Engbretson Underwater Photography

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News From Behind the Scenes at Engbretson Underwater Photo and Stories about the Freshwater Environments We Visit.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Best Time of Year For Muskie Pictures

Muskellunge Underwater (c)Engbretson Underwater Photography

Spring is the best and easiest time of year to photograph muskies. I shoot most of my musky images before Memorial Day. After spawning, they will continue to hang around in shallow water (generally 6 feet or less) along the shorelines. This is where it's warmest for them. I can approach them quite easily up until Memorial Day. Then, boat traffic and other increased human activity on the water drives them from these locations toward their typical summer haunts where you're less likely to easily find them.

How do you get so close to fish like Muskies? Don't they spook?
That's a question I get asked frequently by many people. To photograph fish well underwater, it's necessary to get very close to them. So how do I do that? One thing I've done is to develope a series of techniques that communicate to the fish my lack of hostility, and my general inability to compete with them as creatures perfectly designed for life underwater. One way I do that is to present myself as obviously as... possible. I don't try to ambush or deceive them. I don't wear a camouflage wet suit. I don't sneak around or hide behind boulders or timber. I don't try to advance toward a fish when he can't see me. I don't even try to be particularly quiet.
In fact I do the opposite of all those things. I make sure the fish see me coming from a long way away. I try to show myself out in the open and to demonstrate what my limitations are. Ideally, you want to convey to the fish how slow and incompetent you are in it's environment; how clumsy you are; how incredibly un-stealthy you are; this is so opposite of what a predator would do that many fish are able to detect that you're not a threat to them, based on your complete lack of cunning or covertness. You want them to see you and think that you're completely ridiculous (which you are of course). The faster you can get them to understand this, the faster their fear will disappear.