I finally caught my first muskie. Here are 9 lessons I learned

Muskie mission

How one angler finally caught the fish of 10,000 casts—and what he learned along the way


No matter the time of year you target muskies, consider where they and their prey are in their respective annual cycles—understanding how they behave will help narrow your search considerably. Dave fishes during the peak of summer, for example, after the lake has stratified and the muskies have moved well away from the shallow, weedy bays where they spawned in May and June. By midsummer, the ciscoes have also left the relatively shallow water for deeper, cooler depths, and the muskies follow them.

There’s a physiological cost for muskies that zip down 35 or 40 feet to the thermocline in pursuit of a meal. They don’t appear to regulate pressure as well as some other fish, so they move into shallower water to recover after chasing prey down deep. Dave believes that many of the followers that anglers get during the day are well-fed muskies in recovery mode—they’re curious, but generally unwilling to strike a lure.

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