Spring Musky Fishing
Spring is a time for renewal and for early musky fishing! Because of the colder water, musky are still lethargic at this time of year and may be more difficult to find than in the summer. These are some pointers that should help you succeed in the end.
Along the lakeshore, look for areas with weed cover. Grass, wild rice, or bullrushes, new or old. Look for small frogs entering or exiting the water, as well as swirls or splashes.
Musky prefer to prey on frogs in the early spring because they are easy to catch and provide a tasty meal. During feeding, they will swim into about a foot of water and are quite easy to spot if you know what to look for.
You’ll have to get close to avoid spooking the musky. To begin, you will need an electric trolling motor and a longer rod with lighter line than you normally use for these large fish. Use the rod you used for steelhead or the rod you use for walleye.
I prefer a medium action 8 12 foot rod with a low abrasion monofilament line weighing 12 to 15 pounds. I use a spinning reel or a bait-casting reel, but it must have a good drag system. You’ll also need some large plastic frogs and lizards, as well as a 17 to 20 pound test leader.
Weedless frogs, such as the Boss Hawg, are ideal because they can be fished through dense cover without snagging, but remember to set the hook very hard on a strike. The longer, lighter rod allows you to snap the hook into the musky’s jaw without breaking the line and allows you to keep a lot of weight on the fish after the set because the rod absorbs the shock. Fighting the musky to the boat is exciting because he can jump or run, causing your adrenaline to spike!
Stay as far away from the shoreline as possible while still casting in. Cast ahead of the boat at a right angle to avoid casting shadows on the fish. (At this point, they will spook easily.) Slowly retrieve the frog or lizard towards the weeds, keeping the rod tip up to steer the frog into the weeds and directly over the fish. With a slight movement of the rod tip, you can swim the frog and make it move as much or as little as you want; either up and down or side movement will cause the frog to swim enticingly.
You want to get the rod up as soon as possible after the strike. Maintain even pressure on the fish by holding the rod tip high and allowing the arc of the rod to act as a spring. As the arc begins to shrink, increase the slack line. If the fish moves towards the boat in an attempt to spit the hook, simply raise the rod tip higher to apply more pressure. You can also direct the fish by pointing the rod in the desired direction. This will help keep stumps, the motor, and the anchor rope out of the way.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to bring the fish to the boat until it has exhausted itself sufficiently to be less likely to start jumping or running again. This is when the line is shortest and the possibility of a break-off is greatest. Remember that you’re using a longer rod now, and you’ll need to leave a little more line out as you try to land the fish.
Even if you are not permitted to keep a musky under 36 inches in length, the smaller ones will still put up a good fight and have razor sharp teeth. Allowing the big ones to go will ensure another enjoyable day on the water in the future.