Real early spring musky fishing will generally be slow until
the fish have spawned and some warmer weather hits. However,
when the fish finally do become active, the best approach seems
to be smaller lures including smaller bucktails. When I say
small, I am generally referring to lure lengths of fewer than 5
A small lightweight spinner is very appealing to a musky’s
light appetite in this early season. Many spring Muskies have
been taken on small bucktails. Their smallness makes them an
easy lure to work all day long, plus they really hook fish well,
and yes they do indeed take some big fish.
One of the biggest drawbacks to fishing small bucktails
for Muskies is their lack of weight and strength in
I do not recommend attempting to tackle spring Muskies with
light action gear. Unless you are a very accomplished angler,
the odds are just not in your favor. Being able to utilize a
standard musky outfit with the smaller bucktail is to your
advantage for hook setting, fighting the fish, and just plain
keeping him on your line.
A smart choice in tackle would include 50 or 80
pound TufLine, and a solid wire leader gauge of .029 which is
greater than 80 pound test. Make certain, however, that the
leader is equipped with a top quality snap and swivel
(Don't try to get by on the cheap).
Top areas to fish for spring Muskies would include
warm shallow mud bays with plenty of backwater areas. These
backwater areas are used by the musky for spawning. Any adjacent
points, bars, weed patches, or weed beds, and wooded areas could
also be feeding hotspots. Sometimes a shallow rock bar near the
spawning area will hold a real nice Musky early in the year. Big
female Muskies will quickly vacate the shallows after spawning
and take up temporary residence on such adjacent spots.
Very often, these fish fall victim to the spring walleye
angler using a small jig and minnow combination…Most of the time
these monsters just simply bite off or break the line. But once
in a while they’re hooked in the lip and tangle with a good
fisherman who eventually wins and lands a 30 pound class Musky.
These areas are better fished with
small musky lures like bucktails worked close to the bottom
with a relatively slow retrieve (you may want to use a reel
with a slower retrieve ratio). Fast retrieves and high riding
lures are not nearly as productive in the spring. The best retrieve for
spring Muskies is slow and deep. By deep, I mean working the
lure deep enough to stay just above cover or the actual bottom.
If the water is stained, you would do best by bumping the low cover as
much as possible.
There will be other situations when fishing spring Muskies
where you will be faced with working your lure through emergent
shallow cover like exposed brush and timber, lily pads, and
reeds or bulrushes. In this case a treble hook lure may not be
the best choice even if you are using a weedless treble
configuration. Treble hooks will not work well through this type of cover. A better
lure choice for this type of fishing would be a single hook spinnerbait.
A larger, heavy duty model bass spinnerbait with either tandem
blades or a large single blade would be a good choice with a weight
of at least ¾ ounce. Single hook spinnerbaits have an up riding
hook and a semi-protective overhead wire arm that also helps to
prevent fouling of the lure (some have stinger hooks which
you may want to remove). Spinnerbaits are tailor
made for this type of cover. You can pitch them using a short
engaging the retrieve just as the bait hits the water...this
will also help to keep the spinnerbait from fouling. They can be cast into
and worked right through all types of emergent cover with very