Muskies 101

The ability of future generations to enjoy species of fish like the muskellunge is based in part, on catch and release fishing today. The quality of the fishery depends on how carefully anglers release their fish. Over the years, a series of generally accepted handling procedures and suggestions have been developed by the catch and release community.

Match the Tackle to the Fish You’re After

  • Heavy Duty Rods, Reels, Line and Leaders
  • Why? – minimize fight time and ensure a good release.
  • Casting
    • 7 ‘to 9’(+) rods
    • Mostly bait caster style reels
    • 80lb braid
    • Wire or flourocarbon leaders – 100 lb and up
  • Trolling
    • 8’ (+) rods
    • Line Counter reels
    • 100 lb (+) braid
    • Flourocarbon leaders – minimum 100 lb


Crank Baits
Jerk and Glide Baits
Top Water



Release Tools

  • Good quality large coated net (Big Kahuna) , Knipex bolt cutters (to cut hooks), long needle nose pliers, Hook out tool, jaw spreaders, gloves, measuring pole, bump board or seamstress measuring tape for getting length and girth measurements, towel
  • Other tools, split ring pliers, channel lock pliers, vice grips, scissors, hook file
  • You can tie some type of a lanyard around tools in order not to loose them

Preparing for the Catch

  • Communicate with your “net man” i.e., I will bring fish to you, net head first, hold the mesh
  • Have your net, release tools ready i.e., long nose pliers, hook cutters, gloves
  • Discuss lifting and holding techniques , practice proper release and resuscitation techniques
  • Keep your landing area ready. Keep the floor of your boat clear of clutter and keep loose hooks and lures in a tackle box, not on the floor or seat. This will help to avoid many potential accidents as well as give you plenty of room to land that trophy fish!

The Catch

  • Net the muskie head first into a large coated net
  • Keep the muskie in the net until you get the hooks removed
  • Cut hooks if required and remove cut portions from muskie
  • If you’re taking a picture, get yourself and the boat organized to minimize the time the fish is out of the water.

Vertical Holds

  • Never lift a muskie vertically by its jaw. This has the potential of causing severe injury to the fish especially if it’s a big one.
  • When lifting a muskie for a photo or any other reason, always do so horizontally using your other hand to support it under its belly. Also, never ever hold any fish by its eye sockets. This definitely causes damage to the fish.