water. The winters are harsh and the lake or roads don’t even open until mid to late June.
There are several pieces of structure to fish at Big Creek but we have found the most productive areas to be the weed beds in the southern half of the lake. The weed beds sit in about 12-15 feet of water and top out at about 2 feet in some areas. These weed beds attract a lot of bait fish and trout. Throughout the day you can see hundreds of trout rising in these weeds beds. The interesting part about these weed beds is that they are separated almost evenly from each other and form a triangle if you marked them on a map.
On this day in July, we started casting the weeds beds as soon as we got on the water and right away we were seeing fish. As I mentioned, we had fished this lake several times before for muskies so to say the least we were ecstatic that we were seeing fish. As the day progressed, we were starting to be amazed at how many fish we were seeing and getting them to follow just about everything including the kitchen sink. But no takers! The one thing about tigers we have found compared to pure muskies is their inability to follow lures into a figure eight. We still have not been able to get these fish to take a lure on the figure eight or even make a concerted effort at following the lure near the boat. There may be something to say about the water clarity at Big Creek because it is “gin clear”. Maybe this coupled with their inherent pike behavior lends them to be a bit more “spookier” than pure muskies.
One of the most interesting follows of the day occurred while I was retrieving a Squirrley Burt off one of the weed beds. As the lure approached, I saw a nice 38 to 40 inch tiger coming in after the lure from the left. As I continued my retrieve, I was astonished to see another tiger even bigger coming in from the right! Now getting one follow is awesome but two tigers on the same retrieve is something I have never seen. Needless to say as they got closer, they kind of spooked each other.
Well as the sun was rising and the temperature was getting hotter, we still had not been able to boat any tigers. Then on a our next pass over the center weed bed, Matt threw out a black Suick and landed the first tiger of the day, a nice 38 incher off the north edge of the weed bed. We continued to work the weed beds and in particular the largest which we had labeled “Tiger Woods”. Matt this time used his trusty black and silver Buchertail 700 along the edge. Dropping the lure almost to the bottom and then bulging it toward the surface produced a nice, fat and healthy 40 inch tiger. We then moved to the inside edge of the weed beds casting spoons more towards the sandy shoreline which produced two more tigers, a 28 and 32 incher.
As musky fisherman, we know the perils, humility and likelihood of being skunked on any given day. By the end of this July day, we had landed four nice tiger muskies and by our estimate had about 30 follows (it became pointless to try and count anymore). Colorado tiger musky fishing can be a challenge in not only getting them into your boat but also finding a productive lake to fish for them. However, if you do find yourself on the water during a musky feeding window, you have better of brought your lunch on the boat because you won’t want to go back to shore.