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Though rare, muskie exceeding 70 pounds (31.8 kg) still roam our waters — so, in prime habitat, you never really know if you're going to experience a relaxing day of fishing or set a new world record. It's best to fish for these powerful predators after the season opens in June and again in September when water temperatures begin to cool. July and August, however, produce substantial numbers of small to medium-sized muskie.
Key fishing times during the day include morning and evening when baitfish activity peaks, and between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. In many lakes, muskie are also active for a few hours after midnight.
Good habitat varies from lake to lake and river to river, but the basics usually remain the same. Sunken islands, points, saddles between visible islands, bottlenecks in current flows and weedbeds all hold promise if they're within casting distance of deeper water. Look for muskie to hold in transition zones at drop-offs. Work each location top to bottom.
Effective lures for muskie are large surface or diving lures, spoons, and bucktail spinners. They also like live bait such as suckers, chubs, and frogs.
Don't forget landing and release equipment. Muskie are powerful fish with razor-sharp teeth. Care must be used when handling them to avoid injuries to both the angler and the fish.
Ontario's record catch
Average sizes: 10 to 20 lbs (4.5 to 9 kg).
Temperature and habitat: Often found in water up to 78°F (25.5°C), but big muskie, like big northern pike, prefer cooler water. Optimum spawning temperature is 55°F (12.8°C). Lives in a range of habitats, from small lakes to the Great Lakes, usually near cover or structure, but will suspend over deeper water.
Biology: Spawns in spring later than northern pike in many of the same vegetated flooded areas. Can hybridize with northern pike to produce sterile, fast-growing "tiger" muskie.
Range: Extreme northwestern Ontario and roughly south from Sault Ste. Marie, including parts of the Great Lakes (except Superior) and Lake St. Clair.