Best Minnesota Lakes for Muskie (Muskellunge)
by Maureen Johnson, featured columnist
Lake Andrusia (Beltrami County MN)
Fishermen lie about Muskellunges. We know this lake northern pike, and yellow perch, but not for its number of Muskellunge. Legend has it that some huge ones have been caught here! There is very little bottom structure in Lake Andrusia, so take advantage of Andrusia’s vegetation-and weed-rich shoreline shelves, particularly in the 4- to 10-foot depths. Much of the Muskellunge activity occurs along the east shore, from the north to the south end. And check out the southern end in particular, where Andrusia drains into the Mississippi River. Also, check out the middle of the lake between the SE and NW corners of the lake. They like the depth.
Lake Minnetonka (Hennepin County MN)
Fish from your back yard. Get a Minnesota lake home on Lake Minnetonka!
This huge Metro lake in the area near Mound is reputed to yield a decent number of 40- to 50-inch Muskellunge (despite what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources survey indicates)! Plus, there’s plenty of sunnies, northern pike, and largemouth bass for some variety. Bear in mind that many different year-classes of Muskellunge are present, spread out in different areas of the lake according to size. And don’t forget that the Eurasian milfoil here is your new best friend! Look for transition zones, such as milfoil to sand, for example. You’re likely to get very lucky when working the areas where milfoil and broadleaf cabbage meet. Take to the weed-laden parts of the lake, such as Brackett’s Point, Cedar Point, Diamond Reef, Ferguson’s Point, Lafayette Bay to Grays Bay, Little Horseshoe Reef, and Spirit Island. Employ a Poe’s Jackpot topwater and Phantom gliding jerkbait for some good fishin’!
White Bear Lake (Washington County MN)
You ought to be able to snag some big ones here.! The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will tell you something else, but Muskie fishermen on the rampage know there are lots of them , and that they weigh more per inch than Muskellunge virtually anywhere in the state. As with Lake Minnetonka, you’ll spot plenty of vegetation. Look beyond the millfoil on the shore toward the cabbage and beds of coontail; this is where you want to be, especially 12 to 15 ft. from Manitou Island, where cabbage is abundant. Work the area with a CJ’s black or silver spinnerbait that resembles crappie, or Musky Mania Burts diving jerkbaits. Note than prism or holographic finishes work best with good water clarity. Be sure to try your fortune at Half Moon Bar and Ordway’s Bar, as well as any deeply-vegetated areas you discover.
Mille Lacs Lake (Mille Lacs County MN)
Everyone knows this lake is prime stomping for Muskellunge, yet most fear its 130,000-acre size will be too much for their tiny watercraft on windy days. Be not afraid! Just stick to the north end when the waters seem dicey; the south end is best avoided during these times. Hang on to your hats when you’re yanking in some lunkers though! Muskellunge here average 40 to 42 inches, with many measuring in at 50! While fishing the south, focus on the weeds, particularly around Cove Bay, Isle Bay, Wahkon Bay, and Vineland Bay, which are brimming with Muskellunge-attracting cabbage. Also check out the rocky areas, namely Anderson’s Reef, Hawksbill Reef, Indian Point, Shaw’s Reef, Rocky Reef, and Spirit Island. And while you’re in the north, you’ll discover miles of vegetation from Garrison to Malmo, though the fish tend to be wiser and harder to snag. Good bait choices are topwaters, bucktails, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits.
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Cedar Lake (Aitkin County MN)
This lake is a top choice when it’s quantity you’re after! The abundance of Muskellunge present here may be due to the fact that Cedar connects to the Mighty Mississippi River, where Muskellunge are native. The dark-water, seven-basin lake 3 miles west of Aitkin is 1,769 acres, with maximum depths of 28 to 106 ft.. While fishing for Muskellunge, the most productive technique is to fish the weedine, around the 15- to 18-foot depths. Cedar is also a well-known Walleye Pike lake, home to some 32-inch whoppers! The lake’s acute shoreline drop-offs and shallow reefs are popular spots for those hoping to hook these babies. You’ll also find plenty of northern pike, black crappie, and largemouths to satisfy your taste for variety.
Cedar Lake in Scott County is also reputed to contain Muskellunge!
Elk Lake (Clearwater County MN)
Nestled in Itasca State Park north of Park Rapids lies this 271-acre scenic wonder. You will be in a nature church adorned by pines and hills , and will often see loon, eagles, osprey, and great blue heron. And the Muskellunge aren’t too scant either; thanks to the lake’s abundance of ciscoes, these Muskellunge are chunky! The water here is clean and crystal clear, and as deep as 97 ft. in some areas. You’ll find plenty of aquatic plants and submerged islands to target, for which you call work using a white/cisco Northland Bionic Bucktail Spinner or trolling. And should the shoreline not produce-an unlikely scenario-spray baits at the two humps on the west end of the lake. It’s also best to come here on a weekday, as the fishing pressure here on the weekend may be less than ideal.
Located in No. central Minn. near Hackensack, 704-acre Baby Lake is a well-known Muskellunge lake, where the catch ratio is sure to work to your advantage. Most of the Muskellunge here are teensy weensy, yet there are several 50-inchers lurking about with your name on them! You might even be afraid to be in the same boat with one of these monsters! Even if you’re not lucky enough to catch one that large, you’ll likely stumble across plenty of 30-inch beauties. You’ll find plenty of Muskellunge on the north end, where they hang out around a big island, and also just off Baby’s southeast end around a pair of pushups. In the mornings and evenings, throw topwaters around the weedy areas and humps at about 6 ft.. To snag Muskellunge later in the day, move to depths between 12 and 20 ft., and work the area using a Rapala Super Shad.
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Muskies- information about the species (DNR)
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