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


Dave’s muskie tacklebox has shrunk considerably over the years, and he now recommends sticking with just the standards. For him, that means trolling minnowbaits at around five miles an hour and shad-style lures at just under four. With minnowbaits, he trolls Musky Mania Jakes in 10 to 15 feet of water, and Bucher Depth Raiders (above, top) in the 15- to 20-foot range. He also pulls Drifter Tackle Believers (above, lower), which sport two eyelets so you can make them run shallow or deep. As for shad-style lures, Dave says they imitate a more diverse spectrum of prey species than minnowbaits. His go-to choices are Rapala Super Shad Raps and large Slammer Tackle Shads.

According to Dave, putting significant emphasis on lure colour is a low-percentage game, saying he’s never had one colour significantly out-produce another. While he generally goes with natural colours, he’s landed many muskies with fire-tiger patterns, for example. Whatever lure you choose, Dave advises, the key is to match the trolling speed to the lure, and to always know at what depth it’s running (keeping in mind that the depth is also influenced by the fishing-line diameter and boat speed).

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