New Beginnings

The onset of spring means one thing: new beginnings. And with a new muskie season upon us, it’s time to make this the best ever. The winter has likely forced you to do a lot of thinking, planning, and even tweaking equipment. I bet you have a pile of new baits you can’t wait to test, and if your lucky you might even have a new rod or reel, and even better, a new boat. But as you gear up for your first trip of the year, don’t lose sight of the things you need to succeed.

There are three elements to locating early-season muskies: warm water, shallow cover and an abundance of baitfish. Spring is a time to study weather trends, including wind direction and using your surface temperature gauge to find “relatively” warmer water before fishing. This is when a little extra time motoring around with scouting can have a big impact. If you happen to find a spot that is exactly what you’re looking for but the water temperature is cooler than other areas, go ahead and fish it, but don’t rule it out if it doesn’t produce right away. One thing about spring is the solar heat produced can warm the water temperature. A slight increase in temperatures at the surface in the same spot you were at earlier by late afternoon can activate muskies. Make an extra effort to hit a few spots several different times during the day.

Another spring strategy is not moving through a spot too fast. You can fish fast-moving lures, but try and make more casts to an area. April, unlike any other time, often requires a few extra casts on each spot to coax a muskie to bite. One thing that’s constant now is if you have one follow or catch from one muskie in a spot, it’s more than likely there are multiple fish in that area, so don’t be afraid to really beat up that one spot and increase the chances of catching a few more.

Any available shallow cover can hold muskies, and I’ve caught this species from seemingly dead vegetation, timber, boulders, marinas and docks or even under houseboats. If it provides shade or cover, it could hold fish. While approaching these spots and driving between them, pay close attention to any large concentration of baitfish, particularly if fishing a southern reservoir. A big pile of shad in the top 15 feet of water is worth making a few casts or a couple trolling passes, regardless if there’s cover nearby. If you have both baitfish and cover, that’s a bonus, but schools of the baitfish suspended high in a water column are often a sign that muskies are nearby as well.

Another great thing about the early season is there are many options; rivers, lakes and reservoirs can all be good. It’s just a matter of timing and understanding where to find the muskies. The April issue is packed with information that can help you right now, regardless of where or how you fish for muskies in the spring and other species and how to catch them before the water gets too warm.

As you prepare to hit the water this season, approach with confidence knowing that if you’re a regular MidWest Outdoors magazine reader you’re most likely a step ahead of everyone else and on your way to the best season ever.