Muskie Analytics: The Power of Data
By John Ramirez
Have you ever read the book or seen the movie Moneyball? By using data rather than traditional ideas about what makes good or bad baseball players, the Oakland A’s ball club overcame severe payroll disadvantages and became a powerhouse in the American League.
Muskie fishermen are the Oakland A’s of fishing. Because the sport of muskie fishing is so tough, most of us lack the resources (in this case, time on the water, not money) to be successful. As a result, most muskie fishermen settle for low catches, small fish and––worse yet––get excited by “swirls” and “follows.”
Is there a way to make the learning curve less steep? Can we become better muskie fishermen quickly and easily? Can we mimic what the Oakland A’s did? The answer to all of these questions is, yes!
So where do we begin? I have analyzed over 300,000 recorded muskie catches from the “Lunge Log” in Muskies Inc. The data is incredible––a true testament to just how serious muskie fishermen are! For each fish caught, a variety of conditions from wind speed to water temperature to lake name are recorded.
What does this mean for you and me? It means that we can use data to play “the game” differently, and climb the learning curve more quickly than we ever thought possible. Here’s an example of how we can put the data to use.
I fish primarily in the Vilas/Oneida County areas in northern Wisconsin. Recently I decided to undertake a quick analysis to see which lakes have produced the most fish since 2006 in these counties during the month of May.
In other words, I am beginning to narrow down my choices so that when Saturday, May 26 comes, I can optimize my time on the water. Some expected lakes, which are known to be great spring producers came up, but so did a few unexpected lakes. In particular, Sevenmile has produced a good number of fish.
The Top 5 List for opening weekend muskie in Vilas/Oneida Counties are:
1. Lac Vieux Desert
2. Manitowish Chain
5. Willow Reservoir
This is only one (very basic) example of the power of the data. The applications of my analysis are so vast, I cannot begin to touch the possibilities in this article.
Currently, I am working on a model to predict size of fish (in inches), based on fishing conditions at the time of catch. What this will mean in the future, is that I will be able to optimize my time on the water to guarantee that I am putting myself in the best position possible to bring home that 50-incher.
Rigorous statistical analysis has helped me refine my plan for this summer. In the past, I have found myself truly overwhelmed: Where to go? What to fish? When to fish? This year, based on my work with the data, I can specify my routines more closely. I will have a plan driven by a robust data set that we all have access to via Muskies Inc.
Thanks to the data supplied by Muskies Inc. combined with some statistical know-how, I am now playing the game differently––relying on data, not subjective ideas––and I want to share my findings with you. In each issue of Fishing Facts I will write an article, supplying information you can use to improve your muskie fishing. Like the A’s did in 2002, it’s time for us to bring home a winner!
John Ramirez is a University of Chicago graduate and an avid muskie fisherman who applies his knowledge in advanced statistical techniques to improve his muskie fishing. He is now sharing his information, Musky Analytics, with the muskie community at large. With a group of four friends, he has started Musky Lure Club (www.MuskyLureClub.com), where he also publishes online articles. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.