he makes trophy muskie fishing look so easy!
To most muskie fishermen, catching a 50-inch fish represents a lifetime ambition; only a handful ever attain this goal. In one year Mike Lazarus boated and released 29 muskies that were 50 inches or longer! Very few fishermen have ever seen muskies of over 40 pounds in their lifetimes. Lazarus’s caught 17 muskies over 40 pounds in one season, including one over 50 pounds, and a second giant that weighed 49.5 pounds!
Where is this prolific muskie hotspot and who is this Lazarus character? The answers are surprising. The waters are near Montreal, Quebec and are a closely guarded secret (Mike has had numerous offers from outdoor magazines and television programs to publicize his guiding service, but for obvious reasons he has refused). Anglers can literally fly to Montreal early in the morning and be fishing a short time after they clear customs. While locals have known of these rivers’ muskie potential, few outsiders have had an inkling.
And even among the “locals,” Lazarus’ accomplishments are virtually unmatched when it comes to consistently landing trophy muskies. Lazarus is only 30 years old, but he has invested more than a decade analyzing this fishery, guiding just a select few anglers over the years. In recent years, he has shared it with a larger scope of dedicated sportsmen who want a shot at a big muskie and will release any fish and keep his methods and places secret. Here are some details on Lazarus’ operation:
Location: The Ottawa and St Lawrence are large rivers, with many “braids” that offer productive fishing. The trick is knowing where to go and when. The reason for Lazarus’ success is that he’s put in many hours charting each bend, each channel and weed bed. Combine this understanding of the local topography with a wealth of muskie knowledge and some innovative techniques, a variety of home-carved lures, and you begin to understand why Mike Lazarus’ results are so impressive.
Lazarus also fishes a number of smaller, private lakes north of Montreal. Ringed with the occasional vacation home, these lakes are rich in smaller muskies. Anglers are not likely to hook 40 pounders here, but 20-pound fish are not uncommon, and for faster action, they are a terrific option. It’s a good place for a fly rodder to achieve a goal.
Season: From mid June through mid-to-late November. Summer fishing is typically quite productive, though the majority of the really big fish are taken in the fall when the muskies begin to feast for the impending winter. Some of the best days are the toughest weatherwise, requiring plenty of super warm clothing and PFA (positive fishing attitude).
Fishing Methods: Lazarus has developed a number of unique approaches to taking big muskies using his custom lures. Both casting and fast trolling are used, and in the smaller lakes, casting and even fly fishing is productive.
Catch and Releases: Lazarus is fanatical about and insists upon release fishing. His concern is for the muskie, and the viability of this extraordinary fishery, and he tolerates nothing less that strict adherence to catch and release. In the last four years, he has kept only two muskies–one for study by a local biologist and another which could not be revived after being landed.
Rates; Mike Lazarus charges $187.50 (U.S. funds) per day per person based on a party of two from mid-June through August. If you are fishing alone, double this rate, but you will also double the number of strikes. The rate includes guiding services (he has trained a number of young men to the point that they produce many of the big fish), use of his specially equipped boats, lunch on board each fishing day, use of his tackle and lures, launching fees and hotel transfers. Clients are responsible for breakfasts and dinners, accommodations, and fishing licenses. Modest motels near the fishing areas run under $90 a night per room, but if one insists on the posh Montreal hotels, the cost is higher. Lazarus and his guides are bilingual (Quebec is French-speaking).
Conclusion: Muskie fishing is not for everyone, but for those dedicated anglers who really want a shot at a trophy muskie, Lazarus’ waters and methods must be seriously considered.