Muskellunge, or Muskie, as it is more commonly known, is a large member of the pike family that can weigh up to 70 pounds or more.
The Muskie can have a silvery color with dark spots, greenish with dark stripes or green without stripes or spots. A naturally solitary creature, the Muskie requires plenty of room to roam. When fishing for these aggressive predators, patience is the essence. Not only are they challenging to catch but they are known for their supreme fighting abilities which will surely test the stamina of a true sports fishing enthusiast.
Muskie is mainly found in Canada in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Lake of the Woods. In the US they are fished in Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Great Lakes. They are also found in the St Lawrence River between Watertown, New York and Kingston, Ontario. One type of Muskie, the greenish colored ones, inhabits Lake Chautauqua in Western New York, Tennessee and North Carolina. Depending on the weather and environmental conditions, Muskie can be found in a variety of locations in these waters including weedbeds and bars.
You can use a variety of bait and lures for catching Muskie depending on the location and conditions. Minnow bait, Jerkbaits, Bucktails, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits are just some of the lures specifically designed to catch Muskie. While a Muskie will hit a small or large lure, the size of the lure should be geared toward the water conditions. In open water where there are fewer weeds, trolling with bigger lures work great. Some of the more popular big lures are Ziggy Lures, Swim Wizzes, and Willy Lures. However, if you are dealing with weedier areas, your best bet is smaller lures. Floating Rapalas or Thundersticks are known to work well in weeded areas. As for casting into weeds, many crankbaits or even large spinner baits are effective choices.
If you are looking for trophy Muskie, you may want to fish in late fall when these predators are fattening up before the winter. This time of year is trophy time as the muskies go on a freezing frenzy but it is a short feeding season and the Muskie are moving a lot slower during the fall.
Summer time brings the height of Muskie action as they move faster and further for a meal. These are exciting times for sports fishermen who have to be fit, alert and ready to take on the fighting Muskie. Just as challenging, is finding Muskie during the summer as they can be just about anywhere. They can be found in shallows, open water, or suspended somewhere between the deep and the surface.
Finding Muskie in spring is a lot easier than summer since their habits can be quite predictable. Look for them where the water is shallow, warm and where the baitfish is. They love shallow protected areas such as points or islands next to deep water access. Muskies spawn when the temperature reaches 50 to 60 degrees and feed heavily before and after the spawn. As far as weather patterns is concerned, Muskie seem to like consistency, whether it is rain, wind, cold or sunny, they are fine with it.
Tips and tricks
- Bring along a good quality net which will help you draw the Muskie closer to your boat. Avoid pulling the Muskie onboard.
- When trolling for Muskie, faster speeds are the key to success. While it is accepted among anglers that big Muskie attack faster moving baits between 4 to 10 miles an hour, trolling at lower speeds will help you catch all sizes of Muskie.
- Be prepared. When fishing for Muskie you have to expect the unexpected. Ensure you take the right tools with you including a pair of fish handling gloves, a jaw spreader and hook removal tools.
- Know the rules and regulations relating to catching Muskie in the area you plan to visit.
- In unclear water, use the "8" technique at the end of your retrieve.
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