The Shallow Muskie Migration


September is a transition month for much of the Midwest. Water temperatures are on the decline, the trees are beginning to turn color, the days are shorter, and, of course, the days are generally cooler. All of these factors combine to change the underwater environment. These signals also put muskies in a transition. Commonly, you’ll find more muskies moving from open water toward cover. This is why you’ll find more muskies on weed edges in early September. Although the outside weed edge will hold the majority of muskies, in some waters you’ll find them moving to the inside weed edge. This shallow sand pattern can be awesome as the water first begins to cool. Inevitably, as the month progresses and temperatures continue to cool, you’ll see more muskies using the flats and holding tight inside thick weed cover.


Toothies in the timber


A similar movement occurs in waters with timber. You’ll notice more muskies moving toward timber edges in reservoirs with large shad populations. As the water cools, you’ll actually get schools of shad moving to the backs of the cover. Waters with lots of rocks will see more muskies holding on top of rock humps.


The point of this is to understand that this transition month can result in muskies being on the move during September. One weekend, you could be catching muskies along the weed edge (inside or outside). The next weekend, the bulk of the fish may be tucked into the weeds on the flat more than a cast length from the edge. Fishing memories can result in many fishless hours or days. The thought to keep in mind is that the muskies may be moving, but not necessarily too far. Overall, it’s just a movement toward the shallow cover.


On most days, I’ll start on the outside edge and, if I don’t make contact with any muskies within a few hours, I’ll move shallower onto the flats. It’s important not to waste too much time on the shorter days fishing one specific area. Leave yourself enough time to fish several weed flats or even a few inside edge areas if the outside edge is dead.


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Angling arsenal of choice


In order to stay on top of the muskies, you must have an arsenal designed to fish the edges as well as the flats. I’ll usually have more lures in my boat at this time of year than any other. When focusing on the edge, Depthraiders, Bulldawgs get the nod. When fishing the shallow flats, Phantom gliders, Cowgirls and spinnerbaits become a better tool. Of course, don’t forget to fish Topraiders. September is some of the best topwater fishing across the entire musky range. When the water temperatures are between 65 and 58, you can count on an excellent topwater bite.


Along those same lines for productive lures, the one thought that comes to mind is to slow down the lure speed. Sure, there are days when burning a Cowgirl is productive. But, in many situations, slowing down to a medium speed is most productive. If a cold front rolls through, I’ll use lots of extended pauses with my Phantoms and Bulldawgs. If there is a warming spell, and the fish seem to be following, I’ll crank up the retrieve speed slightly to try and trigger a strike.


September can be extremely frustrating. Frequent fall fronts pass through that have huge impacts on the fishing. However, often, it’s just a simple matter of getting into the shallow cover, slowing down and rooting out the fish. Yet, muskies are never predictable. That’s why you always have to keep an open mind and be willing to switch locations as well as lures. Use your memories from your last trip as a starting point. But remember, September is a transition month and the muskies may have moved shallower. Just make sure you move with them.    MWO


Get the line on more muskies


If you want to learn even more about muskie fishing, be sure to check out “Musky Hunter” magazine or Also, watch “The Musky Hunter” television show—pure muskie fishing from the comfort of your own home at