One of the pleasures of anticipating your fishing trip is assembling the kit of gear that will allow you to successfully catch the fish you want. Here is the basic gear list for muskies. For those new to this fishing, the Andy Myers Lodge website has an overall primer entitled Planning Your Trip: A Year on Eagle Lake.
The muskies in Eagle Lake have the right genetics and habitat to grow to world-record proportions. Very few bodies of water have documented 60” muskies like the fish caught here by John Coleman and Edward Walden, many experienced anglers have seen fish in the lake that makes them believe it can happen again. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources agrees with that assessment, designating Eagle Lake as potential world record water with a minimum size limit of 54”, and protecting reproduction with an intelligent season opener on the third Saturday in June when they are nearly fully recovered from spawning. Of course, the majority of fish you can expect to catch will be in the 38-48” range, but the odds are very good that, if you put in the time, you will encounter exceptional fish larger than 50” during your trip.
Generally, smaller lures are most effective early in the season, such as blades in sizes #8 or less, small rubber, hard baits in the 5-8″ range. As the summer goes by and turns to fall, the baits seem to get larger until people are throwing immense rubber baits, hard-pulling big blades, and jerkbaits that are simply too much work for many anglers to fish enjoyably. Those big baits do catch fish, but fortunately, smaller baits can also be effective at any time of the season. Ken O’Brien’s 65-pound record fish was caught on a 4” Rapala!
That means that the most important consideration is to match the rod, reel, and bait with the stature and strength of the individual. An angler who is using an appropriate bait, thus, able through the whole day to read the structure, cast accurately, work the bait, and do a good boatside turn after every cast will probably catch more fish. They will certainly have more fun than somebody who is zoned-out from casting an exhaustingly big bait and sloughing off all the awareness and mechanics of good fishing. You should choose baits that you can comfortably cast all day and secure in the knowledge that bigger baits don’t necessarily mean bigger fish.
However, even if you choose an arsenal of smaller baits, we recommend that your rods are at least medium – heavy, or heavy action, because you can encounter a giant fish at any time, often at boatside with less than 3 feet of line out. It can be difficult to set the hook and handle a big fish with a lighter rod.
Jigging and Casting
- Rod/reel/line combination – Most anglers using most baits will need an 8’6” to 9’ heavy, fast action casting rod such as St. Croix Mojo Muskie; Legend Tournament; Legend Elite – or Shimano Compre; Skixx Muskie – or Chaos Tackle Assault. Pair the rod with a muskie casting reel such as Shimano 400 Tranx; 400 Calcutta B, Calcutta D, or 400 Shimano Conquest – or Abu Garcia Beast 60. Spool the reel with an 80-pound super-braid line such as Seaguar Threadlock, or Power Pro, with a 14-18” leader of 100 to 125-pound fluorocarbon with a ball bearing swivel (It is important that the leader not be too long, or you cannot make good boatside turns), or 90-pound bronzed wire.
- Smaller stature men and women, kids, or elderly anglers using smaller baits may prefer an 8’-9’ medium heavy, fast action rod such as St. Croix Premier; Legend Tournament; Legend Elite – or a Chaos Tackle Surgical Strike. Pair the rod with a smaller size muskie reel such as 300 Shimano Calcutta B or Calcutta D; 300 Shimano Tranx – or Abu Garcia Beast 40. Spool the reel with 65 to 80-pound super-braid such as Seaguar Threadlock or Power Pro, with 14” of 80 to 100-pound Stealth fluorocarbon leader, or 12” of 90-pound bronzed wire.
- Those throwing big baits, like big rubber, or ripping big minnow baits, may want to have an 8’6” to 9’6” extra heavy, fast action rod such as St. Croix Premier; Legend Tournament Big Nasty, or Big Dawg – or Chaos Tackle Assault Shock and Awe. Pair the rod with a 400-500 Shimano Tranx High Speed, or an Abu Garcia Beast 60 High Speed. Spool the reel with a 100-pound super-braid such as Seaguar Threadlock or Power Pro, with an 18” leader of 130 to 150-pound Seaguar Stealth fluorocarbon leader, or 12-16” of solid 175 to 250-pound wire.
- Casting lures – You can get as crazy as you want on this topic, but if you have a basic assortment of the following lures and put them in the right place at the right time, you will catch muskies. Bring the baits you have confidence in – preferably the ones that are all chewed up! AML’s tackle shop and Bobby’s Sports in Vermilion Bay are also well supplied with lures that are productive on Eagle Lake.
- Bucktails with inline blades in sizes 8, 9, and 10 – brown/gold; black/chrome; black/nickel; black/orange; black/chartreuse; and white/nickel.
- Jerkbaits – Suick 9 to 10” in fire tiger; sucker; walleye – Phantom SofTail – Chaos Tackle Shum Shum Glide Bait in walleye or perch.
- Minnowbaits – Livingston Squeaky Pete; Grandma; Chaos Tackle 8” Mini X; in walleye, cisco, and perch.
- Topwater – Lake X Lures Fat Bastard; Bucher Top Raider; Livingston Walking Boss; Maina Doc; Weagle; Creeper.
- Crankbaits – Livingston Rachel; Bucher Depth Raider; Triple D, in perch, walleye, cisco, and white
- Rubber – Magnum Bulldawg; Swimmin’ Dawg; Rippin’ Dawg; Medussa Mid; Posseidon; Red October Tube; Bondy Bait, in white and walleye.
- Rod/reel/line combinations – 7 to 9’ (depending on the position in the boat) heavy, moderate action or 8’ all around, moderate action glass or composite trolling rod such as St. Croix Premier Glass; Mojo Muskie Trolling – or Chaos Tackle Assault Stick. Pair the rod with a reel such as a Shimano 500-600 Tekota Line Counter, spooled with an 80-pound super-braid such as Seaguar Threadlock or Power Pro, or 30 to 40-pound monofilament with a 40” leader of 100 to 150-pound Seaguar Stealth fluorocarbon, or 36” of 90-pound bronzed and or coated wire.
- Trolling Lures – Muskie Mayhem Trolling Girl; Jake; Grandma; Livingston Squeaky Pete; Matlock; Headlock; Legend Perch Bait; Depth Raider; Slammer, 10-12”.
- Rod/reel/line combinations – 7 to 8’ Heavy to Extra Heavy, moderate to fast action glass rods such as St. Croix Premier Glass; Chaos Tackle Assault; or a Catfish-type rod – paired with a Shimano Tekota 400-500 Line Counter Reel, spooled with 100-pound super-braid such as Seaguar Threadlock or Power Pro and a 4’ leader of 130 to 175-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon, or 3’ of 90-pound 7 Strand bronzed wire.
- Shumway Clip ‘n Go Quickset Rig.
- Musky net.
- Ruler or bump board.
- Release tools such as long-nose pliers, hook cutters, jaw spreader, and extra hooks and split rings.