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Tips to Trophy Muskies

Muskies, the coldwater fish


Muskies are considered coolwater fish, preferring lower temps then warmwater fish like bass.  Muskies prefer temperatures in the 67 to 72º range.  Muskies can survive in a wide range of water temperatures.  Muskies are seldomly found in water below 68º F for a maximum summer temperature.


Follow the behaviors/moving patterns of muskies


Most big lakes harboring muskies see muskies spawn in shallow bays in June and often are found around the first emerging weeds.  During this early season, popular baits are minnow plubs and #5 Mepps spinners.


As summer progresses, muskies move to rocky points, mid-lake rock reefs, deep cabbage beds, and sharp dropoffs between a flat and much deeper water.

In August and September, large muskies move onto steep, rocky shores.  The most likely places are where you can find good green weeds.  Muskies can be caught right up until freezing.  They tend to take larger lures at this time of year than any other.


When muskies won't bite


-After release, muskies rarely are caught again the same day

-Muskies are rarely taken in winter

-Muskies are finicky and don't feel the same pressure to feed as other fish


Tips and equipment needs


As the first hook-set is always the best, always be ready and keep the line slack-free while reeling in.  You should also be equipped with a long-handled stiff graphite rod, large capacity baitcasting reel, and at least 150 yards of 36+ pound test line.


Brown is normally an excellent color for jerkbaits, but bright or fluorescent jerk baits work better in discolored waters.


If spinners or jerkbaits aren't working, try big crankbaits.


Using the figure-eight method to capture muskies at the boat


Muskies are famous for their habit of following lures to the boat without striking.  One technique for taking some of these trailing muskies is to use the figure-eight method.  This technique is used when you spinner is up to the boat.  To use this method, push your rod into the water, reel in the leader to the top of the rod tip, thumb the spool of the reel, and punch the free spool button.  Stick the last three to four feet of the rod as straight down into the water as possible, making parallel motions to the boat.  Move from this direction into a figure-eight motion.


Fishing cabbage areas

When fishing cabbage areas (shallow aquatic plant beds), fish the deep side first.  After fishing the deep area, then move closer and fish over the cabbage.  Fish tend to lie deep along the weedline on brighter days.  On cloudy and choppy water days they tend to hang near the weed tops or the outside edge.


What you can do to help preserve muskie fishing areas


When cabbage beds disappear from lakes, so do the muskies.  Preserving cabbage areas for muskies might require larger lot sizes and greater setbacks for homes from shorelines.  Fewer docks would give greater protection to shallow pondweeds and algae where muskies spawn.