Glowing shades of blue like a barracuda sliding toward the boat came a giant muskie. One of those follows you may tell people about without mentioning it was the biggest one you’d ever laid eyes on.

Happened just a few weeks ago, as I write this. One of those eye-popping, breath-stealing moments that can turn a normal, functioning human being into a babbling, obsessed “’ski head.” Muskies can exert a powerful grip on their prey, but nothing like the hold they have on our minds. What causes a fisherman to abandon every other species—and every other form of outdoor recreation—to exclusively hunt muskies?

I guess you have to be there. And those who have been there will read this and wonder: What about Wabigoon? And Green Bay? Cave Run? The English and Winnipeg rivers? Somebody will certainly ask those questions. How could such places not make a list of the world’s best musky waters? The answer is simple: Every list has to end someplace, and the criteria for this one includes world records, a history of producing giants, documented behemoths, verifiable angling reports, and real results from population and creel surveys taken by fisheries folks.

Things can change (and they always do), but that’s how we determined which muskie waters might currently be the best in all the world for the most addictive fish on the planet.