Minnesota autumn muskie fishing can be best of year

By C.B. Bylander

Oct 04, 2018

Those who want to catch large muskellunge in Minnesota may want to consider fishing in October and November, typically the time of year when anglers are winterizing their boats and putting them away for the year. In recent years, some very large fish – state record size fish – have been caught. 

When temperatures tumble Minnesota’s most serious muskellunge anglers rub their hands in warm anticipation.

It’s something you may want to consider, too.

That’s because October and November are regarded as the best months for catching a Minnesota state record or 50-inch or longer muskie. Yes, when most anglers are winterizing their boats muskies are actively feeding in advance of winter, and they are often the heaviest they have been have all year.

And they bite.

In 2015, for example, in less than a month anglers at Mille Lacs Lake caught two incredible fish. On Thanksgiving eve, a 30-inch girth muskie estimated at 61 pounds was caught by Dominic Hoyos of Stillwater, Minn. The catch surpassed a 57-inch Lacs muskie caught just 16 days earlier on the same lake on a flyrod.

The Hoyos muskellunge is considered the largest fish ever caught on Mille Lacs. It is estimated to be seven pounds heavier than the state-record muskie and three pounds heavier than the certified world-record muskie of 58 pounds caught in Michigan October 2013.

Late season muskie fishing is no picnic. Freezing temperatures. Cold hands. Ugly whitecaps. Iced-up rods and reels. All of these and more are in store for those who long for this autumn’s full moons of October 25 and November 22, the latter Thanksgiving Day.

Photo courtesy Toby Kvalvog of Leisure Outdoor Adventures

If you do try late season muskie fishing before it closes Dec. 2, a few things to consider:
  1. Some lakes, such as Mille Lacs, don’t “turnover” in October due to their relatively shallow depth. But for those that do, consider fishing before or after this annual mixing of cooler and warmer water and temporary turbidity.
  2. As always, experiment with presentations. Some anglers like to work jerkbaits slowly around weedbed edges. Others like to jig big soft plastic lures. Another popular option is a large sucker minnow attached to a quick-strike rig. So too is trolling a wobbling crankbait at a slow speed. All work. Other options do, too. Pick a presentation you feel confident about.
  3. Be prepared for the weather and the unexpected. Late season open water fishing can be highly rewarding but risks are higher too. This time of year staying dry is important, so pack extra gear in the event rain, sleet, snow or the spray from waves.
Learn more about where you can go Fishing in Minnesota. Before planning your next fishing trip to go catch muskie get your MN fishing license
C.B. Bylander
C.B. Bylander
C.B. Bylander is a long-time Minnesota angler who has extensive fishing experience throughout the state. He is a former outdoor magazine field editor, daily newspaper outdoor editor and Department of Natural Resources fisheries communication specialist.