Surefire Spring Solutions


Jim Sarics early season muskie fishing secrets.

When looking at a map of the reservoir, one of the first areas to investigate is the headwaters of the reservoir where the river(s) enter the system. There might not be a resident muskie population in these rivers and creeks, but there often is a migration of some muskies upriver. Plus, the headwaters often have the warmest water, so you have a recipe for success. Fishing the headwaters can be quite visual, as you cast to timber or even shoreline cover. Subtle points and small pockets often hold muskies at this time.

Another key area where I have found early season muskies in many reservoirs is along the riprap near the dam. This is the opposite end of the reservoir, and often the water is the coldest here. Yet, for some reason, the muskies still use the riprap. It must be a predator/prey thing, as there usually are bass and walleyes also around the riprap. The muskies aren’t feeding on the bass or walleyes; they feed on the shad and/or crayfish in these areas. It is not uncommon to catch muskies along the same riprap section while someone else is catching bass. Believe me, if the muskies were actively feeding on the bass, the bass anglers wouldn’t be catching their fish at the same time.

Near the dam area is another interesting phenomenon. Often, the first major creek arm adjacent to the dam holds a good population of muskies at any time. These fish that live near the main lake in summer do not all migrate upriver to the headwaters to spawn. Instead, they will move into the first major creek arm. These creek arms can be huge areas to fish. For success, focus on the larger concentration of shad in these creek arms, the coves with the warmest water and explore the headwaters of the creek arm. Usually, such a major creek arm has a significant population of muskies that can be caught in early season.

Last, but certainly not least on the list of early season areas to explore are the marinas. Unfortunately, in some states, fishing around the marina is not legal. However, in most reservoirs you can join the bass and crappie anglers and fish in these areas. I have never fished a muskie reservoir that didn’t have at least one marina that held muskies. These marina areas offer lots of shade and other man-made cover for the shad and are usually located adjacent to deep-water areas of a cove. In fact, the marina may serve as a conduit from the deep water to the shallow water in the back of the cove. So, it certainly makes sense why these areas can be so good and hold muskies. Many boat launches are in the backs of coves, oftentimes adjacent to a marina. Make a habit of fishing your way out and around the marina to the main lake. You will seldom be disappointed.

I don’t know about you, but after a long winter and talking muskies with everyone at sport shows, I can’t wait to hit the water. The warm days of March, April and May are primetime to get a jump on your northern season. Don’t let the size of a reservoir intimidate you. You know how to catch them, just keep the location principles simple and go hunt them down.

 To learn more about fishing for the fish of a thousand casts (AKA the muskie), look for Jim Sarics full article in the March issue of MidWest Outdoors magazine, available the first full week of March on newsstands near you, or by subscribing on our website.