Guest Post: Musky Fishing Tips & Tricks

Our friends at Oak Hill Outdoor have put together some tips & tricks to help you find success when fishing for Musky!!!

Oak Hill Outdoor Fishing Gear


Founded on a love of the outdoors and conservationist principles, Oak Hill Outdoor opened The Hook Up last fall – sporting the area’s largest variety of fishing, bait, and electronics – and largest selection of Musky gear in the area. We have several avid fishermen on-staff at Oak Hill who have assembled advice for the tournament:

Oak Hill Fish


While we have warm water now, our lakes are getting colder by the day. With more oxygen in colder water, especially as the calendar approaches late August, Big Spirit and Okoboji will be perfect for your figure 8’s and your best Musky catch.

In General, you’ll have best luck catching Musky during dawn and dusk. Most boat traffic subsides in the evening, but check the local music schedules for Saturday night concerts and fireworks. Fireworks and music will draw the boats until 11:30pm.

For the tournament, double check the allowable tournament fish times – mostly morning – and find a quiet place. If you’re in the area the weekend before the tournament, scope out what parts of the lakes stay quiet during tournament qualification times.


Lakes change over time and each lake has different water chemistry. If you haven’t put decent time on the waters of Big Spirit or West Lake in a while, start studying the water patterns and the amount the lake has turned.  With lake turnover, Muskies will be in shallower waters.

Start to track temperatures at each lake. Big Spirit and the South end of Lower Gar are miles apart and temperature, precip, and wind could vary. Frequently check the rainfall on each lake, wind direction – try to track water current history.

For a serious catch, start plotting the USGS buoy data now. Here are some recommended links to local water data, like temperature and flow:

USGS West Lake:

USGS Spirit Lake:

Dickinson County Emergency Management Lake and Water Levels:

Iowa Lakeside Lab Research Buoys:


Both Big Spirit and West Lake have big fish – but different strategies. On Big Spirit, shallow weeds and blades are recommended for netting the best Muskies.

Also on Big Spirit, usually darker (black or growth with a darker green) usually hold the elusive Musky’s attention.

Late morning and early evening are pretty solid times for a catch.

BIG SPIRIT INSIDER’S TIP: Trolling perch patterns on the weed edges works if casting isn’t working.


On West Lake Okoboji, fish early morning and later evening. Again, fish weedlines. Casting the deeper weeds with blades or cranks is recommended in West Lake.

For bait, rubber would be phenomenal on West Lake.

Also, keep in mind, West Lake Okoboji is the coldest lake.

On both lakes, muskies seem to be in packs. Where you’ll finally see one – there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see a couple more.Oak Hill Outdoor Rods


You want to replicate nature when baiting Muskies.

In addition to Oak Hill’s boats, water accessories, and clothing, The Hook Up has the best assortment of Musky-catch-specific rods, reels, and plastics around! We put together a list of our recommended, in-stock Musky gear:

Rods: good-grip to decrease hand-fatigue and in case the reel get wet, various strength long rods for casting large plastics

Bait: plastics, bucktails, live, modern lures; LOCAL TIP: Last year’s tournament was won with the Chaos Tackle Medusa (in-stock at Oak Hill Outdoor)

Reels: High-end selection, including Shimano

Line Leaders: 200 pound fluorocarbon leader, 100 pound test line, etc.

Advanced Imaging Electronics & Sonar: LOCAL TIP:  You can use any type of side-imaging sonar to find good weed lines on West Lake Okoboji and Big Spirit Lake.

Oak Hill Outdoor RodsDON’T FORGET:

  • Trolling motors, release gloves, nets, and jaw spreaders
  • Beer: (on-tap at Oak Hill Outdoor, and, by the case, and individual cans): LOCAL TIP: See the Oak Hill Outdoor Musky Lure Bar Tap.
  • Grocery: snacks, bison steaks, bug spray, etc.
  • Fresh coffee
  • Bug spray for night fishing & other summer essentials
  • Clothing & Hats: Huk, Simms, Suits, Underwear, & warm layerables
  • Lifejackets

Located on the intersection of Highways 71 & 86 in North Milford, Oak Hill is open everyday – so keep us in mind when planning a meet up or grabbing gear. Also, stop in and see the Iowa State Record Hybrid Musky!

Visit us at Oak Hill Outdoor and we will Hook You Up!

Best of luck at the 2020 Professional Musky Tournament and enjoy our Iowa Great Lakes!