Late Spring Musky Fishing—The Giants Wake Up

May 15, 2019

The musky fishing season in Wisconsin begins in May. In the southern part of the Wisconsin, the musky season opens with the regular spring gamefish opener, which is the first Saturday in May. In the northern half of the state, the season begins on the Saturday nearest Memorial Day. The dividing line between north and south is Highway 10.

In the first days of the musky season, everything is just waking up. Water temperature becomes the key to finding the best places to fish for musky. Look for shallow bays and areas where the bottom substrate is dark-colored. These will be the places where the sun warms the water more quickly than other parts of the lake. Baitfish, insects and hungry panfish will all be attracted to these warm areas. And, where you find active fish, you’ll find muskies.

For the musky angler targeting these shallow areas during the spring, the go-to bait should be the bucktail spinner, commonly referred to as simply bucktails.

Bucktails are the simplest musky bait you can use. Simply cast and retrieve. If you want the bait to run high in the water, right up near the surface, start your retrieve the very instant the lure hits the water. If you want the bucktail to run a bit deeper, let the lure sink for just an instant and then begin the retrieve. As the water temperature continues to warm, you can speed up your retrieve, letting the blade of the bucktail break the surface occasionally, causing a ruckus that should pique a hungry musky’s attention.

Another good spring bait is the crankbait. Musky crankbaits are minnow-shaped and made of either wood or plastic. They have a metal or plastic lip on the front end of them that causes them to wobble and dive as they are retrieved. Generally, the longer the lip on the crankbait, the deeper the bait will dive.

During the spring, you should fish crankbaits slow and steady. You want the bait to be easy for the musky to get a good look at it. Some variation in retrieval speed can help induce a strike. As the water warms in the late spring, you can increase the speed of your retrieve and add more pauses and accelerations. The crankbaits you use in the spring should be relatively small, from six to nine inches. Like the bucktail, the crankbait is a good lure for the beginning musky angler.

The best rods for casting light bucktails and crankbaits are seven-and-a-half- to eight-foot rods with medium/heavy action. The longer rods give you some extra leverage when casting and are comfortable to fish with.