Also known as muskellunge, the musky is a large, fierce freshwater fish popular with sports fishermen for its fantastic fight. Sometimes referred to as "the fish of 10,000 casts," muskie can be quite a challenge to hook and an even bigger challenge to reel in. Because they are hunted as a challenge, fishermen often catch, photograph and release muskie to leave them for other sportsmen to hunt.
Because muskie are fast, aggressive predators, many fishermen believe that you have to troll quite quickly to get their attention. This is not true, according to Indian Point Camp. Troll for muskie between 4 and 6 miles per hour, a faster speed than you would use for walleye, but hardly a speedboat clip. Also, don't be limited by the superstition that muskie will only go for big lures. Muskie will bite at a variety of lures, so choose your lure based on the water conditions. In open waters, use a bigger lure to attract bigger fish. In water with a lot of submerged aquatic plant life, use a smaller lure that will be easier to bring in.
Many fish seem to feed most during sharp swings in atmospheric pressure, but muskie are different. According to Indian Point Camp, muskie feed best during patches of consistent weather. Whether the day is cold and rainy or warm, sunny and still, the muskie will feed as long as the weather stays consistent. Don't bother to tough out the gales--it won't help you catch any.
Finding the right location is crucial to catching muskie. Speaking to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, champion muskie fisherman and fishing writer Jim Saric advised readers to choose "larger, flatter areas, such as sandy points or bars that drop off and create food shelves, or structured areas such as the saddle area between islands, sunken islands, or weed beds, that provide cover" for bait fish such as walleye, shad and suckers. Fish from the shore into weed beds or take a boat with a fish finder to promising spots, looking for action. If you see underwater schools of fish, stay long enough to try a few casts, then move on. Saric recommends choosing 5 or 6 different spots and revisiting them several times during an afternoon.
Muskie respond to a variety of different baits, so vary your tactics if you don't succeed. Jim Saric recommends trolling with a crankbait and casting with topwater baits, minnow baits, bucktail spinners and jerkbaits. Use black in clear water and bright colors for higher visibility in murky water. Indian Point Camp recommends using a black steel leader. The steel will give you the strength to hold a muskie and the black will help prevent the muskie from being attracted to the leader and biting through the line instead of snagging the bait.