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Fishing Pike & Muskie

8 Tips For Tackling Big Muskies

by Ken Dunwoody   |  June 15th, 2011 4

Billy Rosner with a nice catch

Big muskies rarely come easily. If you’re a novice muskie angler, or if you find yourself on unfamiliar waters, you need to formulate a plan.

“First,” says veteran muskie guide Billy Rosner, “talk to folks at the local bait shop, and try to get a good lake map. Ask for advice.”

In addition, says Rosner, the following tips can dramatically improve your odds of tangling with a trophy:

1. Search for the deeper weedlines in the lake. Throw lures along the edges, and over the top, of the weedbeds. Cabbage weeds and coontails are the most likely to harbor muskies.

2. Your best chances for success will be at first light in the morning and the last light of day.

3. Overcast days, especially with a light drizzle, can put muskies into attack mode.

4. Wind can be helpful, especially if it pushes baitfish into a certain bay or area. Muskies and pike will follow.

5. If a weather front is approaching, be sure to be on the water a few hours before it ar-rives. This can be a prime time.

6. When possible, fish during times when the moon is rising or setting.

7. Cast spinnerbaits (M/G spinners, Lindy’s Buck-A-Boo); topwater lures (Bucher’s Top-Raider, Medusa Globe, Mouldy’s Hawg Wobbler); and glide baits (Suick Musky Thriller, Phantom jerkbaits). Try bright colors on bright days, dark colors on dark days.

8. Remember to set the drag on your reel very tight. Even a “small” 40-inch muskie can peel line off your spool at an alarming rate.

Billy Rosner ( chases muskies in Minnesota’s Vermilion Lake.


    I've never understood paying big money for reels with ultra smooth drags, and then screwing them down so much that they are rendered useless. We are then told to fumble around pushing free-spool buttons during the fight. Recipe for disaster. If you're not going to use your drag the way it was designed, why not go back to the old fashioned direct drive reels with no star drag at all? Much cheaper, and an awful lot of big muskies were caught using them.

  • John Flugaur

    Which is actually better a rising moon or a setting moon???

  • Harold Schussler

    Good advise, but I've caught hundreds more muskies while

    fishing for bass on four to six inch worms. But have lost

    thousands of hooks over the years. Find large baits for skis

    work best in fall.


    • Larry (Killer)

      I agree with your comments in the general sense. It took me years to put all eight of the tips mentioned in the article together, but in recent years I found I was doing these things instinctivly . Most of my knowledge was obtained by trial and error (countless $$$ in lures and terminal :) ) The one major lesson I always remember to forget is muskie are atop the food chain and not afraid to devour the smallest offering imaginable! Most of the large muskie I have put in the boat were either caught while bass fishing or fishing shallow water spring crappies! I rarely fish for any-thing else but muskies these days using similar tactics to the ones mentioned, and for me the most productive and exciting is casting 1/2 oz. bucher buzz-baits along weed-beds and stumps on overcast rising moon phase early mornings in a wind-swept cove fishing the inside of the

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