Muskies — All Summer Long

To entice strikes from summertime muskies, remember these three keys to success.

Muskies — All Summer Long

You’re driving to the lake. Weather looks good, and you remembered your favorite hat — it still has a hint of musky slime smell. Sweet!

"All Summer Long" comes on the radio. Kid Rock. 

If you change the station, stop reading this article now. Instead, go escape to “Mandy.” #turninyourmancard

If you crank the volume and sing along to “It was summertime in northern Michigan,” then let’s talk summer muskies.

Lee Tauchen and Robbie Jarnigo of Todays Angler put out an informative podcast called “Summer Musky Fishing Techniques Podcast” (season 2022, episode 3). Because it’s nearly 46 minutes long, I’ll hit the highlights. 

When it comes to finding and catching summer muskies, remember three keys: wind, sunset and slow. (Wait . . . slow? Doesn’t summer = speed? Don’t worry, I’ll explain.)

1. Wind

Lee (podcast quote): “I guess the one common denominator for summertime muskies in general was wind, right Robbie?”

Robbie: “Yeah, anytime you had a good windy day, that’s when I was out fishing.”


Wind concentrates baitfish, and muskies follow the food. Period. Windy shorelines are almost always better places to begin your search for summertime muskies than the calm side of the lake, or the calm side of islands and other lake features. Embrace the waves.


Kid Rock knows this to be true:

“Catching walleye from the dock Watching the waves roll off the rocks”


2. Sunset

Robbie: “Fished all day, I don’t think I got a single bite all day, I was out 12 hours or so, and finally sunset was there, and I got that beautiful animal (46-incher).”

Lee: “Folks, if you have only limited time to fish, go at sunset. If you can do it, go at sunset.”


There are probably 50-plus reasons why sunset is the best time to encounter a 50-plus-inch muskie. Less light penetrating the water is high on the list. Fewer recreational boaters is a factor, too. (Everyone: Insert favorite jet ski curse here.) The surface temp might dip a degree or two as well after the heat of the day is over, and that could jumpstart the entire food chain.

Whatever the reason, you HAVE to be casting at sunset. And staying until it’s completely dark isn’t a bad idea either, especially if it coincides with a moon rise.

Again, Kid Rock is well-informed:

“But, man, I never will forget The way the moonlight shined upon her hair (scales and fins?)”

3. Slow

Robbie (talking about tail-spinning topwaters): “I like going slow with it. That’s the one thing I like to do a little differently.” “I like the slower pop.”

Lee: “Pretty good hook-ups, too.”


Summertime is generally regarded as the time to burn bucktails back to the boat, and this certainly works well for triggering strikes, especially when you occasionally twitch the rod tip to interrupt a bucktail’s fast-rotating blade. That said, a slow-moving topwater, especially during low-light periods of sunrise and sunset, can be lights out.

True story: Forever ago my buddies and I visited Minnesota’s famed muskie factory Leech Lake. Summer was officially in session on Leech when hundreds of boats would cast for muskies around the miles-long cabbage flats of Portage Bay. The muskies roamed seemingly randomly, and so did the anglers. Some boats fished fast, some slow.

One late-afternoon the muskies were following regularly but not biting. It was common to see someone figure-eighting no matter which direction you looked, but almost no fish were striking. Except in one boat. Or to be more accurate, one angler in the back of one boat. He had already landed four muskies in an hour when someone yelled at him to reveal his secret lure.

“Ain’t no secret,” he said. “Ya’ll are winding too damn fast.”

He was using a Hi-Fin Creeper, and retrieving it slower than Grandma driving to church on Sunday.

While muskies were bulging buzzbaits and other fast-moving topwaters — but not striking — this guy was barely turning the reel handle. Muskies would rise up behind his Creeper and attempt to bulge it, but no matter how hard they tried to snake wildly behind his lure, they simply couldn’t.

“They get so pissed, they finally murder it,” he said smiling.

Lesson? It’s more HANGRY than hungry.

Robbie Jarnigo with a bruiser sunset muskie.
Robbie Jarnigo with a bruiser sunset muskie.

Remember these three keys — wind, sunset and slow — this summer and you could catch your personal best (PB) muskie.

I’ll let Kid Rock have the last word:

“Sometimes I hear that song

And I start to sing along

And think, man, I'd love to see that girl (musky) again”


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