We have quite a history with Captain Brad Haggitt over the years and we are happy to call him a friend and thankful to have the chance to pick his mind regarding one of the more elusive fish in the Great Lakes waters. We hope you enjoy this month's edition of American Raised Outdoors Muskie 10 since the water temps are warming up and providing a better chance of catching these elusive fish. The picture in this edition is a fish we landed with Captain Brad a few years back.
1 - Please share a bit about yourself and what prompted you to pursue a career in fishing/guiding?
I am the owner of Greenhead Fishing Charters out of Belle River Ontario CA. I am lucky and blessed to have Lake St. Clair right out my back door. I grew up spending all my early years either fishing or hunting waterfowl. I started my charter service in 1998. I thought I would turn my passion for fishing into a business and have no regrets 32 years later. I still enjoy and love the challenge of putting someone on the fish of their life.
2 - What is the length of your season and how does the fishing change in that timeframe?
Muskie season opens the 1st Saturday in June and closes December 15th here. In the beginning of the season, fish are generally still shallow and hang close to traditional spawning areas. As water warms, muskie tend to move to deeper water and suspend at those depths feeding primarily on sheepshead but will eat whatever opportunities happen to swim by. As water temperatures cool later in the season, muskie start to move up shallow again feeding heavily on shad trying to bulk up for winter.
3 - Considering all of your experiences over the years, what is your favorite and most productive method for targeting muskie?
I am a trolling charter. I like to use big planer board boat rods trolling at 4.5 mph and like to cover water with the hopes of hearing a reel start singing.
4 - What is your go to rod, reel and line set up when targeting muskie?
Good quality rods and reels with good, smooth drags in 30 Series and 6-7' rods for planer boards and 6-10' for boat rods, depending on your boat size. Good quality line in 30-40lbs with 60-80lbs fluorocarbon leaders. I personally prefer and use Ugly Stik rods, Okuma reels and Cajun Line Seaguar fluorocarbon.
5 - Please share your thoughts on best time of day to target muskie and how those thoughts may change throughout the season?
My favorite time to muskie fish is simply when they are eating. First and last light seem to almost always have feeding windows yet most of my big fish have come midday. Also, it would be wise to keep your eye on the different moon phases and how it affects the bite.
6 - What is one of the most important factors when fishing for and targeting muskie?
Without a doubt, confidence is key when muskie fishing. Always believe that when you put a lure in the water that it is going to get hit!
7 - We realize a bulk of your fishing is done on Lake St. Clair. Many people travel from a great distance to fish this lake. From a conservation standpoint, what makes this lake so special for the many species it contains? With so many people fishing this lake, what can the average person fishing this lake do to help the sustainability of this great fishery?
All my muskie charters take place on Lake St Clair. With Lake Huron feeding it and Lake Erie taking the flow on the back end, Lake St. Clair's water turns over in days, not weeks or months so oxygen levels stay very high. As far as people helping the fishery, it is best to take care of fish that are caught as best we can by having camera, measuring board, scale all ready for use before the fishing starts with the hopes of keeping the stress on these great fish to a minimum when out of water.
8 - Do you mind sharing what customers that may fish with you can expect along with average size of fish caught? Also, what is the biggest fish you have ever boated from a length and weight standpoint?
I always tell new customers that I average a fish per hour on muskie trips. Most days, it is better than that but some trips we have to grind a bit more. After all, they are muskie which are known as the fish of 1000 casts. Average fish are generally 38-40". Personal boat bests are 56" long and 42lbs.. It is always a treat to see these big fish up close and personal.
9 - With all of the great info provided, what is the most helpful, final tip you can leave for a new muskie fisherman?
Confidence, confidence and more confidence! But, pay attention to the little details. Watch how your baits are swimming and learn how to tune your lures. If your lure doesn't look like it is swimming right to you, just imagine what a muskie is thinking! Muskie baits come in all sizes and colors. I prefer natural colors and I start the season using 6-8" baits and may increase size up to 12" in late fall but always remember bigger isn't necessarily always better. Remember, elephants eat peanuts!
10 - Lastly, please share a fun fact about Captain Brad outside of fishing that many may not know about you?
When I am not on the water, most of my spare time revolves around my obsession for bow hunting whitetail. It is a year round passion and I love every aspect starting with picking up sheds in the spring to monitoring mineral sites all summer to climbing in a stand in the fall. My wife says I may have a problem and I must say, I agree!
We hope you enjoyed this edition of all things muskie. Captain Brad is known to pursue more than just muskie. His season begins in April in the Detroit River catching walleye. From there, on June 1st he puts his 30' Wellcraft Coastal in Leamington, Ontario to chase more walleye. On July 10th, he moves to Wheatley, Ontario where he targets a great mix of walleye and steelhead. He then returns to Lake St. Clair on August 15th to begin to chase the tigers of freshwater until sometime in November.
To get in touch to schedule/spend a day on the water searching for your fish of a lifetime with Captain Brad, call him via phone at 519.919.7751 or connect via website www.greenheadfishingcharters.com. Get on the water.....where muskie memories are made!
Tight lines all...