Musky, also called the Muskellunge, is an apex predator and feared by all other fish in the lake. They have a ferocious appetite and a competitive attitude, which makes them a fun fish to catch. Having the reputation of being a big tough fish means there is also a lot of folklore surrounding them. You may have heard that you have to troll really fast and use really big lures to catch them. This is not always true.
Musky hunters find success trolling faster than they would for Walleye but there is a limit. A good Walleye speed is around 1.5-miles per hour. Many people fishing for Musky will troll as fast as 10-miles per hour but the prime speed is between 4 and 6-miles per hour. You will catch Musky trolling really fast and generally the really big Musky hit the faster baits but trolling at a slower speed enables you to catch Musky of all sizes.
Size of Lures: Traditional folklore also tells people new to Musky fishing that you have to use really big lures. The truth is Musky will hit any size lure. Tons of big Musky get caught on little jigs used by people who are Walleye fishing. People trolling with both small, medium and big lures catch Musky. The size of the lure should be based on the amount of weeds in the area or the depth you want to fish at. Lower Manitou is a clear lake and not choked with weeds so you can use bigger lures if you want. At the same time, being a clear lake, smaller lures have higher visibility thus you do not have to use big lures. The choice is up to you as it really does not matter. Musky on Lower Manitou are hungry and hit everything.
With open water, try trolling with bigger lures. The most popular big trolling lures for Musky are Willy Lures, Ziggy Lures, Swim Wizzes, large spinner baits or long shallow-running Rapalas. Perch-color and Fire-Tiger are good during the day and red seems to be good in the evening. There are many different colors and some fisherpersons find unique color combinations that work well. In a lake with a high Smallmouth Bass population like Lower Manitou, try using brown or green colored lures.
When in weeds it’s better to use smaller lures. 5 or 6-inch Original Floating Rapalas (the skinny ones) or Thundersticks work well. The jointed J-11 Rapalas are also an excellent lure and seem to catch Musky of any size. Spinner baits can be very affective as well.
If you have two or three people trolling in the boat, try having everyone troll with the same lure and at the same distance from the boat. This creates the look of a school of fish, which is very attractive to a Musky.
If you want to cast into patches of Water Cabbage or between lines of thick weeds, various kinds of crank-baits work well. Suick’s and Believers are very popular. Large spinner-baits are also very effective.
Weather: Sunny hot days or windy cold days with rain; it does not seem to matter. Many fish start their feeding cycles when atmospheric pressure changes. The Musky seem to like it when the pressure and weather stay consistent, no matter how nice or miserable it is on the lake.
Steel Leaders & Line:
You must use steel leaders at all times. It’s best to use black leaders as sometimes a Musky will see a silver shine ahead of the lure and hit the top of the leader and bite through the line. It does happen. The line you use should be based on the size of the fishing rod you use. In open water with a light-to-medium action rod, many people use 10 to 12-pound test line. In areas where there are thicker weeds, 12 to 15-pound test can be used. What is really getting popular is the braded line. You can get 15-pound test, which is as thin as 6-pound. If you plan on doing a lot of Musky fishing and you think your fishing line is going to see a lot of abuse, then try going to the 20-pound braded. It will last longer and stay strong.
The secret to Musky fishing is to have patience and try everything. You can fish for hours and hours and not catch anything and then start hitting them like crazy for an hour or two and then it stops dead again. Some people call Musky the fish of 10,000 casts. This may be true on some lakes but not on Lower Manitou Lake. Lower Manitou is one of the top Musky Lakes in the world. Your chances will also increase if you employ the services of one of our professional guides.