Spring Musky Tips – New Diet Study Results – Spring Leader Tips

Spring Musky Tips – New Diet Study Results – Spring Leader Tips

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Spring Musky Locations

Spring Musky Location

It took long enough, but it seems like spring is here to stay.... #KnockOnWood

We decided to reach out to MN guide Chris Whitney to get a few tips that will help you locate 'skies this spring, specifically once they've moved out over open water.

With the extra-late spring this year, everything is going to be behind. That said, once the 'skies have wrapped up the spawn and transitioned out of the spawning bays and shallow weeds, they'll be heading out to the basin – obviously the further south you're fishing, the earlier/sooner that will happen.

The cats outta the bag with the open water bite, but Chris does a good job of breakin' it down simply for anyone lookin' to do some basin fishin' this year:

"Once the spawn is over on lakes with strong populations of pelagic fish such as cisco/tullibee and whitefish, some of your best fishing locations can be in the open water. These baitfish will often be in or near some of the deeper sections of the lake feeding on a variety of small bugs and plankton.

"Keep your eyes peeled for muskies or bait on your electronics, but also look for jumping bait and birds like loons, seagulls and pelicans to give away their location.

"Trolling is one of the best ways to cover water as some of these basin areas are massive. Being cold blooded, the muskies like to suspend in the warmer water closer to the surface so they can 'charge their batteries'. Not only is the warmer water more comfortable but it also helps speed up digestion. The muskies also like to push bait against the surface to feed.

"Muskies will swim quite deep at times to feed, but it's not good for the health of the fish to pull them up from deep water. We are typically running our baits in the top 15 feet of the water column regardless of how deep the basin is."

Supernatural Mattlock

"Crankbaits get the majority of the action in my boat with Supernatural baits being the favorite. Preferred bait size, color and action can vary day-to-day, so mix up your spread until you find what they want. Don't be afraid to try some bright/goofy colors!

"Unless you already have fish located, start out with big passes to cover water but tighten these passes up once fish are located as they will swim in packs. Feeding windows may be short at times so make sure you make multiple passes over the fish you locate. Don't overlook casting or jigging these areas either!"

A couple of Chris's go-to casting/jigging options include Bull DawgsMedussastubes & swimbaits.

Chris, who guides for Leisure Outdoor Adventures, will be one of the instructors at the MN Musky School this year at Agency Bay on Leech Lake.

BTW, if you're looking for more info on basin 'skies, check out the Open Water Muskies class with Luke Ronnestrand. It's jam-packed with hardcore advanced tips/tactics that will help you boat more open water fish.

New Diet Data

Raise your hand if you love statistics & graphs 🤚

Raise TWO hands if you love graphs that have more evidence that muskies aren't "eating all the walleyes" or whatever... 🙌

Check out this slick graph from a study on Lake Shamineau, MN with Tyler Ahrenstorff and Brian Herwig:

Musky Diet Study

The data is fairly simple – it shows total consumption of various prey species for the major predators in Shamineau:

WAE = Walleye

NOP = Northern Pike

LMB = Largemouth Bass

MUE = Muskellunge

A few things that stick out (for all you colorblind folks who can't see the data):

  • Bass eat a lot of crayfish (duh)
  • Pike eat a ton of panfish, perch and bass
  • Muskies eat a lot of bullhead
  • Walleyes eat a lot of panfish and perch

Lots of variable to consider (lake-to-lake differences & how different surveys are conducted), but here's yet another piece of data that shows muskies aren't destroying your favorite walleye lake....


Smaller Bait = Smaller Leader

One piece of advice we hear all the time for springtime 'skies is you should leave your plus-sized lures in the garage and tie on smaller, less aggressive baits.

You'll hear the same recommendation for pressured fish.

Well, if you're bustin' out the glorified bass gear, don't forget to pair those baits with the right sized leaders.

Here's Steve Heiting's two cents on the topic:

Musky leaders

There's no doubt that heavier, bulkier leaders will impact the action of smaller baits.... whether you're talkin' twitch baits, jerkbaits, etc.

That's why Steve uses the Stealth Twitch Bait Leader which he helped develop. It's 6 inches long with a 124# solid stainless steel wire, and a #3 Stay-Lok snap.

He uses the ball bearing swivel version for small bucktails and the non-swivel version for baits that don't spin on the retrieve.

No swivel = less weight on the nose of the bait.

Something to keep in mind this spring!

This Week's Mashup:

Mashup time!

#1 – Not to be a "creeper" but this is one of the better musky-themed couple photos we've seen! Well done, Doug & Jessie 👍

Musky Creeper Lure

#2 – For all you metro musky-heads, mark your calendar. The Metro Musky Tournament is happening on June 11th. We're helping spread the word – this is one of our favorite tourneys of the year.

We featured this 49-inch tournament winner from Jeremiah Grimsley (2019) in our second-ever Musky Insider newsletter. How's that for a #throwback!

Tonka Musky

#3 – Any of you running spinnerbaits for springtime 'skies? A Willow/Colorado combo (like these Tandem Nutbusters) can really ring the dinner bell, especially when you're fishing in and around weeds, rocks and timber.

Llungen Spinnerbait

#4 – Safe to say Mother Nature is a little off her rocker this year. How bout this clip from Pete Maina ft. a crazy downfall of golf ball sized hail?? #sheesh

Hail Storm

#5 – Check out this musky-themed kids book from Amy Koerksen. I feel like "misunderstood" is the perfect word to describe muskies in the fishing community.

Musky Kids Book


– Fishing innovator Ray Scott dead at 88 years old (link)

– Insights from last musky season w/ Burnin Eights (video)

– Last light musky bite w/ Doug Wegner (video)

– PMTT Cave Run Winners on Road Rules Pod (link)

– Color selection tips w/ Steve Genson & TRO (video)

– Southern WI musky opener w/ Smith’s Fishing (video)

– Spring musky location tips w/ Joe Bucher (video)

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Gorgeous clean Nebraska 'skie sent in by Daryl Bauer, caught by his son! 💪

Nebraska Musky

Props to Scott on poppin' this sweet southern 'skie on the fly.

Fly Fishing Muskie

John Hoyer can't keep the muskies off his line.... even when he's pre-fishin' for a big smallmouth tournament on Sturgeon Bay. Have any of you ever thought about downsizing your musky tubes??? 😂

John Hoyer Musky

Wanna be featured in Musky Insider? Send in your recent trophy musky photos by replying to this email. You might just see your pic in next week's newsletter. 🤙

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