Early Season Musky Tips For Bucktails
By Craig Sandell©2017

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 inches.

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 construction.

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 sturdy rod 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 few hang ups.

Tight Lines