Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More

Musky 101: How to Fish for Musky in Virginia


Hi I am Jason Hallacher and welcome to
Musky fishing 101 the all-inclusive how-to video designed to teach you how
to have a safe and successful muskie fishing trip. Today’s video is going to cover five main topics the tools you will need, rods reels and baits, muskie
biology, specific fishing techniques and how to safely release your Msuky. All
right we got our gear most importantly we’ve got our lunch and we’re ready to
head out onto the water. This may not be the most exciting topic
of the video but it is the most important both for your safety as well
as the musky. First of all most musky fishing takes place aboard boats so be
sure to visit the DGIF boating page on our website. and of course you always
want to wear your life vest. So let’s talk about some specific tools you will need. By far the most important tool is a large net. I know they’re cumbersome to
carry but these make life so much easier when unhooking fish. With these Nets you
have plenty of room to take your time and work slowly and carefully. All while
keeping the fish wet and breathing. Musky flopping in the bottom of the boat with sharp hooks in their mouths makes for a scary situation both for you and the
fish. Second and importance you need the proper release tools hook resistant
gloves are a must. These fish are strong and can swing hooks into your hands when
you try to unhook them they also have incredibly sharp teeth and gill rakers
these gloves have saved me from being punctured on numerous occasions. It’s
also important to have long pliers hook cutters and jaw spreaders. On occasion
when these fish are deep hooked it can be hard to navigate their teeth in the
bait to remove the hooks. In these cases I find it best to cut the hooks to get
the bait out of the Muskys mouth and then remove the remainder of the hook
once you can see what you’re doing. These baits have big thick hooks so
quality hook cutters are important. You also bring a measuring tape a length
board and a camera of course so you can document in your catch. To weigh your
fish you can bring a scale but remember it is best to weigh fish while in the
net muskie are heavy fish so you want to avoid hanging them from the scale by
their mouth. Alright guys the tools are important and
all but let’s talk about the fun stuff the rods reels and baits you will need
to chase Musky. First let’s talk about rod and reels there are all sorts of rod
and reels on the market so I won’t get into too many specifics. Personally I
like to use a bait casting reel with a six four gear ratio and an eight foot
medium heavy or heavy rod with fast action. A long rod is important for
casting distance in the figure eight which we’ll talk about later. With this
setup you can easily cast and retrieve most baits on the market. If you’re going
to spend the money spend it on a good reel. These baits are heavy and cheap
reels can wear out quickly. I use an 80 pound braided line with an 80 pound
fluorocarbon leader you can also use steel leaders if you like. As far as
musky baits are concerned there are a lot to choose from. But most of them fall
into five categories: inline spinners, crank baits, soft plastics, jerk baits, and
top water baits. Musky fishing is very seasonal and certain baits are more
productive than others depending on the time of year you are fishing. In the
spring after the spawn inline spinners and topwater baits can be very
productive both of these baits are easy for the
novice angler to use a straight retrieve with either of these baits will have the
Muskys looking to chase. Changing the speed of your retrieve can also be
productive. In the fall and winter larger baits like soft plastics and crank baits
work well. These are also effective using a straight retrieve but Muskys love to
eat a bait that looks wounded. So working them erratically through different
depths in the water column using a jigging technique will increase your
catch rate. Finally there are jerk baits these type of baits typically run just
under the surface and dart all over the place. Musky love these baits no matter what season you are fishing. It can be a little challenging to and walk the dog hands down so be
patient practice makes perfect. Regardless of what bait you choose when
you set the hook you want to pull on the rod in a sweeping motion as hard as
possible. Musky have very hard mouths so a firm hook set is required to keep them
on your line. Also, when fighting your fish keep your odd tip down angling away
from the direction the muskie is facing and keep your line tight. Muskys have a
tendency to jump and shake their heads which can dislodge your bait. By
following these tips you can keep your fish hooked up and in the net. Muskys can be challenging to catch by
learning about their biology and life histories can help improve your odds.
Musky are not native to the waters of the Commonwealth. They are stocked to create a trophy fishery and some of our impoundments and rivers. Musky like to live in deeper waters so anglers should target the
slower deeper pools and cast around woody debris, boulders, weed lines, and
drop-offs. They like to eat minnows suckers and even birds and small mammals. In Virginia Musky spawn from the end of March into April when the water is 50 to
60 degrees Fahrenheit. During the spawn they can be very challenging to catch
and most anglers avoid this time of the year. Muskys are cool water fish and become stressed easily when water temperatures
exceed 75 degrees anglers should consider limiting muskie fishing when
water temperatures reach 75. At this temperature even fish that swim away strongly are stressed and may die after being released the best time of year to
fish for muskie in Virginia is May through early July and October through
early March. Muskys are nicknamed the fish of 10,000 casts for a reason they are challenging to catch. However hooking into one of these big fish can be quite
rewarding. Musky are curious in nature and will often follow you lure back to
the boat inspecting it carefully. Once your lure is boatside you can stick your
rod tip in the water and make a large circle or figure eight to entice the
musky into biting. It is one of the most exciting ways to catch a fish. By varying
the speed or depth in your figure eight you can oftentimes convince the muskie
to bite. All right so we’ve caught a musky now
what you’re like me your adrenaline is pumping your hands are shaking. Calm down the fish will be finding your net gather your tools take a breath and then go
ahead and work on the fish. Remember to use your gloves to protect your hands
using the long handled pliers grab the shank of the hook. Oftentimes giving the
hook a quick firm shake will dislodge it. To hold your fish using one hand grab
the caudal peduncle which is located just in front of the tail with the other
hand cradle the muskie under the stomach. This hold helps you control the Muskys
tale while providing support. Take a quick photo a quick measurement and
release them. If they seem a little tired you can hold them in the water by the
caudal peduncle until they regain their equilibrium. A gentle push will often get
them swimming. On behalf of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries I’d like to thank you for tuning in to this instructional video. For more
information on Musky please visit our website. Thanks for watching and remember to go outdoors Virginia!

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