Ontario Musky Tips for Beginners

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Large 46 Inch Musky










What do most anglers wish for when it comes to a day out on the water fishing? Now, let’s be honest here, really. While we can’t really argue that a day of pulling 50 walleye out of a northern Ontario lake is exciting and rewarding our honest inner self really likes huge trophy sized fish. Chances are if you’ve ever fished in Ontario you’ve already experienced some of the best freshwater angling in Canada. Spending time with any group of friends while fishing the north usually brings the ‘biggest fish’ contest. And we definitely can’t blame one for that. Why wouldn’t you have such a contest? Trophy fish lurk in just about every fishable body of water and don’t kid yourself, size definitely does matter. When’s the last time your bragging rights held up for an extended period of time fishing crappie, perch or blue gill? Most anglers want to show their friends and family pictures of a big fish when they return from Ontario’s north.

Trophy opportunities for Smallmouth, Largemouth, Lake Trout, Walleye and Pike are plentiful in the thousands of Ontario lakes right across the province but when hard core anglers think of pure size and trophy one fish species comes to the forefront of one’s mind. The Musky . Often thought of as the fish of a thousand casts this moniker is probably the furthest from the truth in many Ontario lakes. So where does one find some of the more productive Muskie lakes to fish? Increasing your odds of landing a 50+ inch fish starts with a little research when planning your trip. Choosing lakes with a good ongoing history of big fish and strong gene pool are key when locating trophy Muskie. Consistency over long periods of time can help narrow down your choices. Northwestern Ontario has traditionally been Musky central producing fish in the 40 to 50 inch range year after year. While fishing many of these lakes anglers fishing for Walleye and Smallmouth Bass can hook into one of these large toothy critters by accident.  Often times these types of misadventures end up in a lost lure and broken line. Light tackle is definitely not the preferred method of succeeding when targeting Muskie either deliberate or accidental.

Large fish can sure be the most gratifying part of any outing but knowing what to look for and when to look is of great importance and plays a large role in your success. Larger lakes with high concentrations of big fish can be intimidating for the novice but you’ll quickly learn to adapt to different characteristics and areas that can hold some of these larger fish. Big bodies of water have every combination of factors important to larger prey and the Musky is definitely at the top of the food chain in many lakes. A healthy, vibrant fishery with multiple species of other fish like Walleye, Bass, Perch and baitfish are key indications of good muskie hunting grounds.

Musky Jerk Baits









How many times have you heard about or seen a Musky striking a smaller walleye or Northern Pike already hooked on an anglers line? These things happen frequently and it helps to have a keen eye on the size of the fish in the jaws of the Musky in this situation. Common knowledge dictates that larger lures generally catch larger fish. This can hold true when it comes to trophy sized muskie but at the same time don’t put those smaller lures away just yet. Every lake and water body has its own unique characteristics so just because one type of bait didn’t produce a fish at Lac Seul it doesn’t mean it won’t be effective on Little Vermillion or Wabigoon Lake. Fish are as fickle as humans and tossing large baits all day with measured success isn’t a sign that there are no fish. It’s a sign that they are looking for something else. This is where a smaller lure presentation can come in handy. Just because your Bulldawg, Rumbler, Magnums, Suick, Believers or M&G Spinner baits aren’t productive at any given moment doesn’t mean they won’t work at all. Be patient and experiment.

Northern Ontario lakes are great places to cast out large lures. Just how large should be large? Above average works for us. We’re talking Husky Jerk sizes and slightly larger in length and girth. One thing is for sure as many of us age gracefully is that over the years casting these larger lures can be physically demanding not to mention the effort required to fight a 30+ pound fish and then successfully release it. I know I’m not getting any younger and my shoulders and back sure feel it after 3 to 4 hours of casting varnished dachshunds through weed beds and deep structure trying to get an effective presentation by working the bait.  For now I stick to trolling with some of these larger monster lures. It’s easier on one’s back and is a great time to explore new areas of the lake and cover more water at the same time.

Musky Bucktail










One of the easier and yet productive lures to entice large musky is still the inline bucktail, 1 to 2 ounce variations, single and double Colorado or willow blades and a good combination of colours can put you on to some very large fish, Not to mention they cast well and won’t tear out your rotator cuff after 2-3 hours of fishing. Another trusted favorite for casting and using at various depths is the oversized spinnerbait. Bucktails once again with a good variety of blade choices and colours are a good starting point when stocking gear for a new tackle box. These lures vary in price and are generally less expensive than some of the larger body baits and you won’t have to take a second mortgage on your house to obtain enough to get you started in Musky fishing. My regular group of fishing buddies frequently use Slopmasters, M&G’s and some custom made lures by Michael Thomas of Mikey’s Tackle Box based out of Ottawa Ontario.

Muskie Bucktail Lure










Picking the right lake, location, time of year and lure still doesn’t mean you’ll land that 50 incher. Stealth plays a huge factor when marking and sight fishing musky. While this doesn’t mean you have to take a Special Forces survival course in stealth tactics you should be as quiet and invisible to the fish as possible. Boat control, wind direction, motor speed and your trolling motor can make or break a stealthy approach and anything less in most cases will send a large fish packing. Remember that noise travels even farther under water and if care isn’t taken you’ll be wasting time washing your lures. In waters where you know fish are suspended on shoals and drop offs I like to keep some distance and cast past the fish slight up current and letting the drift bring your bait into range causing a reaction strike in many cases. Sometimes when a fish gets surprised and see’s the flash of your lure the predatory nature takes over and they will smash your lure. Also, don’t be surprised if large Northern Pike find these lures and presentations appealing and boating 40+ inchers happen all the time when fishing for muskie.

Fishing for large muskies can be exhilarating yet frustrating but choosing a well known musky producing lake in the north west of Ontario can reduce the guessing and provide a fishing trip of a lifetime. Stay focused, stay patient and always be prepared. A trophy that will be talked about for generations can be just one cast away.


This article was written by the
contributing staff of OFT and its
group of amateur and pro Ontario anglers.

Copyright 2008. Ontario Fish Trips.

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