Muskie Ice Fishing
Tips and Techniques
The real secret to
catching more fish is knowledge! The more you know, the more fish you'll
catch. These Muskie ice fishing tips and techniques are proven winners.
It's time to take a closer look at one of the most sought after fish in North
America, the Muskie. What's not to like about them? They're as good to
eat as they are fun to catch. With their golden scales and their diamond like eyes,
they're even fun to look at, for a fish anyway
Muskie are naturally pretty aggressive fish which is one of the reasons
they're so fun to catch. But mid winter slows down just about every species,
including Muskie, so it's important to learn how to trigger them to bite after
the slow down.
If you want to catch more fish the two most important keys are location
and presentation. You could have the most appealing bait in the world but
if there aren't any fish around it's going to be a looong day. And, not catching
a thing while everyone else around you is catching fish can be really
frustrating. What you present to the fish is just as important
as finding them.
The information found here is best used along with some investigative work
done by you. Finding out what the Department of Natural Resources says about a
lake and talking to local anglers, especially at the bait shop, can save you a
ton of time finding the fish and knowing what they're biting on.
Muskie can be ice fished at any hour of the day or night but changing light
conditions in the morning and evening usually triggers more activity and
feeding. You'll catch more Muskie in the 90 minutes surrounding sunup and
sundown then at any other time.
Muskie Ice Fishing Location
Whether it's summer or winter, Muskie are generally found within a couple
feet of the bottom. And not just any bottom, normally Muskie hang close to some
sort of lake structure like points, breaks, rock piles and humps.
Click here to learn about fish attracting lake
structure. Structure meets a
couple of basic needs, including shelter and food.
Muskie also like fast access to deep water so check out the steep breaks
around points and bars.
During early ice Muskie can be found in the same places they were just
before ice up. Look for them in shallow water near points and shoreline bars.
Other structure, like inside turns and rock piles, are always an added bonus.
As winter progresses Muskie move out toward mid-lake humps. It's interesting
how this move resembles mid summer fishing. One reason for this move is the
water is just a bit warmer in deeper water which is more comfortable
for them and keeps them more active.
As spring nears Muskie begin moving shallower again into pre spawn areas.
Besides shoreline points and breaks, look for them near river mouths.
Before we switch gears and talk about presentation, remember locating the
fish is half the battle. Don't just drill one hole in 10 ft of water next to a
point. Instead drill several holes in varying depths and find the fish.
Using modern electronics can also help you find fish faster. Depth, fish and
structure can all
be seen using a flasher (Vexilar or Marcum).
Muskie Ice Fishing Presentation
OK, you've found the Muskie, now let's look at some
effective techniques to get them on the ice!
The most effective ice fishing presentation is jigging. Jigging is basically
raising your rod tip about a foot, then dropping it back down to its starting
position. Since Muskie are
close to the bottom, insure you're jigging within a couple feet of the bottom.
Don't be afraid to touch bottom. Often this will stir up the bottom and
attract fish. Don't overdue it though. You'll catch more fish by
keeping your lure slightly above them rather than on the bottom of the lake
Jigging attracts fish but unless they're very active, a Muskie won't take your bait/lure
until it stops. So a very effective method is to
raise and drop the tip, wait 3-10 seconds and repeat the raise/drop. Vary the
amount of time you let you jig remain still.
Another jigging technique made popular by the pro ice fisherman Dave Genz is
pounding the jig. Pounding a jig is basically jiggling your rod tip up and down
just an inch or two very quickly.
Last year my brother-in-law bought me a Buzz Stick rod/reel combo for
Christmas. You press a button and the rod tip jiggles. It's amazing how far
ice fishing has come in the past few years!!
Now that you've got the hang of jigging, lets look at the lure/bait you're
using. There are two main types of lures jigged while ice fishing for Muskies. Flash spoons
Swimming lures include the Jigging Rapala and Nils Master
Rapala Jigging Rapala
Nils Master Jigging Shad
Swimming lures are great for more aggressive Muskie. Usually I put a minnow head
on one of the treble hook barbs and start by fishing with one of these.
Northland Tackle and Lindy make lead head swimming jigs which can also be
Flash spoons, or vertical spoons, like the Swedish Pimple and Acme Kastmaster,
are a couple of my favorites. They
are easily identified by their vertical fishing position and a treble hook on the bottom.
Spoons are great for moderately active fish. Put a minnow head on one of the
hooks and you've got a dangerous combination.
In most places while ice fishing you're allowed more than one rod. I usually
set up either a tip up or a deadstick in either deeper or shallower water.
Normally that set up just has a lead head jig and a sucker minnow on it while
ice fishing for Muskie.
Hopefully you've found something new to try in these Muskie ice fishing tips
and techniques that will help you ice more fish.
What most people consider luck is usually a combination of preparation and
practice so get out there and enjoy the practice!
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