Muskie Fishing Techniques
Catching a muskie requires using the right gear, finding the top locations, learning the best techniques.
To catch your first muskie, you have to understand the musky’s habits and have some basic but adequate equipment.
Basic Muskie Equipment for Beginners
Rod and Reel
A 7.5 or 8 foot medium-heavy rod and bait casting reel combination with 30 pound braided line.
Popular muskie lures include very large bucktail spinner baits, crank baits, and stick baits.
Wire leaders should always be used when fishing for muskies. The strength of the leader should be 80 to 100 pound test.
The net you use when you catch a muskie must be large enough to handle the biggest fish you are likely to catch in the lake or river you are fishing. Buy a net that is made with high quality fish-friendly mesh. It makes the job of releasing the fish much easier.
Jaw Spreaders and Hook Removers
Jaw spreaders are crucial for assisting hook removal. Muskies have very strong jaws and extremely sharp teeth. It is almost impossible to remove the hook if you do not have a set of spreaders to keep the fishes mouth open.
Hook removers or needle-nose pliers should be used to take out the hooks. A big musky can take your finger off.
Polarized glasses allow you to see down into the water which is essential for fishing for muskies because the muskie often follows the lure right up until the very last moment before it makes the decision to take the bait or let it go. Without the polarized glasses it is difficult to see the fish and you either miss an opportunity to entice the muskie to bite by moving the lure around, or you lose a musky that hammers the lure at the last second because you are surprised by the sudden attack and unprepared to fight the fish so close to the boat or shore.
The challenge with polarized glasses is to find an affordable and stylish pair that fit over your existing glasses. Bass pro has a good pair:
Cocoons Over-Glasses Polarized Aviator Sunglasses
Here is a good beginner rod and reel combo for both muskies and big northern pike.
Location – Top Musky Habitat
Where do you find a muskie?
Shorelines with mixed weeds in water depth up to 6 feet are popular feeding areas for medium size muskies. They will cruise around looking for perch or bass. In the spring they may also attack young ducks.
Quick drop-offs from weed beds, especially around islands or a reef, are prime spots that often attract larger muskies because they are closer to the deeper water.
Weed beds of thick and leafy “cabbage weed” located near a point, small island, or a partly sheltered bay often hold a territorial muskie.
Channels between two islands or two bodies of water are good places to troll for big muskies that are roaming between feeding grounds.
The best water temperature for a muskie, according to the Ontario MNR, is about 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit).
Techniques For Catching Muskies
How do you catch your first musky?
A musky is a very suspicious fish and will often follow the lure all the way to the boat or dock before deciding whether to hit or not. It is important to tease the fish at the end of the retrieve and motivate it to attack the lure.
Wearing polarized glasses allows you to see the muskie as it follows the lure back to the boat or shore.
When casting for muskies, retrieve crank baits at a slow to medium speed. As the lure approaches the boat or dock, lift your rod and jerk the lure towards the surface for the last few feet. This makes the musky think the prey is making a dash to get away. Then let the lure float up or sink down for a few seconds. Finally, lower the rod tip into the water and run the lure in a “figure 8” pattern two or three times before reeling it in for another cast. Often times this last effort will trigger the muskie’s instinct to take the lure.
If the muskie attacks the bait at close range, hold on tight. It is going to be a wild fight!
Remember to check the local regulations regarding the opening of muskie season for the area you plan to fish.