Muskie Fishing Guide: Best Muskie Fishing Tips


As anglers become better equipped, more knowledgeable, and more experienced, the idea of catching a trophy-sized fish becomes more and more appealing. One such fish that has caught the attention of many anglers is the muskellunge or the muskie, not only because of its sheer size (some reaching 50 inches in length or more) but also because of its reputation of being a challenging and difficult fish to catch. Fortunately in this era though, there are plenty of lakes in the country that are brimming with populations of this fish, making muskie fishing nowadays much easier than it was in the past. If you’re looking for some muskie fishing tips to help you land one of the largest and most elusive fish known to anglers, we have 10 of them right here for you.

1. Fishing for Muskies in the Summer

Summer is considered to be one of the best times to go muskie fishing. However, you’ll want to avoid going during midday since the water can be too hot for the muskie to be swimming around and feeding. Besides, there are more boaters and swimmers during these hours, and all the disturbance going on will only make it harder for you to find (let alone catch) muskies.

That said, the best time to go fishing for muskies in the summer is during the early mornings or early evenings. During these times, the water is most conducive for muskies to go hunting, and there are no or fewer people around to disturb the water and your fishing trip. Just don’t forget to bring a bottle of insect repellent and a fishing headlamp when you head out to the water.

2. Fishing for Muskies in the Fall

Many anglers prefer fishing for muskies during the fall because this is when they can land those fat and heavy muskies. One reason for this is that as the weather gets colder, the muskies’ metabolism continues to slow down, in which case their bodies start storing fat for the winter.

When fishing for muskies in the fall, you’ll want to move towards shallower water, preferably along weed flats or edges since they’ll want to hold in warmer waters (shallow waters being faster to warm up than deeper waters). You can also visit steep drop-offs and open water that is holding large masses of baitfish.

3. Fishing for Muskies during Ice-out Season

Once the sun comes out and the ice starts to melt, it’s time to bring out your fishing gear and start hunting for that elusive muskie. During ice-out season, the surface water temperature goes a little above freezing though the water below it is actually sometimes warmer. However, the water still isn’t quite warm enough for the muskies to swim up onto the shallow flats. That said, you’ll want to fish the drop-offs and open water adjacent to musky spawning sites since muskies are usually staged near their spawning places once the water gets warm enough. Again, you’ll want to choose fishing spots where large schools of baitfish are concentrated since muskies will be aggressively hunting for food after winter.

4. Muskie Fishing During Pre-Spawn Periods

Muskies tend to move towards the warmer and shallower parts of the water during this season, away from the colder water temperature in the drop-offs and deep open water. That said, you’ll want to visit shallow sand flats or weed flats. Also, female muskies are bound to be swimming about during this season as they aggressively look for food to supply their bodies with enough nutrients and energy for the eggs that they will soon be releasing.

5. Muskie Fishing During Spawning Periods


Some anglers consider spawning periods to be one of the more difficult times to fish for muskies. In fact, most would consider muskie fishing during spawning periods to be pointless. However, there is still a chance of landing a monster muskie during these times. Given the larger and healthier population of muskies available nowadays, it is very likely that there are still muskies that haven’t spawned yet and are still actively feeding. Also, there are plenty of variables that can affect the muskie’s spawning activities like the weather, water temperature, and the individual biological predispositions of the muskie, so it is safe to assume that no two pairs of muskies spawn at the same moment.

6. Muskie Fishing During Post-spawn Periods

During the post-spawn periods, both male and female muskies will be very lethargic as they allow their bodies to recuperate (though this is more common among female than male muskies). However, once they have fully recovered from this post-spawn lull you can expect to have a grand time fishing as muskies actively start hunting and feeding once again. That said, you’ll want to wait a few weeks after their post-spawn periods before you head out to the water. To further increase your chances of finding them, start using your fish finder to find large schools of baitfish since that is where these hungry and voracious muskies are most likely to be.

7. Use the Right Fishing Rod

There are several things you need to consider when it comes to choosing a rod for muskie fishing. Remember, these fish are huge and heavy, and you’ll want a fishing rod strong enough to match. You don’t want to see your rod bend and snap, leaving you with broken equipment and dreams. That said, here are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing a muskie fishing rod.

  • Rod Power. Rod power is also considered as the lifting power, and when it comes to catching large fish species like muskies, you’ll want to make sure that your fishing rod has at least enough strength for the job. That said, you’ll want to use a medium-heavy rod at the very least. This should have a strong enough backbone for the battle and can carry a higher line test.
  • Rod Length. Most muskie fishermen will use fishing rods between 7.5-9 feet in length. However, you’ll want to choose a rod that leans towards the higher end of the spectrum to supply you with plenty of length and strength for casting the large lures.
  • Rod Action. For muskie fishing, experts generally recommend using a fishing rod with ‘fast’ action. This should suffice when it comes to setting a hook in the muskies’ lip and fighting the humongous monster into your fishing net.
  • Choose a fishing rod that is made from high-quality materials and by reputable manufacturers. Remember, you’re dealing with a monster fish and you don’t want your equipment crumbling in your hands when the fish starts to bite.

8. Use the Right Reel

There are quite a few things to consider when it comes to buying a reel for muskie fishing. Remember, not all reels are created equal, and your choice could spell the difference between landing a musky and having it swim away. Knowledgeable and experienced muskie anglers know that to land a huge and aggressive fish, you need to use a strong reel. That said, you’ll want to be using a baitcasting reel as these reels can withstand even the toughest fights. You may land muskies using other types of fishing reels, but why make it harder on yourself when you know that there’s a better tool available? Besides, using the wrong tool for the job will more often lead to frustration, anger, and heartbreak.

Although most baitcasting reels are very similar in many aspects, they tend to have minor differences worth noting. That said, here are some of the more crucial elements that you need to consider when it comes to choosing a reel for muskie fishing.

  • When it comes to muskie fishing, your reel is one of those rig components that will be taking a lot of abuse. Remember, muskies are large and tough, and fighting one of these monsters can really take its toll on your fishing gear. Thus, you’ll need a reel that can handle the rigors of landing them. You want a strong and tough fishing reel that can withstand the force of a battle with that trophy muskie that bit your bait.
  • Gear Ratio. Gear ratios vary widely, but when it comes to muskie fishing, a gear ratio between 5:1 and 5.7:1 range is considered ideal. Muskies are relatively large fish that packs a lot of power, and being able to drag them in with precision and strength is more important than trying to retrieve them quickly.
  • Line Capacity. The amount of line that you’re able to put in your reel is another important consideration. Once a trophy-sized muskie takes your bait and decides to take off, it could easily run out of your line and snap or fray it. Now that is one of the worst ways to lose a fish. That said, you want to make sure your fishing reel can load up at least 140 yards of 80 lb. test line for optimal fishing.

9. Use the Right Line

You can have the most expensive rod and reel combination for muskie fishing, but if you use an inferior fishing line then you’re headed for a huge heartbreak. Fortunately, fishing lines have evolved over the years and anglers nowadays have a plethora of high-quality lines to choose from. But which among these makes for the best option? Below we outline some of the considerations to be taken when choosing a line for muskie fishing.

  • Line Weight. Muskies are one of the larger fish species, which means that you’ll need a line weight that can handle the power of large fish pulling and stressing it. Experts generally suggest that you use around 80 lb. line when going after muskies. This should be enough to ensure your line is strong enough to handle even the largest musky. It’s also necessary to use heavier lines for the monstrous lures you’ll use for catching muskies. Although there are anglers who can get away with using a 65 lb. test line, it is a consensus among many anglers that anything under 80 lb. can break with a hard enough cast.
  • Higher PIC Count. PIC count (Per Inch Crosses) is another important factor to consider when choosing a line for muskie fishing. These lines tend to last longer, have better sensitivity, and perform much better when casting. Because these lines take longer to produce, they are often more pricey but considering all the benefits that they bring, they certainly are worth the investment. Also, some manufacturers do not list the PIC count on their products so you may have to do some research online first.
  • Line Diameter. When fishing for muskies, experts recommend using lines that have larger diameters. Because braided lines lack enough stretch, they are more prone to nicks from a tooth, hook, gill, or even the net. The greater line diameter should help minimize these issues and make sure that your line doesn’t break in the middle of a battle.

There are several other factors that you’ll want to consider when it comes to choosing a line for muskie fishing. You want a line that won’t bury in the reel spool, won’t snap on a backlash and can be cast confidently into the wind when necessary. By the way, castability is extremely important when muskie fishing. Unlike fishing for bass where accuracy is the name of the game, casting distance is often more important for musky fishing.

10. Use the Right Lures

Choosing a lure for muskie fishing isn’t as simple as running to your local tackle shop and grabbing the first thing you see on the shelf. You simply cannot expect to land a trophy-sized muskie (or any other fish) this way. You need to learn how to identify what types of lures can give you the best chance of landing your dream muskie. Muskies are difficult enough to catch in themselves, so why would make it harder on yourself by using the wrong lure?

There are many things that you should consider when choosing a lure to use in catching muskies. Let’s go over some of them below.

  • Lure Weight. One of the things that separate muskie fishing from other freshwater fishing is the size of the lures you’ll be casting. When it comes to muskie fishing, you need monstrous lures than you would when fishing for bluegills or even trout. This is why it has been suggested early on that you’ll need a longer and stronger fishing rod since it needs to be capable of casting a large 8-ounce lure without snapping from the force. Casting such a large item can easily wreck a rod that’s not rated for lures of such sizes.
  • Lure Size. As mentioned earlier, you’ll be using lures that are heavier than usual. Obviously, these lures will be bigger and longer as well. Muskies are large predators that can feed on fish up to 75% of their body length and will not waste time catching small fry, and if you head out into the water with a minuscule lure on the end of your line, you’re probably going home in disappointment.
  • Water Condition. Muskies thrive in various water conditions, and you’ll want to make sure that you choose the right lure to match the water condition in your chosen fishing spot. For instance, if you’re fishing in murky waters, you’ll want a nice, bright lure to attract the muskies’ attention. You can use a flashy metallic lure that can catch at least a partial glint when the sun creeps through the water. On the other hand, if you’re fishing in clearer waters, a lure that has a more earthy tone that matches the local wildlife the musky prey on is a better option. Opt for lures that have nice green, orange, or tan colors.
  • Lure Depth. Many muskie anglers use either topwater lures or deep divers. When the weather is hot, muskies tend to swim to the deeper portions of the water to cool themselves. Thus, you’ll want to use deep divers on these occasions. On the other hand, when the weather is cool, muskies tend to hold in shallower parts of the water where the warmth of the sun can only heat the water’s surface. For this particular scenario, you’ll want to make use of your topwater lures.

Fortunately, there are several types of lures available to muskie anglers, and you can experiment with different lures to see which works best for you. You will find that some lures will work better in certain conditions while others don’t. Just be patient and keep trying until you find one that works.

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Seeing a muskie can be an exciting experience, given their sheer size and their reputation of being hard to catch. Before the practice of stocking lakes with muskies have been in effect, the muskellunge has been called the fish of ‘ten thousand casts’. This is why catching a muskie has only been a dream for many anglers before, and not many anglers will put in so much time and effort in muskie fishing. Thankfully, we now have an explosion of muskie population, muskie fishing tips, and better fishing gear that can help you land humongous muskies without too much effort and heartbreak.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!