Catching Muskie In All the Seasons of the Year
From Victor Beacham
Spring is finally upon us after a long cold winter. Reels have been been stripped, cleaned and oiled. A few new lures have been made, and Muskie anglers are chomping at the bit to get onto their favourite lakes and hunt down their favourite fish, the fresh water leviathan known as the Muskie.
The stress of winter and the rigors of spawning have takes its toll on Muskie at this time of year. The fish are not actively feeding but they are there and can be caught, if the right presentation is used. The fish are sluggish and their metabolism slow. They will not spend energy chasing and gorging themselves on large bait fish. Small artificial, more suited to bass or walleye are the route to go. Work these lures SLOW. A lighter rod with lots of feel and lighter line works great. Don't be afraid to use a spinning outfit. Only after the water temperature reaches sixty degrees should you start using larger lures and heavier tackle.
You will want to fish smaller, shallower lakes since these warm up faster. The Muskie will be in the shallower water because this area warms up earlier and minnows will concentrate here to spawn. Shorelines, shoals and incoming creek mouths are areas that should be concentrated on.
Fish late mornings and early afternoons when the overhead sun warms the water, and work later in the day as the water warms up.
By the time early summer has arrived, the water temperature should be mid-sixties. The Muskie's metabolism is at its peak, and the fish should be on.
Weed beds have thickened and turned green, attracting bait fish and hence Muskies. Weed beds near deep water are best. Fish that hang out in deeper water will head to the weed beds to feed. On larger weed beds, work the outside edges first (especially the inside turns) before heading towards the center.
Speed up your presentation at this time of year to the ideal speed for your lures. Large spinner baits, bucktails and jerk baits get the aggressive fish. Full sized crankbaits and spoons are also a good bet. Your heavy duty muskie tackle is a must!
As water temperature gets to the seventies, the Muskies once again slow down. Mornings and evenings are your prime times. The fish will suspend in deeper water. Its time to troll with large deep running plugs - it is the best way to cover a lot of water as effectively as possible. Troll with a long line and troll fast. Troll tight to weedlines, then move further out and try again. Locate sunken islands and shoals, and work these areas too.
Shaded water will also hold fish. Strap on those jerk baits, and hold on tight!
"Swimming" heavier jigs along deep water weed edges can be most productive at times. When Muskies are holding tight to the weeds, a jig will get down quicker than most lures, will not get hung up on weeds as readily as multi-hooked lures, and are more manageable on tight inside turns.
Top water action on the midnight shift is also productive. Noisy surface lures painted black and retrieved slow will produce heart stopping hits. Large bladed spinner baits are also productive.
On muggy, foggy late summer mornings, buzz baits worked very shallow next to shoreline rock, or wood structure can produce excellent results.
If you want to catch a trophy Muskie, fall is the time to do it. Most seasoned Muskie guides agree that September and October are the peak months to catch a true trophy. The water temperature drops to the mid sixties, and the Muskies start putting on fat for the upcoming winter.
Spring tactics will work in the fall, except think BIG. Jerkbaits along shorelines, are recommended. As the water cools, fish slower.
Early in the fall, mornings, evenings and nights are your best bets, but as the water temperature drops to the fifties, switch to the afternoons and early evenings. At this time the water will be warmer.
In late fall, as the weeds turn brown, Muskie will move away from them. Concentrate on the shallows, shorelines and bays Downsize your lures and fish them slow.
Good luck, good fishing, and keep a tight line!