The Muskie or Muskellunge is the largest and most fierce member of the pike family. They have been known as the fish of ten thousand casts due to their reputation of being extremely rare and hard to catch.
The popularity of the muskie has risen dramatically due to their size and fight when catching them.
So how can you catch the apex predator of freshwater fish? What things can you do when fishing for muskie to increase your chances?
Trolling for summer muskie just may be the tactic to help you net one of these large game fish.
Make sure the body of water you are fishing is home to muskie, not all lakes and rivers contain muskie.
Before you even start on the quest for a giant muskie, you will need to make sure you have the right setup or you will risk losing that big one.
Generally your rod should be in the 7 - 8 foot range with medium to medium/heavy action. When trolling, a baitcaster reel is essential, focus on quality here, it's the engine of your setup, the less plastic the better.
For line, braided is the front runner for all reasons. It's stronger, doesnt stretch and lasts cast after cast. You could manage with a 40lb line rating, but 60-80lb line rating is recommended as these fish are massive in size and can put a ton of pressure on the line with their fight.
As a general rule, muskie usually prefer shallow waters (10-12 meters) but can also be caught in deeper, cooler waters. Muskies are ambush predators, and will patrol vegetated areas for small baitfish and other food.
Trolling for muskie is a great tactic, as it allows you to cover the most water, while being able to try different lures and different water depths.
Many people believe that to catch a muskie you need to use very large lures. This may be the case in dark waters as it will help with visibility, but in normal or clear waters any size lure will work as muskie are extremely aggressive.
If the water is murky or darker, stick with bright color lures such as green, yellow or neon colors. For clear water just about any lure has the potential to attract a strike, but focus on lures that imitate small bait fish as much as possible.
Follow the lures depth rating and trolling speed. Remember faster speed will often drag the lure to the bottom, while slowing down will bring it to the top, although some lures work vice versa.
Focus your trolling over rocky drop-offs, submerged humps, weed beds and other healthy vegetation, and any areas with a good population of small bait fish.
If the muskies arent hitting, try altering your speed. Going faster or tolling at an up/down pattern can really attract muskies to your lure.
Make sure you have pliers and a good quality muskie net, like a fish cradle to ensure that the catch and release is not stressful on the fish. Old style nets with large mesh can easily cause irrepairable damage to the muskies fins and body. A good catch and release can keep the muskie alive and well for generations to come.