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Spawning muskies?


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OK, I admit it- I can't figure it out. I've asked this question before and I still don't feel like I've got a good answer. I'm looking for a specific, detailed answer to this question...

What type of water and cover on Lake of the Woods do muskies spawn in? Generally, I understand that they use shallow bays. I've also read that they use backwaters (also read they use black waters, but I don't know what a black water bay is!), which is another way of saying shallow, weedy bays as I see it. So if I'm looking for a spawning area on LOW, am I simply looking for water that is full of relatively shallow cabbage? South facing cabbage filled bays? Is it slop weeds rather than cabbage? Is it a sloppy bay that faces South? Is it a combo of slop and cabbage? What weed(s) do muskies actually use to spawn in? Somebody please give me a detailed (and correct) answer to where muskies spawn on LOW.


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Hey Scoot -

Nice to see you the other night...

Muskies on the Woods, as far as I've experienced, tend to spawn in the shallow weedy bays and up in shallow nooks and crannies between island clusters, stuff like that. If you look at the map, big areas of 'blue water' away from the main basin are sort of where I start looking. But, this is based on where I fish for them early season on LoTWs or other shield water moreso than where they may actually go to make little muskies. Pretty much the general early season rules of thumb I guess - dark bottomed bays away from direct wind current that can push in cold water, that sort of thing. I really think they spawn all over the place here and there throughout the lake in larger or smaller densities depending on how much spawning habitat's available...



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I will do my best from what I have read and heard from others regarding muskie spawning on LOTW's. I beleive on LOTW's they spawn in very similar areas as big pike, but when the water is warmer. Protected bays on the north side of the main basin areas would be best early in the year. A feeder creek or stream would also help warm the bay. Dark bottom bays (muddy)that have high water areas from the spring thaw might also be more attractive to spawning fish. As with pike they can be right up in the brush that is flooded when spawning. Larger bays will tend to hold more fish but will warm later creating a later spawn than smaller bays. As RK stated fish do spawn all over the lake to promote their very own survival. If they all spawned in the same area one major negative biological or environmental event occurred it could destroy the species. The bays do not have to be on the main land, bays on the many islands would also be key spots. If you look at a map of LOTW's you would have 100's of these bays to try out. It is really a process of elimination to find the best ones. I would look for bays close to big water areas, bays that have structure at the mouth like small islands, weed beds, or reefs. Something that will keep fish in the area after spawning. Structure within the bay would also be nice. They can spawn in anything from reeds to mucky weedless bottom or sand. It is preferable to have cabbage or other weeds close by for the fry to to survive in after hatching. I would guess the biggest key if a mature muskie will stay around a spawning area is if there is food for an adult fish. That is why I believe areas that are close to big water may tend to be better spots.

If you are looking for more info on muskie biology go to my contact page at: http://muskieguide.homestead.com/contactinfo.html and click on the link for the International Muskie Page. Ton's of stuff on Esox Biology.

I hope this helps some.

David Swenson


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