Captain Ahab

School me on early season muskie

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I have a goal to break my muskie cherry this year.  Been fishing now 40 years plus and still never "lucked" into a ski. 

 

Granted I mostly bass fish and a large percentage of that is small ponds (which I still love to do).

 

I have several lakes nearby here in NEPA that have good populations of Muskie.  Beltsville, Leaser, Tuscarora and the upper Lehigh and Schuylkill rivers.  

 

Plan to start early season pre-spawn and catch a few at least.  I have lots of appropriate lures (many Striper cross overs like the lil Doc) but am always building the collection lol.

 

I have a boat

 

What do you do just after ice out?

Edited by Captain Ahab

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Just after ice out muskies will still be in deeper water but higher in the water column. You will need your fish finder to locate the bait they feed on and fish lures at the depth they are at. Use lures that resemble the baitfish that are found in the lake you are fishing. Sinking plugs that are at least 12” are a good start. Count them down to the depth you are marking baitfish. Stay out of the shallows. The big ones will not be there. You need to focus on the deeper holes. That is the most important thing to remember. 

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2 mins ago, Flip n Dip said:

Just after ice out muskies will still be in deeper water but higher in the water column. You will need your fish finder to locate the bait they feed on and fish lures at the depth they are at. Use lures that resemble the baitfish that are found in the lake you are fishing. Sinking plugs that are at least 12” are a good start. Count them down to the depth you are marking baitfish. Stay out of the shallows. The big ones will not be there. You need to focus on the deeper holes. That is the most important thing to remember. 

When do they move up to shallow bays, flats etc. 

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2 mins ago, NewAtIt said:

When do they move up to shallow bays, flats etc. 

Our local muskie lake has a lot of muddy,shallow bays that warm earlier than the lake.Look for an embayment or cove off the main lake that catches the prevailing wind as it blows warm water that collects in the bay and you'll usually find water a few degrees warmer than the main lake.Shad and rough fish school up in there so we fish brown,orange and yellow colors as well as pearl/white.

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5 mins ago, NewAtIt said:

When do they move up to shallow bays, flats etc. 

Your best chance of catching muskies shallow is the month of May. I would even say that May is your very best opportunity to catch a Muskie. If I only had one month to fish for them that’s the month I would choose.

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10 mins ago, Flip n Dip said:

Just after ice out muskies will still be in deeper water but higher in the water column. You will need your fish finder to locate the bait they feed on and fish lures at the depth they are at. Use lures that resemble the baitfish that are found in the lake you are fishing. Sinking plugs that are at least 12” are a good start. Count them down to the depth you are marking baitfish. Stay out of the shallows. The big ones will not be there. You need to focus on the deeper holes. That is the most important thing to remember. 

Thanks.  Will start with that.  I am sure in at least one lake they feast on stocked trout.  

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48 mins ago, Captain Ahab said:

Thanks.  Will start with that.  I am sure in at least one lake they feast on stocked trout.  

 

Following the location of the stocked trout is a good way to catch any big game fish, sounds like a good plan.

 

I am limited in terms of locations I fish due to not having a boat, but I have found that if there are big walleye around musky are not to far behind as musky love chowing down on walleye.

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2 hours ago, Captain Ahab said:

Thanks.  Will start with that.  I am sure in at least one lake they feast on stocked trout.  

If trout inhabit the lake you are fishing, they will always be the meal of choice for large predatory game fish.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Thanks for the info flip n dip!

 

I did read about the muskie suspending over deeper water outside the spawn areas.

 

I expect to be starting the hunt with colder water present sub 50 degree.  I assume I need to slow down my presentation?  Was gonna use sub walkers and magic swimmers etc.  

Edited by Captain Ahab

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4 hours ago, Captain Ahab said:

Thanks for the info flip n dip!

 

I did read about the muskie suspending over deeper water outside the spawn areas.

 

I expect to be starting the hunt with colder water present sub 50 degree.  I assume I need to slow down my presentation?  Was gonna use sub walkers and magic swimmers etc.  

whichever lure you decide to use work it slow. If you use a plug work it the same way you would a jerk bait for cold water bass. Try different retrieves. Sometimes it takes a really long pause between twitches to get them interested. You have to experiment. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch one. It ain’t easy. If it was easy I would have no interest in it. When you do get that big one it makes all those skunk trips worth it! Even to just have a giant one follow the lure to the boat and turn away is more exciting than catching a bass IMO.

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I'll use mostly live bait until March then i will switch to trolling small plugs. Rapala XR-10s are one of my favorite. Ill also troll a large Rapala super shadrap-14.  We are still fishing for them now, river temp around me is around 39 degrees. We got 2 this past weekend on live bait a fat 36" and a really fat 42". 

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