Muskellunge are one of the biggest, most challenging freshwater fish in North America. Trophies measure over 50 inches and weigh more than 50 pounds.
A mouth full of teeth and a body full of muscle make muskie an intimidating adversary on any tackle, and a special thrill on fly fishing gear.
Don’t expect to catch a ‘ski on every trip. It can take 100 casts for one bite.
The fish will often follow a fly all the way to the kayak without taking the bait.
On the hook, the huge fish will leap, charge and dive. Get a jump on spring muskie with top fly fishing tactics from Jackson Kayak pro Brian Cadoret.
Where, When And What
Rod: Thomas and Thomas 9’4” 10 wt. Exocett Predator Fly Rod.
Reel: 3-Tand, Large Arbor VIKN V-130.
Fly Line: RIO, Pike/Muskie in 10wt with a built in sink tip.
Leader: Two-feet of 50-pound mono joined with a barrel swivel to nine inches of 35-pound wire.
Flies: Nine- to 15-inch, articulating with two single hooks. Key colors are perch, ink and white, black and purple, orange and olive or all black.
Lake Champlain tributaries, St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River.
Season: May through November. Best in June. Expect the biggest fish in November when muskie are feeding heavily. Don’t target muskie in water temperatures over 74 degrees, the stress can kill the fish.
Plan: Expect long floats covering four to eight miles of river. The more water you cover the better your chance of finding a trophy muskie.
Fish Finder: Log jams and downed trees along the bank, deep corners, rock piles, rocky points, ditches or confluences, drop offs and weed bed edges. Anywhere a big predator can ambush its prey.
Make a long cast. As the fly nears the kayak, keep the tip of the rod in the water. When the fly is a few feet from the rod tip, drag the fly in a figure-8, muskie often follow the lure all the way to the boat.
Muskie have a bone-hard mouth. Sharpen hooks often. Handle muskie with care. Play the fish quickly, keep it in the net while removing the fly. Wet your hands before touching a fish. Hop out of the kayak along the bank to take a quick photo. Don’t use a lip gripper on pike or muskie, the tool can damage the fish.