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Norm Talks Wisconsin Muskies

Chat With Guide Norm Wild

Muskie First
Published March 14, 2008

MuskieFIRST Welcomes Guide Norm Wild to the Chat Room, Welcome Norm!
nwild: thanks for having me

sorno: Norm, what boat you in now?

nwild: Tuffy 1890. For my waters you can't find a better rig
lambeau: what makes it the best rig for your waters?

nwild: The Tuffy 1890 handles big water extremely well, and Pelican can really get rocking yet it is small enough to put in the puddles around the Rhinelander area

nwild: It has tons of storage and huge front and back decks for client comfort and the guides

tuffdaddy: How is it for room verses your old Cresty

nwild: The front deck is the same size basically, but I have the Esox series so the back deck eats up the old Fish Hawk's

tuffdaddy: What is your approach to mid summer muskies Norm. Shallower deeper?

nwild: Mid summer Tuff I am generally fishing Pelican very hard. I concentrate hard on the breaks. If it is overcast or lowlight I will fish very shallow, and deeper in the bright stuff.

nwild: Sometimes I am a cast off of structure in bright sunshine flat waters

nwild: and in lowlight in as little as 1 2 feet

tuffdaddy: Even in higher water temps?

lambeau: what are you preferred waters after opener in May/June, and where do you start your search for muskies?

nwild: In the early part of spring I generally fish darker waters with current. A couple that come to mind immediately are 3 lakes and the moen's

nwild: I like current in the spring if possible, and the darker water makes for more consistent fishing. I generally start in neckdowns, weed edges and timber

Ajohnson: What is going to be the first lure you are going to throw this year norm?

nwild: hard telling, I really don't have favorite lures. I select baits according to conditions

nwild: I will have to wait and see what I am dealing with

Pointer: Have you tossed a krusher yet?

nwild: Nope, I will this year though

sorno: Norm, do you have any special game plan up your sleeve for Operation Muskie?

nwild: sorno: It was such an honor to be asked to participate in this. With all the great fisherman that will be up there, its bound to be a great learning experience. I guess my goal is to learn from the rest of the guides as well as try to put some of our awesome vets on some fish
nwild: I am ready and pumped for it.

tuffdaddy: Hey Bret, how many vets are going to be at Operation Muskie?

Bret_Wold: 20 with 10 guides

tuffdaddy: cool. When is it again?

Bret_Wold: 5 8 Aug, Walsh's Bay Store, LOTW

Pointer: What are your typical spring baits then general?

nwild: typically in the spring I will have a Baby Wabull, a Mepps Marabou, a Topraider, and a 7 inch Suick ready to go. twitch baits would also be in the mix

tuffdaddy: Do you ever throw Weagles early on? or bigger stuff?

tuffdaddy: say over the emerging lily pads. :)

nwild: absolutely, I find a lot of years the wtd topwaters outperform tail baits. You just got to let the fish let you know what they want

nwild: Last year on the opener on the 3 lakes chain Mike Conklyn boated a 46 with me on a 9" Suick, so you never really know. The big stuff will work early.

tuffdaddy: So what would get you to throw a tail bait over a wtd bait?
lambeau: how do the fish tell you what they're looking for? what kinds of signs do you key in on?

nwild: Its more of a feel thing than any kind of science. Certain conditions get me to throw different baits. I could write for the rest of the night on some of my idiosyncracys on that

sorno: do you throw any spinnerbaits in the spring

nwild: I will sorno if the weed growth is high already or the fish are sluggish and I want to get into the weeds. If I have a choice though I will work over them with an inline. It's more efficient

nwild: generally warming waters get me throwing straight line baits, cooling water slows down the baits and makes them more erratic. That is my theory in a nutshell

nwild: sworrall: I generally start at the weedlines in the spring. I am not much for wading up inthe shallow slop early unless I have to. I tend to find larger (females) fish on the edges

Bret_Wold: With the popularity of Muskie fishing increasing, do you find that you are getting more clients that are newbies wanting to learn or out for their first time?

nwild: I do get a lot of first timers, or frustrated newcomers. I also get a pretty good percentage of experienced anglers. I would guess the mix is very close to what is actually on the water

lambeau: what do you see as the key things you offer guide clients? what does someone get out of their day on the water with you that might be different or unique?

nwild: Like any other good guide, I feel I know my waters very well. I also love to see people catch fish and will fish until either they quit or the darkness gets us.

Bret_Wold: what gives you the most joy out of guiding folks?

nwild: Netting fish and happy clients at the end of the day. I want people to have a good time in the boat whether its from fish activity or my wierd sense of humor.

Pointer: Did you see any improvements in size structure on Pelican this season?

nwild: Pointer: Not at all yet Pointer. The limit was only in effect for one year so there was zero chance at seeing any change yet. I would expect to start seeing changes in a few years

nwild: and actually part of the goal is to see more small fish by protecting the spawners

Pointer: So how then do you feel about the proposed 50 on Enterprise? Good? Bad? Can that lake support that kind of limit?

nwild: Pointer: I have mixed emotions about Enterprise pointer. I am always for higher limits, but 45 might have been easier to swallow on that lake
sworrall: Please give us a short few words on what it took to get the size limit on Pelican changed, Norm

nwild: We approached it by trying to get support from the locals. Once we got the fisheries biologist, businesses and the lake association on our side the rest was pretty easy.

nwild: Support was the key

tuffdaddy: How did you go about getting the businesses behind your proposal?

nwild: tuffdaddy: We talked to them which sounds simple but not many people would take the time to talk to them about it. We used science and real numbers from other areas with higher limits.

nwild: Everything showed them that the higher limits would increase there traffic during the time they need it the most, october and november
Bret_Wold: Was the Lake Assoc hard to sell?

nwild: Bret_Wold: No we had a great presenter on our side. I tip my hat to Mr. Worrall, he was as smooth...

lambeau: did it increase traffic in October/November for them already this year?

sorno: yep, they even got a guy from Utah...

nwild: Hard to tell after one year. Most people aren't going to come until they start hearing about the big fish. It certainly didn't hurt their business any.

tuffdaddy: So when we are up in the north woods, then we should start saying we got our big fish on Pelican instead of Trout?

nwild: tuffdaddy:!

Pointer: What kind of opposition can you expect if you draw up a proposal for higher size limits?

nwild: Pointer: THree basic groups. The catch and keep that don't want to be regulated, the johnny deserves to keep his fish, and the anti anything DNR.

lambeau: what do your "home lakes" (3 Lakes, Moens, Pelican...) offer someone who's considering a trip to N WI? why go to that part of Oneida county vs. Minocqua or Vilas Co or Hayward, etc.?

nwild: lambeau: Its a little more laid back, not as touristy. It feels more northwoods. (Read less pressure on the fish)

sorno: would you support allowing power trolling there?

nwild: absolutely. I feel they have taken a tool out of our tool box by not allowing trolling. There is a lot more to trolling than just dragging baits, and sometimes it is the most efficient way

nwild: to contact fish. Plus it would really clear up the sucker rules in the fall

tuffdaddy: What types of areas do you fish in late fall? Say <40 water temps

nwild: I am a steep break guy. I abandon the weeds almost entirely. Sand, rock and points dropping into the basin are the areas I concentrate on. You have to have deep water near, but don't have to be in deep water
nwild: I always have the basin at my back but often get the fish in less than 5' of water

tuffdaddy: Norm, is that on clean bottom or rocks? I can't imagine many weeds then

nwild: yes, either rocks or sand. Its funny how many fish I get off of sand flats, yet nobody really talks about fishing them. Lots of perch there at times.

Bret_Wold: With all the new lures that have been coming out over the past couple of years, do you still have a "core" set of lures that you rely on?

nwild: yes, I do. I prefer baits that don't give me any problems. I stick to alot of the old standbys Mepps, Suicks, the Top Raider and other Raiders, Mojos stuff is awesome as well as H2O

Bret_Wold: I think that some folks can get overwhelmed by all the different choices and end up changing lures more than they are actually fishing

nwild: Baits are tools, I think too many people put to much emphasis on magic baits, and not location they are throwing their baits
PEteacher44: Have you thrown the H2O Hardhead yet?

nwild: Yes I have, not much but the time I got to last fall I was impressed by it. The hard head has a neat wiggle on the pause, you have to see it to understand

Pointer: Is the Queen still alive and well?

nwild: Pointer: I haven't seen the queen for a couple of years now, but did find a new one that is close

lambeau: can you talk about your thoughts on location? what makes for a "right" location?

nwild: lambeau: Too many people fish haphazard and don't pay attention to edges. I watch people go right across some of the best areas on spots and miss it completely because they aren't paying attention

nwild: Spines and turns in breaklines are golden, but not many pay enough attention to their electronics to locate them

nwild: Now with the new chips and such coming out it is nearly impossible not to find them...makes me think maybe I should right an article on map reading

tuffdaddy: How often do you run and gun verses working maybe a few spots?

nwild: Any time I think the fish will be active I am going to run and gun. June July and August are usually spent fishing fairly quickly and looking for active fish.

nwild: I fish like an old bobber fisherman in the fall though and rarely fish more than a spot or two, Cold fronts and high skies will slow me down as well

nwild: But usually my goal is to present my fish in as many good spots as I can in a day trying to find an active one
Bret_Wold: when you find the active fish, will you spend a considerable amount of time on them, or move off until a weather change, sunset, etc comes around?

nwild: Bret_Wold: Generally I won't leave fish to find fish, but if I feel I am burning an area out I will move to a very identical structure and look there.

sorno: What indicators do you use in identifying a spot you've 'burned out'?

nwild: sorno: If the spot is full of active fish the first pass, the second pass you move a few lazy ones, I will leave it for a bit and try to contact some fresh dumb ones

Pointer: How are the weed conditions going to be on Pelican this season? Didnt the rusties do a bit of a number on them for a while?

nwild: Pointer: Weed conditions have been improving every year out there for the last 5. I think the rusties found a balance in the system and the lake is more normal now

Pointer: How about water levels for the rhinelander areas? How much will this winter help?

Oneida_Esox: Pointer: water levels will increase, snow pack is pretty good all over the state. I'm in the UP right now and there is a LOT of snow here. Not sure how much it will increase, but it should help.

Oneida_Esox: they will have to hold a lot of water back on the MISS which should fill the WI up

sworrall: What equipment to you like, Norm, rods and reels...

nwild: Rods I use nothing but St. Croix. Reels I am all over the place cuz I fish left handed. I use Okuma, and Abus. I was pretty impressed by the Induron last year

Ajohnson: which abus do you run Norm?

nwild: Ajohnson: Mostly 7000's I got used to them and really like the big girls

nwild: rumor has it (ssshhhhhhh) St. Croix is coming out with lefties next year

sorno: what's a good price for a Grasshopper in a Northwoods bar?

lambeau: as much wet money as your partner has in his pocket...

tuffdaddy: Norm, how can one get a hold of you if they wanted to book you?

lambeau: Norm...what's your website addy and contact info for anyone who's interested in booking you for a day on the water?

nwild: Phone is 715 216 1297

nwild: my website is Or Pm me on Muskiefirst I'm here everyday

sorno: what's your favorite part about guiding?

nwild: sorno: Happy clients I love seeing smiles on faces and know I helped put them there.

lambeau: MuskieFirst would like to thank Norm Wild for spending time with us for this chat. Thanks Norm!!!