Whether you are an experienced fisherman or just starting out, learning how to catch Muskie can be both a fun and rewarding experience. Famed for their aggressiveness and impressive size, Muskie are an extremely popular species for sports fisherman the world over. They also taste ok if you want to eat them as well.
So, with that welcome to my 5 tips for catching Muskie this year as we see what we can come up with to assist you in getting them onto the hook and into the net…
What are Muskie?
A member of the Pike family, Muskellunge – usually referred to as Muskies – are an aggressive, carnivorous freshwater gamefish found in lakes and river systems from northern Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and northern Minnesota through the Great Lakes region, Chautauqua Lake in western New York, north into Canada.
Also referred to as Musky, Lunge, Maskinonge or Ugly Pike, they live predominately in shallow, slow moving lakes and rivers where there is generally a lot of structure such as weed (they love weed) and fallen logs etc. And like their cousins the Northern Pike, they have have long, torpedo shaped bodies that are most often light silver, brown or green with dark vertical stripes or spots on the flanks with a white belly (Northern Pike however have darker bodies with white spots).
They also have flat snouts that are almost alligator like in appearance which are filled with razor sharp teeth as well.
Tips for catching muskie
Ok, so let’s get into some of my tips for catching Muskie below…
1. Know the habitat
Understanding their preferred habitat will help you narrow down your search for the best fishing spots. The trouble here is that as with Northern Pike, Muskie don’t move around much meaning you are going to have to go to them. Additionally, the the chances of you leaving your bait in the water and waiting for a nice big Muskie to swim by are minimal at best,.
So as above, Muskie prefer to live in large, deep, clear lakes and rivers with plenty of cover, such as weed beds, fallen trees, and rocks. This means as you move from spot to spot, if you have an understanding of where these structures are within your waterway, then your chances of landing one will increase.
2. Use appropriate tackle and gear
Muskie are notoriously difficult to catch, so using the right gear is essential. You will need a strong, heavy-duty rod and reel with a high gear ratio. Braided fishing line is recommended for its strength and durability and a wire leader may also necessary to prevent the muskie from biting through your line.
When it comes to lures, muskie prefer large, flashy baits that mimic the movement of their prey. Topwater lures, such as bucktails and prop baits, are particularly effective. Additionally, in my research, the best colors to match the natural baits for Muskie include:
I have however also seen evidence of success with reds, blues and yellows as well. And whilst we are discussing lures, keep in mind that you will be dragging them through vegetation so look for long and slender options such as hard jigs, popper or spoons that will not gather too much weed along the way.
Check out these: Rod and Reel Combos for Muskie
3. Use the Right Technique
Muskie are known to be wary and can be difficult to catch, so once you have chosen your lures as above, using the right technique is crucial. The most effective way to catch muskie is to cast your lure near their preferred habitat, such as weed beds or fallen trees and then retrieve your lure slowly, using a figure-eight motion to simulate the movement of prey.
This technique can entice the muskie to strike your lure but keep in mind that they are not typically aggressive feeders, so it may take some time to get a bite.
4. Time your trip appropriately
As with many species, Muskie tend to be more active in the early morning and late evening when the water is cooler. They also tend to be more active during overcast or cloudy weather, as opposed to bright, sunny days – which is a great option when those ‘sunny day’ species are not on the bite.
This means again as with most species, it’s important to plan your fishing trip accordingly and try to time your fishing during these periods of heightened activity. Additionally, Muskie tend to migrate to different areas depending on the season, so it’s important to research their movements in the area you plan to fish – local bait and tackle shops are a great source of information here.
5. Practice patience and persistence
If you haven’t gathered this from all of the above, catching muskie requires a great deal of patience and persistence. It’s not uncommon to spend an entire day fishing without catching anything. However, with the right technique, gear, and timing, you increase your chances of success. If you’re not having any luck in one spot, don’t be afraid to move to a different location or try a different lure. Remember, muskie are notoriously difficult to catch, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch anything right away.
So there you have it, my 5 Muskie fishing tips for those looking to get amongst them this year. As always, these are not going to guarantee you a catch, however they should give you a little more chance of success that you may not have otherwise had.
Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you – or of course have a different opinion than above? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.