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Mike Steckelberg

winter muskies

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just wondering what others like to use when fishing for muskies through the ice and open water? i'm really new to muskie fishing and just looking for a few pointers to get started

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Ice fishing for bass and muskie is controversial though sometimes I wonder why...

Muskie take a long time to grow and the deep, dark secret of ice fishing is that mortality rates can be very high under normal conditions. Pull a fish out of the ice when the temperature is below 32 degrees and those gills don't take long to freeze. The fish will still be kicking and look healthy but it won't take long to die after its released. Holding a muskie out of the water for a few minutes to snap a photo is stressful in the summer but doable if you are careful. In the winter, it can be downright deadly without even knowing it.

Oh, and another thing is that even in good summer conditions with no out of the water photographs, you can still require a lenghty time of nursing a muskie back to swimming for a good release. In the winter time, especially with as much ice as there is now...you slip that muskie back into the water and she just might sink all the way down where she'll die. Those big fish just don't do well with recovering from the epic battles that get our pulse racing.

There's also probably a connection to the old spearing argument about pike versus muskie. A lot of muskie anglers like to blame pike spearers for "accidentally" sporking muskies and dwindling the population. It used to happen...does it still? I don't know.

I have accidentaly caught tiger muskie out of metro lakes through the ice but that's about it. It happens but just like during the summer, muskie are hard to find when there's so much water to cover.

My advice is stick with the big pike and walleye for a winter trophy. It's legal to catch a muskie, however, and if you want to keep one you are legally entitled to it. Just don't brag too much and expect everybody to love you for it! smile.gif

On a more fun note...See ya at Muskie Expo! eh? laugh.gif

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Quote:

Pull a fish out of the ice when the temperature is below 32 degrees and those gills don't take long to freeze


Just keep your house nice and toasty and you won't have to worry.

Quote:

good summer conditions with no out of the water photographs, you can still require a lenghty time of nursing a muskie back to swimming for a good release


with the cold water it is not as much as a problem, just keep the fight as short as possible and the fish will be ok.

Petrowski has a good video on this site where he catches a nice ski through the ice. You should check it out. He uses air plane jigs and Mepps cyclops spoons. I had never thought of using cyclops spoons.... Its a good idea. Salmo Zippers can be good too. (it's like a jigging rattle trap)

Winter skis can be tough to find because not many people fish them in the winter. I don't target them but we will get 1 or 2 a year on a rattle reel.

One thing to remember is that Muskies eat very rarely even in the summer little lone winter when they slow their metabolism and become almost dormant. Getting one to hit durring hard water can be tough.

Good Luck,

John

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thanks for all the info i haven't fished for muskies ever in my life, but it is something i am very interested in starting and all the info i can obtain before i start will only benifit me in the long run..thanks again

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Quote:

There's also probably a connection to the old spearing argument about pike versus muskie. A lot of muskie anglers like to blame pike spearers for "accidentally" sporking muskies and dwindling the population. It used to happen...does it still? I don't know.


If you read the Outdoor News look in the cuffs and collars section on the report of the week. It's guy's like that who really strike a chord with musky guy's.

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I remember reading a post some time ago (think it was BobD; not sure though) mentioning how when fishing Pike, he would rig up a Boga or Rapala Grip with a coiled lanyard, attached to a carabiner, attached to himself.

If you are not harvesting, and if you want to CPR, then:

Land and lip the fish with the lipper tool.

Put the fish back into the water to keep it from freezing.

Prepare for the photo.

Pull the fish out, snap the shot, and quickly release her back down the hole.

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I'm with eyehead on this one didn't anyone see the cuffs and collars about the guy who got spearing muskies on Miltona. I am not against spearing but I beleive something has to be done to protect our fish. Lake miltona has always been a controversial lake with the locals actualyit is where no more muskies was started. Does anybody think we should try to get spearing stopped on that lake and how would a guy get the ball rolling on that.

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In the “Regulation Changes That Could be Implemented” section of the new regulations, the DNR says that muskie fishing might be discontinued in December. The date most talked about is December first. If this does come to pass that could effectively end ice fishing for muskie in Minnesota (spearing included).

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BnS,

I hope you did not take my comment as an anti spearing statement. Although I personally would not do it, I would not give anyone a hard time if they legally speared a muskie. To each his own if it is done legally. My point was that that if the December 1st regulation is put in place, it will be hard to go ice fishing for muskies since there generally is not enough ice at that time to do a lot of ice fishing (or spearing) for anything.

I posted the same comment in the “Where Everyone going Opening Day Spearing?” thread and I don’t think I got even one comment on it then. My hope was that once people realized that muskie season ends on December 1st (hopefully), the debate would not be as contentious.

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hey jackpot its against the law to spear muskies. thats what BnS was getting at. designated muskie waters are not even open to spearing for the other esox.

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that is correct. As a spearing fisherman, you can not spear muskies. And yes, there is alot of lakes that are muskie lakes that you can not spear on. I think its a great thing to be able to have these laws where there not allowing spearing fisherman to be able to spear on lakes that have alot of muskies in them. Reason i say this, is becuase people are not going to be able to make the mistake to take a muskie when there spearing.

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im almost positive that spearing is allowed on some designated muskie lakes, i know there is a list of lakes in the law book where you cant spear muskies, its on page 60 of the 2006 regs. for example, leech lake isnt on the list, im pretty sure theres a lot of muskies in there, what about lake bemidji,big detroit, waconia, etc???? maybe im wrong here, what constitutes a designated muskie water?

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The DNR designates the waters. Any DNR designated muskie lake is one that is managed for it's muskie population and is off limits to spearing. There are many lakes that have nice populations of muskies, but are not designated as managed for muskies, therefore are open to northern pike spearing.

Steve

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Oops, my bad. Being someone that has never done any spearing, I have never read the regs close enough to notice that muskies were never included in the allowable fish category. With all of the debates over spearing and how it affects the muskie fishery, I made an assumption that spearing for them was allowed in some lakes. I’m glad you guys set me straight.

I would like to get out in a dark house sometime just to see the view of the lake. The pictures you guys put out here really are cool.

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This is correct. There are alot of lakes that have a good population of muskie in them, but without the law from the DNR, its not allowing to hold the lake to no spearing. Awesome information.

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Hiya -

Well, the story with the spearing ban lakes is not quite that simple VMS...altough you have the gist of it right.

There are 26 lakes which are closed to spearing in Minnesota in 2007.

The initial list of lakes that were closed to spearing about 12 years ago as experimental regulations included some natural lakes, and mainly the brood stock lakes the DNR uses to take spawn from for the muskie stocking program. A couple years ago, that reg was set to expire (experimental regs have a sunset by statute.) Some of the lakes on the original list were dropped (they no longer have viable muskie populations), while 27 were retained or added under the special regulation designation. Special regs have no built-in sunset clause, and are perpetual unless specifically removed by the department or the legislature (the legislature's authority here becomes key later in the conversation...).

So not all lakes that are managed for muskies have a spearing ban. Lakes like Leech, Vermilion, and Miltona aren't on the list, for example.

The initial creation of the spearing closure was a hugely controversial issue. It got pretty ugly at times. The animosity between the muskie guys and the MDHA goes back to those days (I was around for some if it...).

Since then some in the spearing community have wanted to get the ban lifted on some or all of the lakes. Last year, the ban on French Lake was lifted via the legislature. Language lifting the ban was inserted as an amendment to an unrelated bill. Basically, they snuck in the back door.

To me, to say using the leigslature to bypass the DNR sets a bad precedent is an understatement. To me, it's a nightmare scenario. Letting the legislature make management decisions on an individual fishery, completely bypassing a management process based on biology and the best available science (a process which the legislature itself mandated back in 1984) is an incredibly dangerous road to go down. They got what they wanted. Tomorrow, someone with a different agenda and friends in St. Paul might get something stuck to an omnibus bill that they might not like quite so much... The bottom line is end-runs around the management process via a pliant politician can't become acceptable.

So the spearing ban is an issue again since some in the MDHA want it lifted on some or all of the ban lakes. I'm not sure what will happen. Spearing on lakes without a ban is an issue too. I've had MDHA officers tell me they've never heard of anyone spearing a muskie, and that it never happens. Whether it's accidental or deliberate, I think it's pretty obvious that's not the case. If you doubt me on that, ask the DNR about their spring surveys on some muskie lakes where spearing is allowed, and how many muskies show signs of surviving spear wounds. While you can debate frequency and impact on the fishery, you can't say with any credibility that it doesn't happen. Period.

As for the December closure...it was proposed in part to reduce what can be some very intense harvest - mainly of tiger muskies, but some pure strain was well - at early ice on some of the metro lakes. They're pretty easy to catch at that time frankly, and they were getting hit pretty hard. The MMA had originally asked for a Dec 15 closure to allow guys to fish on southern waters into Dec when there's a late ice up, but the Dept. wanted it on Dec 1 to match some other regulations, and it was either Dec 1 or not at all...so Dec 1 it is.

Cheers,

Rob Kimm

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Quote:

In the “Regulation Changes That Could be Implemented” section of the new regulations, the DNR says that muskie fishing might be discontinued in December. The date most talked about is December first. If this does come to pass that could effectively end ice fishing for muskie in Minnesota (spearing included).


Although the 2007 regulations do in fact show that the season on muskies closes in February of 2008, I received word last night that the early closing date has been passed and is now law. Musky season will close on December 1st.

Aaron

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As of next year they are going to allow spearing in French lake witch is a designated muskie lake. And if they close the muskie season in December that is not going to change peoples minds they are still going to fish for them, I mean fish for pike. confused.gifconfused.gif

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Rob has alot of the spearing/muskie history correct. I'll add a little bit more.

The Mn DarkHouse Association was formed because muskie fishermen were advocating the DNR eliminate spearing.

Dark house spear license numbers are low and they get lower every year. I think the smartest thing anglers can do is let the DNR manage spearers and as the older guys die out, the sport will die out as well.

Tom B

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I would have to agree with you on the point that the population is going down with spearing.

But the sport will never die. The MDHA is goign to keep the sport alive in the state of minnesota. There are alot of people like myself, that go out and try and take other people long with me to show them what spearing is all about.

90% of the people that dont spear, have never tried it. Reason is becuase for one, they have no clue what to do, two, people ahve never showed them how to do it, or three, they are just to lazy to do it. I have had alot of people that have came out with me, never done it before, and are die hards about it now.

It is a sport that alot of people dont know anythign about, and if there are people out there that will show them the RIGHT was to spear, and the do's and dont's, the sport might get lower and lower in population, but the sport will never die.

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