Contact(s): Mike Vogelsang, 715-356-5211 ext. 239
WOODRUFF, Wis. -- Plenty of big fish--including a 55-inch monster in Sawyer County--await anglers planning to fish the northern musky opener May 27, based on spring netting surveys in 2017 and angler reports from recent years.
"We've had three crews measure fish over 50 inches and one that measured 55 inches," says Jeff Kampa, fisheries supervisor for Bayfield, Barron and Sawyer counties, where the 50-inchers were captured and released this spring during surveys.
Adds Mike Vogelsang, northern region fisheries supervisor stationed in Woodruff, "We've been seeing some really nice fish in our surveys and the average length of musky captured keeps trending upward."
DNR fish surveys in 2016 and this spring continued to show good numbers of 40-plus inches and trophy musky in many of the premier northern waters, as well as plenty of action in other state waters. Read the musky fishing forecasts [PDF] DNR biologists filed for many popular musky waters for 2017.
Unseasonably cooler weather in northern Wisconsin in the past month means anglers fishing the opener and early weeks of the season may need to seek out warmer water and fish smaller baits to get monster musky to bite, Vogelsang says.
"Unless things warm up in a big hurry, anglers are going to want to throw smaller, slower moving baits and find the shallowest, warmest bays you can," Vogelsang says.
In Wisconsin, the musky season is divided into northern and southern zones in recognition of differences in water temperatures and spawning dates. In the northern zone, north of U.S. Highway 10 excluding Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters, the season runs from May 27 to Nov. 30. In waters south of Highway 10, musky season opened May 6 and runs until Dec. 31. Musky fishing on the Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters opened May 15 and runs to Nov. 30.
Statewide, the minimum length to keep a fish remains at 40 inches. Anglers will want to check the 2017-18 regulations booklet for special regulations on the waters they want to fish.
Musky is the state's official fish and Wisconsin is home to the current world record musky, a 69 pound, 11 ounce fish taken from the Chippewa Flowage in 1949.
Trends in the average lengths of musky captured in DNR spring netting surveys in recent decades indicate that the size-structure of musky populations continues to improve. The average length of all muskies captured by DNR during surveys as well as the top 10 percent of those captured has increased steadily since at least 1985. As well, the percentage of 45-inch and larger muskies caught by anglers on Wisconsin waters has continued to increase through time.
For more information about musky and where to fish for them, search for musky on the DNR website.