Video: Muskie Release 101

To properly release a muskie, you need the right tools, technique and mindset.

Video: Muskie Release 101

Catch and release is critical to sustaining top-notch muskie fisheries, and while most experienced muskie anglers know how to properly handle these top-of-the-food-chain predators, beginning anglers likely need some guidance. Doug Wegner is a full-time fishing guide on Green Bay (Lake Michigan) and Lake of the Woods (Minnesota/Ontario border), and he spends the vast majority of his time in pursuit of muskies. Through a lot of time on the water, he’s developed a successful system for handling muskies from hook set to release. 

In the 14-minute video below, Wegner explains in great detail how to properly handle a muskie beside the boat so it has the best possible chance for long-term survival. As you’ll see, it all starts with owning a large, high-quality landing net with coated mesh to avoid hurting the fish. The one he showcases in the video is from RS Nets, and Wegner also recommends models from Drifter as well as Frabill.

After a muskie is netted, Wegner removes hooks with a tool that keeps his hands 20 inches away from the sharp hooks; it’s called a Grabb-It. Other tools he keeps handy are hook cutters (i.e. bolt cutter; Wegner prefers this one from Knipex), extra hooks, hook pick (Wegner uses one from Rapala), long-nose pliers, and jaw spreaders.

If you want to safely measure a muskie, the best way is with a wet bump board so it doesn’t remove the fish’s protective slime layer; Wegner uses the brand Muskie Bumper.

Note: The same catch-and-release techniques used by Wegner on muskies work the same for northern pike. 

Wegner ends the video with good tips on holding a muskie for photos, then shows you how to recognize when a muskie is strong enough to be released into the depths. In my opinion, this is a must-watch video for anyone who hits the water with muskies in mind.

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