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Dick Ellis Blog:
10/28/2022
New direction needed at DNR Dick Ellis Candidate for governor Tim Michels indicated in October that if elected he would break up the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to serve 1) business and 2 ) the hunting and fishing, or sporting community. “It’s not my opinion that the DNR is broken,” Michels said. “It’s what I hear everywhere I go.” Better days. John and Jim Ellis with a memorable opening mornin...
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Bondy Time Fishing vertical

By Joel DeBoer

The arrival of late autumn here in Wisconsin signifies many things, including the impending closure of musky season at the end of November. Late season musky angling is not for the faint of heart as the weather can be downright nasty, the windows of fish activity are some of the shortest of the year, and the potential to tangle with a fish of true leviathan proportions increases with every single minute on the water. The environmental conditions of November play a strong role in dictating what offerings will produce success for the ardent angler as cold water temperatures and shortened days decrease activity levels of fish and push most of the muskies, especially the largest specimens, into deeper water.

Casting can be an effective method of scoring November bruisers, as is working suckers on quick-strike rigs, or trolling crankbaits; each certainly has a time and place. While there is no bigger fan of tossing “pounder” Bulldawgs or trolling magnum crankbaits for cold weather giants than me, both proven and incredibly effective methods of catching big muskies, there are situations and scenarios where fishing vertical becomes the next right answer. Fishing vertical allows anglers to not only fish deeper water effectively but with better precision as well. When it comes to fishing vertical, the simple but effective jig is the unparalleled victor. I’ve used jigs to catch muskies, especially in adverse fishing conditions such as cold water, high fishing pressure situations or cold fronts, since I was a teenager. It wasn’t until last season that I discovered the perfect weapon for this situation: the Bondy Bait.

Great catch of a gaint november musky.

Jon Bondy, inventor of the Bondy Bait, displays a giant November musky caught while vertical jigging.  Photo courtesy of Jon Bondy.

What makes the Bondy Bait different from other jigs is both its size and composition. At just over 7 ounces in weight, the Bondy Bait consists of a lead-weighted stainless steel wire over which is poured and molded a soft-plastic body. Add a tail-spinner and you have roughly 9 inches of pure musky magnet.

Created by Jon Bondy, a guide hailing from Windsor, Ontario, the lure has already proven itself deadly to muskies and become a staple for anglers on the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers as well as legendary Lake St. Clair itself.  I thankfully stumbled upon Bondy Baits about a year ago, thanks to a fellow musky addict, and can tell you this much—they’re darn effective here in Wisconsin as well. From Lac Courte Oreilles in Hayward to the Manitowish Chain north of Minocqua and right on down the mighty Wisconsin River system herself, it’s quite apparent that Badgerland muskies flat out eat ‘em!

Jigs have been a staple in fishermen’s arsenals for almost as long as fishing has been in existence. The thought process that led Jon Bondy to create the Bondy Bait—“Jigs are the most important lure in the history of fishing … so why not use them for muskies?” Jig-fishing for muskies with a Bondy Bait is a tad different from fishing a smaller, lighter offering such as a J-mac or Esox Cobra Magnum jig as stouter equipment is a must. I prefer to do my jigging with a St. Croix Legend Tournament “Big Nasty” as the 9-inch length helps alleviate fatigue while working the bait in an up-and-down motion for hours at a time as well as enabling powerful hook-sets. In addition, despite the length, the rod is simply one of the lightest and most sensitive musky rods I have ever had the privilege of fishing with.

Regardless of whether you’re jigging with a Bondy Bait or other vertical presentation, location is key to finding magnum muskies during the waning weeks of the season. Deep hard-bottomed humps and saddle areas; drop-offs, especially those with irregularities and in proximity to deeper water; underwater points; and when fishing a river system, turns in the channel itself, are prime locations to begin your search for mega-musky. 
Jigging for muskies with lures such as the Bondy Bait is similar to jigging for walleyes except both the tackle and technique is greatly exaggerated. Use your Minn Kota trolling motor to move the boat just fast enough that you are able to keep the bait vertical despite wind and possible current conditions.

Work a Bondy Bait with 3- to 4-foot lifts off of the bottom. Instead of just letting the lure free fall after reaching its apex, allow your rod tip to follow the bait back down, just fast enough that the lure sinks uninterrupted but that slack in the line is not created. Keep in mind that almost every strike occurs on the fall. As Bondy reiterated to me and I have found from personal experience, the key to getting the fish of your dreams into your Frabill net is to drive the hooks home (thus the need for heavy line and a sturdy quality fishing rod) and once hooked, keep the pressure on. Keeping your hooks razor sharp and being ready to “take care of business” when a fish strikes is a must!

While the process of jigging may not be the most exciting of ways to pursue muskies, there is no denying the utter thrill and excitement of feeling that “thump” and the subsequent toe-to-toe battle that ensues after the hook-set when a kong ‘sky devours your bait. Late autumn musky fishing isn’t for everyone, but if you pay your dues, you just might find yourself holding the fish of a lifetime! I’ll see you on the water.