Picking the Right Muskie Vacation

As a full-time charter captain, after speaking with hundreds of clients about their muskie fishing trips, it's become apparent there's a lack of good, credible information about summer vacation destinations for muskie anglers. As a result, many fishermen can spend their trip at a lake that doesn't match their preferred type of fishing. Rookies might end up on trophy water with super low numbers of muskies, or advanced anglers who want a 55-incher might head for a lake where the fish top out at 52 inches.

Throughout my years as a hardcore muskie enthusiast and guide, I've been lucky to fish nearly every muskie destination discussed below. I also have talked with most of the guides at these locations. Based on my experience, as well as information I've researched about these fisheries, my goal here is to describe each one from the perspective of a muskie fishing vacation. I highlight 10 destinations and the type of fishing they offer. I mainly address the number-of-fish versus size-of-fish question, as well as the "build" of the fish and lake conditions. There are anglers who have done much better or worse than I describe, but what I offer is my opinion of what an average muskie angler who doesn't have good knowledge of the area can expect at each location.

These numbers are what I believe are possible catches for a couple average muskie anglers. Of course, catches vary depending on whether you are new to the sport or if you have in-depth knowledge of the lake and techniques. Hiring a well-qualified guide who has intimate knowledge of these lakes helps put the odds in your favor and cuts down learning time.

Weather and conditions leading up to your trip also play a role. To play it safe, head to one of the higher numbers fisheries. If you want to roll the dice, visit one of more difficult big-fish waters. I've spent a fair amount of time on Lake Vermilion, for example, and have seen an entire tournament field fail to catch a single fish for two straight days. But I've also seen the lake give up a 49-, 51-, and 53-incher in 20 minutes between me and two clients. You never know until you hit the water.

Muskie Vacation Quick-Tips

A few things to keep in mind when taking a summer muskie vacation at many of these destinations. First, early in summer target shallower weed areas, and progress toward rock reefs and points as summer wears on and water warms. You can't go wrong packing Musky Mayhem Cowgirls and Musky Innovations Bull Dawgs. Cowgirls cover a lot of water and are efficient baits in shallow weed or rock areas. Another good option by Musky Mayhem is the new Trolling Girl. This lure is a must-have on trolling lakes such as St. Clair, and it's also a great high-speed casting bucktail. The thick blades and the lure's weight pair well with a Shimano Tranx or other high-speed reel.

For non-aggressive fish, the Shallow Bull Dawg oftentimes draws strikes. The standard-weighted Bull Dawg, especially in the Magnum and Pounder sizes, is great for casting deeper edges. If you're looking for a few lures to pick up before your trip, make sure you have these in your box.

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