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Effectively Fishing for Muskies

Effectively Fishing for Muskies

The fish of 10,000 casts

Muskies are an exceptionally elusive breed of freshwater fish. Many experienced anglers can go for days hoping to reel these evasive bad boys without even catching a single one. This is also the reason Muskies are famous as the fish of 10,000 casts. If you are looking to step up your fishing game, catching a Muskie would grant you with bonus brownie points in the fishing community. Muskies are the pinnacle of trophy fish, and a perfect option for mounting on your wall to show off your angling skills.

Muskies are generally larger than many of their aquatic counterparts. In some places, the size of a muskie you happen to catch must be at least 48 inches in order for you to keep it! You might think of this as an astronomical number, however, the real story is very different. 48 inches of length is not that huge when it comes to Muskies. If you’re patient (and lucky), you can find Muskies as long as 60 inches! This is why many anglers know the Muskie as the king of the freshwater fish.

Catching a Muskie

If you’re hoping to catch a large Muskie, you should try your luck in spring. Anglers have previously caught some of the largest Muskies in this season and the average size of Muskies caught drops in the mid-summer to late fall. However, the time of year heavily influences where you can find Muskies, as they migrate to two different areas each year, depending on the temperature of the water. As it gets colder, (around September), the Muskies begin to move toward shallow cover. If you wish to catch them, make sure that you change your location with them.

If you forget why we know Muskies as the fish of 10,000 casts, trying to catch one will thoroughly jog your memory. The art of catching a Muskie requires extreme patience from the angler. You would be lucky to catch one after a whole day of hard work. Try to keep cool and focus on the task at hand. Catching a musky is difficult, but not impossible. Luckily there are a few tips that can help you in this regard.

Try to go out fishing when the weather is consistent. It does not matter if the weather is good or bad; if the barometric pressure is steady, you are more likely to catch a Muskie. It can be considerably harder to lure a Muskie out when the weather is changing rapidly.

Traditionally, many people preferred short and thick rods. However, more and more people are leaning toward longer and lighter rods recently. When you are fishing for the fish of 10,000 casts, your arms and shoulders need a little break. Lighter rods will take some of the tension out of your arms during repeated casts.

The choice of line is extremely important as well. You want a strong and sturdy line that does not stretch. Traditionally, anglers used thick Dacron lines for this purpose. They have moved towards thinner, braided super lines that the Muskie cannot see as clearly in recent years.

If trolling is your preferred method of fishing, make sure to keep your pace steady. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to zip along the water in speed to catch Muskies. Try to maintain a speed between three to six miles per hour.

Muskies are at the top of the food chain in their environment. This means that they are not very picky about their meals and will eat almost anything when hungry. While that eases your mind about the choice of live bait you should use, the problem arises in getting the muskies to strike on your bait. With so many choices of prey, you have to make your bait super enticing for the muskie to pounce on it. This is often a two-step process; you have to make the bait move interestingly in the water (such as in figure 8s) and you have to make the bait itself delectable enough to invoke the curiosity of the muskie. There are several good options in this regard:

Best live baits for catching Muskies

Though the use of live-bait is very effective in catching Muskies, it leads to killing of many undersized Muskies if you do not take proper precautions. Using single hooks on the bait and letting Muskies ingest the bait to hook them in the gullet is a surefire way to kill any muskie. Even if you cut the leader and let the undersized fish swim away, the hook and leader material inside the fish’s stomach is sure to kill it over time. For this reason, we recommend that you fish responsibly and always use quick strike rigging on your bait.

White sucker

Perhaps the best-known live bait for catching Muskies is a white sucker. Also known as bay fish, common sucker, brook sucker, and mullet, the white sucker is a freshwater fish that is prevalent in North America. Since Muskies predominantly inhabit bodies of water in North America as well, the sucker makes for well-suited bait for these fish.  


Chubs are also a very suitable form of life bait for catching Muskies. Belonging to the same family of fish as the white sucker, the Cypriniformes, chubs are extremely similar in appearance and behavior. Trapping or breeding chubs is not a difficult matter, which makes them ideal for use as bait to capture bigger fish such as pikes or muskies.


Fallfish are a form of Cyprinidae similar to chubs and suckers. These are popular live baits in Eastern North America, as they are the biggest minnows native to the region. The Fallfish, like the other three minnows discussed above, have the status of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This minimizes the risk of overfishing and endangering these species when you use them as live bait. This is one of the reasons why these minnows are extremely popular for baiting purposes.

Yellow Perch, Golden Shiners, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass

These are all examples of a muskie’s diet. The muskies lie at the top of the food chain in their natural habitat and eat all other forms of smaller fish. Hence, you can use any of these as suitable bait to catch a muskie. However, you might have to pique the curiosity of the muskie by first distracting it with a lure and then presenting the bait as prey.

Muskies are a physically large species of fish. Consequently, to catch a muskie, you must use other large fish. This is the reason anglers use the largest minnows – suckers, chubs, and fallfish – to catch muskies. The size of the live bait depends on the size of muskie you are hoping to land. 

You can use any minnow above eight inches in length to catch a muskie. However, you would have better luck catching a forty-inch and above muskie with a minnow that is at least fourteen inches in length.