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 go-to rig is a medium-heavy, seven-foot baitcasting rod with a reliable, matching reel. He keeps his drag tight at all times, as large muskies have heavy, bony mouths and you need to hit them hard when they strike. He runs 20-pound monofilament as his main line, with a two- to three-foot 100-pound fluorocarbon leader, having discovered that these big fish will shy away from wire leaders.

Also make sure you have a big enough net. Dave once hooked the queen of the lake one night after dark, estimating it was more than 55 inches long and weighed at least 45 pounds. He couldn’t fit the fish in his net, and eventually lost it at the side of the boat. A lesson learned.

A wire cutter (above) is another indispensable item in Dave’s boat. Rather than risk harming muskies that are deeply hooked, he clips off any offending hooks and releases the fish with minimal damage.

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