It is popular opinion that Lake St. Clair is the musky capital of the United States and arguably the world. With approximately 110+ species of fish (many forage fish to musky) combined with Lake St. Clair’s shallow basin, clear water, vast area of weed beds, and connecting water ways makes for a Musky’s dream habitat. There is an estimated population of 150,000-175,000 musky in Lake St. Clair and connecting water ways which puts about one fish to one acre of fishable area on the body of water.
Starting in June musky are targeted along shore lines, shallow weedy basins, and river mouth/bay areas as they have at this time finished spawning, moving out to deeper to mid lake areas both in United States and Canadian waters. Continuing on through the summer months as the water temperature increases the musky set up home ranges throughout Lake St. Clair cruising these ranges searching for forage species as their metabolism increases, unlike many species musky thrive and are very active in these warmer waters. During these months the numbers of musky caught usually increase for any given charter and many fish in the 50” caliber range are seen during this time.
As late September and early October approach the water temperatures across the Lake St. Clair and connecting water ways start to drop, scattering bait fish, lowering the muskies metabolism, and leading them to vacate their summer stomping grounds. The fish during this time start to be less aggressive as they don’t feed as frequently however this is when the true fall giants start to show up as the fish are putting on weight. Combinations of numbers, size, and stature are often seen during this time with variability.
Arguably for many individuals seeking trophy fish October through December is one of the best time periods to fish Lake St. Clair and connecting water ways as the water temperature drops into the 40’s. During this time bait fish move close in tight to shorelines, harbors, river mouths, and structurally significant areas leading forage species and musky to follow. With the muskies decreased metabolism they post up picking off baitfish from these large schools and are growing substantially for the winter months and spawn to come. While the elements can be brutal at times certainly the reward of catching one of these colossal beauty’s is worth bearing the elements. The sheer power of one of these fish will have you addicted to musky fishing!
Musky Fishing Tactics
One of the most rewarding styles to fish for musky is by casting. As simple as that sounds casting for musky is much more involved and requires a decent amount of energy, mental focus, and dedication. On Lake St. Clair we generally use pretty heavy-duty equipment consisting of 400-500 series bait-casting reels paired with 8’6”-10’FT X-XXXH rods. The line used for any given casting setup is generally a 80-120LB braid with a given fluorocarbon leader being from 100-200LB test. The reason for using such heavy-duty setups is to withstand the large rubber baits commonly thrown here which on average are between 7.5-16 ounces and can be larger. This heavy-duty gear also is geared to being able to hold up against the massive musky Lake St. Clair holds. From June-December casting is a very effective approach to catching musky and is an exhilarating approach to catching these giants, having a musky hit while casting is unlike any other feeling and often times due to there apex predatory style manner will hit right next to the boat while preforming your figure 8.
Lake St. Clair while growing in popularity for casting has been for some time considered more favorable of a lake for trolling. The expansive area of Lake St. Clair and its open shallow weedy basin makes for a lot of area to cover in search of these apex predators. So covering water fast with a spread of four to nine rods in the water with mixed presentations being fished helps finding fish, establishing patterns, and in coming across more actively feeding musky. The typical range of speed when targeting musky can is between 3.0-5.5MPH and certainly is an efficient way to cover water. Much like casting heavy duty rods, reels, lines, and leaders are used when trolling and are essential to hooking, fighting, and landing these large fish at higher rates of speed. Common baits ran while trolling include bucktails, large body baits, spoons, and occasionally crankbaits. Trolling for musky is physically less demanding of a client in compared to casting and doesn’t require prior fishing experience to jump right into. Trolling is an approach used successfully throughout the June-December musky fishing window and can at times be a good backup plan to inclement weather days.
On Lake St. Clair and its connecting water ways from the end of summer through ice up, one of the most exhilarating and more uncommon approaches to catching musky is jigging. As the musky start to push in shore following bait schools and forage fish more activity is seen in the lakes connecting river mouths and river systems, with their metabolism slowed and higher concentrations of fish in these areas slow drift vertical jigging becomes an effective tactic. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of having a musky strike jigging and is a fun approach when targeting this species!
The conservation of musky is top priority here at Wolfpack Fishing Charters. When fishing for musky we are 100% catch and release. Lake St. Clair’s world class musky fishery is due in part to the perfect attributes of habitat that allow musky to thrive and naturally reproduce here. The other part is our local guides, fishermen, and visiting anglers doing their part to practice safe catch and release, doing everything in their will to catch, safely remove hooks, properly measure/handle the fish, take a quick picture, revive, and release these beautiful creatures to live and flourish for many years to come. If any client catches a fish they want to get mounted, replicas can be done by certain taxidermists in which we will make sure to get accurate measurements and nice photos of the fish so you can have your fish and memories immortalized as a replica and the fish gets to live on to make more legends, memories, and help sustain the population.