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Let's put together all the information we've gathered on the muskie to help us better target, catch, and release these great fish.

The larger adult muskie hunt in many different areas and they also rest in different areas. While the best chance for us to catch a muskie is when they are on the hunt, muskie can be caught at all times.

Where are the muskie?

Muskie are usually in different areas during different times. During spawning we know that muskies prefer the hard bottom, shallow waters that warm up faster. Feeder creeks, reservoir headwaters, and shallow shorelines are good places to find them. Muskie are looking for easy meals now and shortly after the spawn. Smaller lures are best used here as muskie are not as aggressive during the recouping stage and may not be as likely to tackle the larger lures.

After the spawn both muskie males and females tend to move out to deeper waters although the smaller males will hang around the spawning site a little longer then females. During this time, deeper waters and smaller lures are the tactic. However, don't expect muskie to be as aggressive for a few weeks. You'll need to present them the easy meals to get them to bite.

After a few weeks muskie will be back to their normal actions as we move into summer. They will be on the hunt and the normal muskie feeding windows begin to open up. In general, deeper waters and diving lures during the mid-day hours will find the muskie. Best bet is to try and locate feeder fish schools in deeper waters as a starting point. If you can locate the breaks between multiple schools of feeder fish, drop a line there and hold on - the muskie shouldn't be far away.
During the morning and evening hours when muskie are hunting, you'll find them everywhere, but many more will be present at the drop-offs, weed beds, and structure points. Many tactics can work here from deep diving crank-baits, to surface lures, to spinners and bucktails. Try them all and find a method that gets results.

Late year muskie fishing is the best opportunity we get to land these monsters. During the months of October and November, muskie are putting on weight for the coming ice over and are at their most aggressive. Slow and bigger baits are great at this time, and many muskie fishermen drop their suckers now.

Weather matters when muskie fishing:

Remember that muskie are effected like every other fish by the weather. The biggest impact comes with the cold fronts. After a cold front, insects are less active, causing feeder fish to be less active, causing muskie to be less active. Look in the thick slop weeds or out in the deep open water for feeder fish schools and try a deep diver or plastics to get to the muskie.

Other factors to remember in muskie fishing:

Choose your lakes wisely. While muskie can be found in many bodies of water across their range. You are more likely to find the trophies in the larger lakes.

Change your tactics if your lake is clear or stained. Clear lakes present fewer challenges with bait selection as sight location isn't a hurdle here. Muskie use many senses to locate their prey, and sight is one of them and therefor certainly a factor. When fishing the dirty, stained lakes during normal fishing conditions, try to fish smaller lures and get closer to structure. You'll give these muskie a better chance of finding your lure by doing this.

Use good tactics all the way through the retrieve. Remember, muskie can swim at up to 30mph when they are on the hunt so don't slow down your retrieve in an attempt to give the muskie a "chance to catchup", if they want your bait - they'll get it. Better yet, if your seeing a lot of follow-ups but getting no strikes, try speeding it up a little when you know you've got a muskie following. Mimic the actions of a fish escaping prey to the best of your ability to encourage the muskie's natural reaction to fleeing prey.

Don't forget the figure eight. It's been said that your percentage of strikes and therefore catches will rise two-fold if you complete a large figure-eight at the end of every retrieve. We don't often see a following muskie as they may be deeper or out of sight and many of us who don't practice the figure eight can easily pass by multiple opportunities by neglecting this time tested habit.