Musky Waters Teeming With Trophy and Action Potential for May 24 Northern Opener

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The northern zone musky season opens May 24 with plenty of big fish, like this one Rachel Piacenza reeled in last year from a Burnett County lake. - WDNR PhotoMADISON – Whether you’re hoping for a trophy musky or just some musky action, anglers anticipating the May 24 northern zone musky season opener have plenty of waters to choose from.

Wisconsin has 711 lakes and more than 1,600 river miles that support musky,” says Tim Simonson, the Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist who chairs the agency’s musky team. “And about 90 percent of those waters are in the northern region.”

On top of that, nearly 50 percent of the northern waters are Class A or premier musky waters which can provide some of the best trophy or action musky fishing in the nation.

Trophy or Class A1 waters are best known for their ability to produce musky 48 inches and longer.

“The waters that are known trophy producers will often have lower musky populations, resulting in less angling action, but in return, they also have a higher potential to put out that big fish,” says Simonson. “Your best bet is to look for the larger and deeper, clear-water lakes or large flowages.”

Musky action was already hot in the southern musky zone. Steve Small caught this 45-inch musky on Lake Waubesa May 9. - Photo by Larry PfisterAction or Class A2 waters are best known for providing the most consistent angling.

“Action waters will provide faster fishing, but the chances of reeling in a big fish are lower, although it does happen,” says Simonson. “Action waters are normally smaller, shallower lakes with abundant vegetation.”

Classified musky waters aren’t set in stone and you still could find yourself with a trophy fish in action waters. A list of Wisconsin’s musky waters and their classification is available on the DNR Web site.

Anglers who do plan on heading out for the northern musky opener might want to heed the advice of DNR Regional Supervisor, Steve Avelallemant, and head for warmer water.

“Water temperatures in most of the lakes are in the low 50s which is fairly cool for this time of the year,” says Avelallemant. “Some muskies are still finishing up spawning in the largest and deepest lakes. The best action will likely be seen using smaller baits fished fairly slowly. Concentrate on shallower areas such as bays and flats where the water is a little warmer.”

The northern zone musky fishing season is open from May 24 to Nov. 30 and includes inland waters north of Highway 10. Current regulations for most waters are a daily bag limit of one and a minimum length limit of 34 inches.

DNR fisheries supervisors predict that the following statewide waters may hold some of the best trophy and action potential for 2008:

Top five waters with trophy potential

  • Green Bay – Marinette, Oconto, Brown and Door counties
  • Lake Monona – Dane County
  • Chippewa Flowage – Sawyer County
  • Okauchee – Waukesha County
  • Petenwell and Castle Rock lakes – Adams County

Top five waters for musky action

  • Little Green Lake – Green Lake County
  • Lake Wingra – Dane County
  • Eagle River Chain of Lakes – Vilas County
  • Pewaukee – Waukesha County
  • Biron Flowage – Wood County

Musky Fast Facts

  • The musky was named the official state fish in 1955.
  • The state and world record is a 69-pound, 11-ounce fish taken from the Chippewa Flowage.
  • Anglers spend about 5.3 million days fishing for musky each year.
  • In 2006, Wisconsin anglers spent $1.7 billion on fishing and an estimated $425 million of that was spent directly on musky fishing.
  • More anglers are releasing musky every year. Anglers caught an estimated 223,100 musky in 2006-07 license year and harvested only 12,500, down from 37,000 harvested in 2000.
  • In 2006, an angler reeled in a 51-pound, 2-ounce fish from a Vilas County lake and repeated tradition by bringing in a 48-pound musky from the same area in 2007.
  • Members of Muskie Inc. reported catching more than 60 fish 48 inches and greater in 2006. That’s up from the average over the past decade of about 29 fish exceeding 48 inches.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Simonson – (608) 266-5222