Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fly Fishing For Muskie


The muskellunge is one of the largest, fastest-growing and most elusive fish that swims. The world record 69lb 11oz. muskie came from Chippewa Flowage, Wisconsin in 1949.

A muskie will eat fish and sometimes ducklings and even small muskrats. It waits in weed beds and then lunges forward, clamping its large, tooth-lined jaws onto the prey. The muskie then gulps down the stunned or dead victim head first.

Muskies are light colored and usually have dark bars running up and down their long bodies. That's the opposite of northern pike, which have light markings on a dark body. Muskies are silver, light green, or light brown. The foolproof way to tell a muskie from a northern is to count the pores on the underside of the jaw: A muskie has six or more. A northern has five or fewer.

For those not familiar with the muskie, some anglers also say they look and behave like a cross between a northern pike and a barracuda.


In the vast world of fishing, fly fishing for muskie is definitely considered out on the edge. Known for their often massive size, violent head-shaking strikes and razor-sharp canines, muskies are not for the faint of heart. This is one species you don’t want to get too close to without the proper equipment. In fact, in the old days muskie fisherman actually used to shoot their fish in the water before ever bringing them in the boat. On the other hand, if you enjoy casting big 2/0 flies all day just for a chance to see a huge fish grab your offering — often right at your feet — then this might just be the sport for you.

It’s also important to note that whatever season you fish you’ll increase your odds if you cover as many different types of structure as possible with the fly. The first fish you see or catch will tell you a lot about the pattern for that day. While some anglers have caught muskie on a fly every month of the fishing season, it’s been experience of many that spring and early fall are generally best due to the higher metabolism and aggressive nature of these fish in warmer water.

It should also go without saying that when you finally do catch your first muskie on a fly, you should release it carefully, just as you would a wild trout or steelhead. This practice along with longer minimum legal limits on many lakes and rivers has led to a pronounced increase in the quality of muskie fishing throughout the US and Canada.

Finally, though nothing can take the place of time on the water, here a few more tips that apply whenever and wherever you fish for muskie:

Cover the water: Not easy to do with a big rod and wind-resistant fly but it’s the only way to find your first fish.

Change flies: If you’re not getting any action don’t hesitate to change flies. This means going from large to small, top-water to streamer, and bright vs. dark.

Change your retrieve: If you’re not getting any strikes or follows, try picking up the speed — you can’t move the fly fast enough with a hand strip for a muskie!

Change your depth: Depending on the season and water you might find muskies in 6 inches of water or down 20 feet or more.

Always watch your fly: As noted above, muskies love to follow a fly and will often strike at the end of your retrieve (even when you’d swear there’s nothing following).

Last but not least, don't give up. Pursuing muskie is one of the more interesting and rewarding types of warm water fly fishing you can do.


A big muskie is an old muskie. Females require 14 to 17 years to reach 30 pounds. Northern pike grow even more slowly. Once taken out of the water and hung on a wall or carved into fillets, a trophy is not soon replaced by another fish of its size. So, the key to creating trophy northern pike and muskie fishing is catch-and-release angling. Unfortunately, some fish are mortally injured by improper handling and cannot be successfully released.

All northern pike and muskie are difficult to handle because of their slippery hides (slime coat), lack of good handles and sharp teeth. Big fish are particularly troublesome because of their great size and power.

Careful handling makes catch-and-release work:

• The first step to successfully releasing fish is to use artificials rather than live bait. Caught on artificials and handled carefully, nearly all fish can be returned with no permanent injury.

• The second step is to keep the fish in the water if at all possible. If you must lift a big fish from the water, support as much of its body as possible to avoid injuring its internal organs.

• Never grip a fish by the eye sockets if you intend to release it. By doing so you abrade its eyes, injure the surrounding tissue and may cause blindness.

Here are some effective methods for handling large northern pike and muskie:

Hand release: Grip the fish over the back, right behind the gills (never by the eye sockets!) and hold it without squeezing it. With the other hand, use a pliers to remove the hooks, while leaving all but the head of the; fish in the water. Sometimes hooks can be removed with the pliers only; the fish need never be touched.

Landing net: Hooks can be removed from some fish even as they remain in the net in the water. If that's not possible, lift the fish aboard and remove the hooks while the fish is held behind the head and around the tail. To better restrain large fish, stretch a piece of cloth or plastic over the fish and pin it down as if it were in a straight jacket.

Stretcher: A stretcher is made of net or porous cloth about 2 to 3 feet wide stretched between two poles. As you draw the fish into the cradle and lift, the fold of the mesh supports and restrains the fish. This method requires two anglers.

Tailer: Developed by Atlantic salmon anglers, a tailer is a handle with a loop at one end that is slipped over the fish's tail and tightened. The fish is thus securely held, though the head must be further restrained before the hooks are removed.

Here is a tip card for proper catch and release I found on the internet as well.

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Muskie Tips and Tricks - Videos



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