In today’s interview, we talk with Ben Scriver about chasing down Ontario Musky. Ben also just got married. So, we talk about the wedding a bit as well. Ben provides some great information about the places he fishes and the techniques he uses to catch Ontario musky.
First of all, congratulations on getting married. How was the wedding?
Thank you! The wedding was fantastic! My wife Chelsey and I had a private, short and sweet ceremony in my parents’ backyard, and a small reception in Barrie, Ontario, right on Kempenfelt Bay, Lake Simcoe. It was very suiting to our love of the outdoors and fishing! It was a great evening and luckily nobody went overboard on the partying, so all was good!
How was Ontario musky fishing in 2017 for you?
The Musky fishing was a challenge. Trying to find the time and finances to spare, while still planning and saving for a wedding was a little difficult. Even though I wasn’t able to spend as much time on the water as I would have preferred, there was still some great fish caught, new waters explored, and new friends made. I had a personal goal to get two specific friends on their first Musky this year and in the last trip of the year for each, the goal was accomplished! I couldn’t be happier about getting the ‘monkey off their backs,” and that, for me, made my season.
What have you learned this year about muskie fishing that you didn’t know last year?
As a Musky fisherman, you are constantly learning. Every outing taught me something a little different, as well as fishing with other anglers and learning from them. Everyone has tips and tricks and seem to know their waters, but are often proved wrong on those fishless days. Learning to adapt to change throughout the day has helped me land a few more fish, and make the most of my trips on the water. The mighty Muskellunge will always be teaching me new ways to improve my fishing tactics, and that’s what keeps me going back for more.
What are your favorite places to fish for Ontario musky?
A few favourites so far in my Musky career would have to include:
Georgian Bay: truly making you put your time in while enjoying the serene beauty of nature. There is nothing more real feeling in the hunt than just you, your fishing buddy, and the open water; the scenery and surroundings are breathtaking, not to mention a chance at a true giant!
Kawartha Lakes: quantity before quality, although there are some great fish in it’s waters. The Kawartha lakes make for a lot of fun and multiple fish days, with an opportunity at landing a bigger fish thrown into the mix. Some of the busier lakes get heavy with other pleasure craft users in the summer months, but there are many options fishing smaller lakes or rivers during the open season.
Eastern Ontario: It is a land of opportunity with several lakes and rivers, that has proven to be some of the best fishing for me. The muskies seem to humble you in ways you can’t imagine, especially after you have 20+ fish in one day follow to the boat, and not commit. I could be wrong, but it feels like the fish out there are bigger, meaner, and not as easy to trick into eating. maybe it’s just me! locations not disclosed…lol.
What is your favorite method to catch Ontario musky?
I love casting for musky using inline spinnerbaits, especially when they eat in the figure 8! There is nothing more heart stopping than when that fish decides to eat, while chasing down your blades! Keys to being successful with a spinner bait is to try to cover as much water as possible, with multiple casts, relatively close together. Don’t be afraid to make multiple casts only a few feet apart, in order to attract a large predator. My favourite baits to use are my Handlebarz Musky Lures!
What other methods and baits do you love to use when fishing for muskie?
Slow rolling (slow retrieving), big swimbaits can prove to be effective as water temps drop. Trolling can be a lot of fun, while covering water, figuring out the best baits to use, and looking for structure, or bait fish. I missed an amazing strike on a top water bait this past summer and it’s got me a lot more focused on my topwater game. Using the right bait presentation for the right condition can prove successful.
How much do you find that color of baits matters for muskie in the lakes you fish?
I like to think the presentation for the right situation is more important than colour choice, but there are certain colours that tend to prove more successful on certain bodies of water. I like to try and ‘match the hatch,’ for the time of year, using hotter or brighter colours in early season, and darker and more metallic as the season progresses. It has helped me land more fish and get more follows this past year and will continue to be an ongoing experiment. This is all not to say that bright colours may work near season closer or dark colours won’t work in the early season. If the musky is hungry, agitated, or curious enough to eat a lure, it will.
Overall, what is your favorite time of year to catch Ontario musky?
I love fishing for Musky in early to mid summer. The bite is turning on, water temperatures are typically in the high 60’s, low 70’s, the weather is usually nice enough to throw on a pair of shorts and a tshirt, and the days are longer, providing more time on the water. Of course, as the weather and water gets closer to freezing, the chances of catching a trophy are quite great, but the conditions are typically not ideal. It can also get dangerous on the water. You will still see me out there in those conditions, but I like to be comfortable when I’m spending full days on the water, throwing baits as big as my head, until a true freshwater giant comes to feed.
Who are your current sponsors and what do you like about each of their products for catching Ontario musky?
I happen to be lucky enough to be a part of the Handlebarz Musky Lures Pro Staff. Handlebarz is a Canadian based company that produces the most affordable, durable, and effective inline spinnerbaits on the market. Handlebarz builds an array of flashabou and marabou patterns that you won’t find anywhere else. Their baits have the potential to catch you almost any sized musky, from your first fish, to your personal best. Great patterns, indestructible hardware, and a great family of people to assist you in catching your next musky.
I also happen to be a product rep for Brant’s Tackle, based out of Montreal, Quebec. Brants Tackle produces a collection of fishing tackle for all species, and the Musky gear is one of a kind. My favourite Musky Lure from Brant’s would have to be the Kraken. It’s is an innovative inline spinnerbait that combines the attraction of a spinnerbait and the inticement of a rubber bait. At the end of the lure, there is a collection of rubber tails that flail in the water upon retrieve. It is like nothing else I have seen in the water and it is an entirely new approach to catching Muskies.
Have you caught your 50″ muskie yet? Yes, I have been very fortunate to catch a 50″ Musky while fishing the Ottawa River. It was a moment shared with great friends that I will never forget.
If I would’ve told you that you were guaranteed to catch a 50″ muskie the morning of your wedding but you wouldn’t have had time to change out of your fishing clothes before walking down the aisle, would you have gone fishing the morning of your wedding? And would she have understood?
If you told me I was guaranteed to catch a 50″ fish I would tell you, you should read more and do some research on Musky fishing! There is never a guarantee while Musky fishing, except that you’re going to be tired on your ride home. As a matter of fact, there were 2 different Musky tournaments on the day of my wedding that I was suppose to attend, but there is no question on which was more important to me. Especially since my wife would probably attach some treble hooks to me and cast me out after finding I went fishing that morning! There’s always another day to fish. Family first, those Muskies will still be there tomorrow.
Thanks Ben for all of that great information. Ben can be followed on Instagram @the.bs.angler.