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  • Writer's pictureNew Wave Fishing Academy

Musky Fishing Deep Water With Cullen Veiders

cullen veiders musky fishing deep water

Musky fishing is a sport that can drive the best of us crazy. Hours, days, and sometimes weeks of nothing all for a few seconds of insanity. While the type of fishing most anglers do can seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack there is one area that actually is; deep water trolling over the open waters. Not too many anglers can brave this task long enough to gain confidence and even fewer find consistent success. One who was? Cullen Veiders Musky Candies Customs who has landed multiple GIANT musky over the past few seasons including this 59.5" MEGA musky. Better yet they have all been successfully released. We wanted to catch up with Cullen and pick his brain when it comes to Deep Water Musky Fishing & Deep Water Musky Trolling specifically. He was kind enough to answer a few questions to help other musky hunters tackle the deep water challenge! Check it out below:

New Wave: Musky fishing is already tough enough to stay confident. How do you get the confidence to spend your time searching for a needle in the haystack?

Cullen Veiders:

I stay confident while fishing for needle in a haystack musky by what the sonar/graphs are showing if I see marks or bait I know to narrow down the area and work those hooks also remembering that the next bite could be a world record class fish

New Wave: When you think of deep water trolling is this just over / near deep water or actually having your bait down deep? What would you consider to be deep (20, 30, 50, 70?)

Cullen Veiders:

I consider deep fishing 30+ feet of water regardless of the bait’s depth but definitely a different game when putting baits down 30+ feet. Last year my biggest came 22’ down over 60’.

New Wave: When deep water musky tolling do you think that you are targeting fish that have moved deep due to time of year or are they just deep water residents? Ie have they chose to follow deep water forage given time of year and would chase shallower stuff at different times or do you think they only focus on deep water forage. From the above what do you think they feed on? Smelt & Cisco are obvious answers but what about whitefish, walleye, lake trout, salmon or all of the above?

Cullen Veiders:

I believe the ones in my case are migratory that aren’t typically around until October through June. I believe they stay deep on bait typically feeding on alewives, perch, suckers, walleye and ciscos approaching winter I believe musky will move up or down to eat because I’ve watched them jigging or deep trolling do so on livescope but typically stay right at their depth or above but the later it is the more I want it right in their face.

New Wave: This one may be a bit sensitive but have you noticed if deep water musky behaviour is to suspend over deep water but shallow, move down to eat, then return to warmer shallows to digest or stay deep with forage most of the time?

Cullen Veiders:

I believe the musky digest where they are in most situations but earlier in summer them swimming back shallow does make sense.

New Wave: No way to hide that a lot of your giants come at night. For pelagic fish its common knowledge they exhibit DVM (fancy term for moving up in water column in Low light, deeper in water column when bright) but less commonly known they also make shoreward movements from centre of abyss to areas that may be more reachable. Are the ski’s / bait just too deep during the day for this technique to work or night is just when all the factors come together for best chance?

 Cullen Veiders:

As far as night I’ve just found fish are less apprehensive. Time of year, water clarity and just what the fish in any certain fishery can dictate how good the night bite is.

New Wave: Common tactical idea amongst anglers in low light & night is to use loud obnoxious baits like rattles & jointed versions. Have you found this to make any difference or more concerned with getting a bait in front of fish?

Cullen Veiders:

All my baits I use do not have rattles but I’ve used them in the past as well. I’ve found it’s usually fish preference I’ve seen them only eat straight one day and only jointed the next.

New Wave: Getting baits over 30 ft is a difficult task without specialized gear. Have you experimented with down riggers, dipsy or jet divers, or inline weights to drag crank baits down?

Cullen Veiders:

I typically will use wire line to achieve depth with baits that you typically couldn’t.

New Wave: Final and most important question for anyone thinking to try. Deep water fishing always poses the risk of barotrauma and fish mortality. Musky do have the ability to burp or gulp air to help regulate their swim bladder but while stressed from fight this may not happen. how do you ensure the health of these fish you bring from the depths? IS it a slow fight to allow them to adjust, using release tools that bring them down deep, or is it a non-factor

Cullen Veiders:

As far as barotruama it’s always a risk but trolling fish is usually a longer fight. Proper handling, having the right tools, but more important is keeping the fish upright until it’s ready. Unlike bass or walleye musky can release/swallow air through their mouth. You can physically see the air gradually decreasing. At times we have sat there for a good period of time but even if it takes an hour until you watch that fish swimming away gaining depth on its own it should never be left unattended unless death occurs. If you’ve caught enough big musky it will happen eventually and I’ve heard of fish basically stroking out as soon as they’ve hit the net prior to even being handled. It’s unfortunate but it’s the reality of the sport. With proper handling and release tactics the chances of this can be reduced greatly

We'd like to thank Cullen for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing with everyone. The unknowns of the deep make us wonder just how big musky can get & what could be waiting for us on the next outing. Cullen is a pioneer of the deep water musky trolling game and we look forward to seeing more giants from him in the future. Be sure to check out his facebook page and website Musky Candies Customs for high quality musky baits Cullen uses to catch his monsters!

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