How to Troll for Muskie At Night? Can You Find Big Catches After Day?

Better weather status and fewer sunburns can be intriguing enough for anglers to go on a night fishing trip every once in a while. In addition to the fact that some game fish provide a better fishing experience when you chase them at night.

Muskies are one of the game fish that entice anglers to chase after the sun goes down, and trolling for them means winning an indirect battle which is rewarding to some anglers. But can you troll for game fish like muskies after dark with good results? Yes, you can and we’re here to tell you how.

So, how to troll for Muskie at night? To troll for muskies at night, you’ll need to be moving at a speed of 1-mph and trolling in the depth of 5-to-8 ft, you also need several medium-heavy fast action rods according to what your state allows, a reel of 6.2:1 gear ratio, big baits, a planer board, depth finder, and transducer.

This was the 30-second answer you need to understand, but there is a lot more discuss to actually be successful while trolling for Muskies at night, and luckily, you will be able to find everything you need to know in this article, you just need to keep reading…

How to Troll for Muskie at Night 

An image of a boat trolling for fish in dark to illustrate how to troll for Muskie at night

First, you need to determine the number of rods you’ll be using according to your state’s regulations. I recommend the use of 4 rods when trolling for muskies. One medium-heavy fast action rod on each side, and a planer board on each side covering different areas and depths. Find the setup illustrated below:

Credit: osgnetworks.tv

When the night falls, muskies start roaming in the open shallow water to feed, especially the big ones so you’ll be fishing for muskies at night in shallow water. This is your chance to find a big catch, by trolling in the depth of 5-to-8 feet (1.5-to-2.5 meters). It’s recommended to watch the two transducers that you’re using simultaneously. One of them mounted at the stern, and the other on the bottom of the front trolling motor. This will ensure that your lures move smoothly along edges and you can make adjustments when needed.

To catch a big fish you need a big bait, and that applies to muskies, even if it’s the fish of 10,000 casts that can be of different sizes. I encourage you to go for large bucktails because, in addition to the size advantage, the vibration it produces in the water grabs the attention of these night hunters.

Your chances to catch a muskie double if you can target its prime spots, such as weed edges or rock bar edges. No matter where you’re heading, keep your lures in the shallow.

The ideal speed you should be trolling in for muskies at night is 1 mph (1.6 km/h) or less not to spook them. Anglers go faster than that when they’re trolling for muskies at daylight, but 1 mph (1.6 km/h) is the right speed for night fishing as moving slowly with big bait seals the deal.

I have discussed trolling in Muskies (in general) in a separate guide in case you want to learn more about the speeds, depths, and tools in more detail. You can check out my guide on how to troll for muskies here.

Can You Find Big Muskie Catches At Night? 

So, can you find big muskie catches at night? Yes, you can find big muskie catches at night. Muskies feed heavily at colder darker circumstances that night provides, and big muskies are hunting and feeding more than small ones during this time. If you use big bait you’re more likely to catch big muskies in the shallow water.

Many anglers revealed that many of their biggest trophy fish ever caught was caught at night. That’s no surprise since Muskies roam more freely at night, and they’re often found in open waters not hiding in weeds so they’re easier to catch. In addition to big muskies’ feeding routine that gets heavier after the night falls.

7 Pro Tips for Catching Muskies at Night 

  1. Get to know your waters very well before you start night trolling to know exactly where you’ll target. Some anglers choose to start their trips in the daylight to be able to map out a plan to follow at night, others prefer to rely on sonar machines and GPS. Both methods are fine and can be combined to get the best of the two worlds.
  1. Target the first 2 hours after dark when Muskies are more active. Water temperature tends to go down in these two hours after it has already lost the heat of the sun. Muskies leave their usual spot that could be rocky areas or weed beds and roam around in open shallow water. Your chances to catch a big muskie are high.
  1. Notice the slow follow at daylight. This might require you to start your trip a little earlier than you planned, but it’s worth it. Your chances to catch a muskie at these places are doubled, as slow fish at daylight turn into biters at night.
  1. The dark-colored lure for dim nights, the bright-colored lure for full-moon ones. Lures with dark colors work better in showing up against the dark sky, while bright shining colors reflect the moonlight on full-moon nights giving you amazing results.
  1. Don’t get attached to one depth. Keep changing your depth and watch your sonar or GPS machines to spot fish and go where they are or where the bait is. The closer you can get your baits to the fish the better.
  1. Use noise-producing lures. The colors and shape of lures are not the only important thing for muskie fishing at night, you need to give them some sort of sound and movement too. Muskies see well in dark circumstances, however, they rely heavily on their lateral line and sensors to successfully feed at night. Topwaters and bucktails will seal the deal for you.
  1. Turn off the lights. Lights may spook Muskies and keep them away, taking away one of the best advantages of night fishing: darkness. It’s also important to be able to see the lures and follows, so I advise you to keep a little, dim headlamp that you can use only when you need it.

Note that you shouldn’t get your hands in the water under any circumstances.

Now, this is not a tip to help you catch muskies per se, even though it proved effective to attract muskies by wiggling your hands in the water, but you don’t want that to happen.

Muskies attack every moving thing at night while they’re heavily feeding, and they can catch your hand with their sharp set of teeth and cause serious injuries. You can learn more about Muskies biting at night here. There are some other useful safety tips in there that you should definitely know before your next trip, so make sure to check it out.

Best Months of the year to troll for Muskies at Night 

So what are the best months of the year to troll for Muskies at night? The best months of the year to troll for Muskies at night are October and September. In these months muskies are feeding heavily and constantly which raises the chances of them catching the bait. Also, they stay in shallow waters at night which makes trolling for them much easier.

Early fall is prime time for catching muskies, whether it’s with casting or trolling. In fact, trolling offers greater chances of catching muskies as it covers larger areas of water and the speed of it triggers the hunting muskies to catch the bait.

Water temperature in the fall also plays a big role in your success of catching a muskie, as it becomes cold enough for muskies to stay in the shallows and feed, so you don’t need to look deeper. Mornings, evenings, and nights are the best times to fish early in the fall as well, you have multiple options to choose from when it comes to the peak time of the day.

Related Questions 

Are Muskies active at night? 

Yes, Muskies are active at night. They leave their weed beds and other structures they use for shade in daylight and roam in shallow open waters to feed. Muskies prefer colder and darker waters to seek food. 

Can You Troll for Fish at Night? 

Yes, you can troll for fish at night as they’re active at this time of the day. The night darkness makes the fish unable to spot the fishing boat, therefore they don’t get spooked. The speed is also a factor in successful night trolling for fish, it triggers them to catch the bait.

What Size Muskie Can You Keep?

The muskie size you can keep is 50 inches (1.3 meters), according to a survey done by WDNR and collected from all species fishermen. The majority of muskie anglers are willing to keep a muskie if they’re considered a trophy, that has to be 50 inches (1.3 meters) or larger.

Are There Muskies in Lake Michigan 

Yes, there are muskies in lake Michigan even though the chances are low to catch one. Muskies aren’t stocked in Lake Michigan, however, they’re occasionally found there. This might be due to them wandering from drowned river mouth lakes in northern Michigan that have channel access to Lake Michigan.

Helpful Resources 

Trolling Tips to Catch More Muskies

Trolling Tactics to Catch More Fish