Catching Muskies – All About Muskellunges

Website design By BotEap.comFast facts:

  • Muskrats can live up to 30 years
  • Maximum length of a Muskie: 6 feet
  • Maximum weight of a Muskie: around 70 pounds
  • Trophy length: over 4 feet
  • Trophy weight: over 40 pounds
  • Mature females tend to be larger than males, but mature and grow at a slower rate.
Website design By BotEap.comMuskrats are non-schooling predatory fish that generally tend to stay out of sight of each other.

Website design By BotEap.comThey typically lurk near mid-lake rock outcroppings or sandbars, along beds of brush or other vegetation, and in murky waters near shorelines that are fringed with overhanging trees. They prefer larger lakes with deep and shallow basins and large beds of aquatic plants.

Website design By BotEap.comThey have a typical ambush predator design, elongated body, flat head, and caudal fins set far back on the body.

Website design By BotEap.comThe stealthy muskie hunts by waiting motionless. When a fish swims by (any fish, including other musks), they attack, impaling the prey with their large canine teeth, turning it around, and swallowing it headfirst. Interestingly, the size of the fish a muskie eats seems to be related to the final size it can reach. As the fish grows, the size of its prey naturally varies more. Even if there are plenty of small fish available, a muskie may not be able to thrive without large fish to eat. Muskrats, ducks, shrews, mice, and frogs also occasionally appear in the stomach of muskrats.

Website design By BotEap.comA varied diet:

Website design By BotEap.comMuskellunges are known to have a varied diet. They will eat other musks and any fish they see, as well as ducklings, smaller muskrats, shrews, mice and frogs, and the larger muskrats have been known to eat whole adult ducks. There is a report from a Wisconsin man in 1999 that he was dangling his feet in the water (not fishing), when a medium-sized muskie pounced and tried to swallow his toe. He ended up pulling the muskie out of the water and removing it from his foot. The foot required 66 stitches and he was ultimately allowed to keep the fish, despite the illegal size and illegal fishing method.

Website design By BotEap.comThis not recommended to use the toes as bait.

Website design By BotEap.comOther information about Muskelunges

Website design By BotEap.comMuskies and Pikes (or “Northerns”) look very similar. The surefire way to tell a muskie from a northerner is to count the pores on the underside of the jaw: a muskie has six or more. A northerner has five or fewer.

Website design By BotEap.comThe musk tiger (E. masquinongy x lucius or E. lucius x masquinongy) is a hybrid of the muskie and the northern pike. Hybrid males are almost invariably sterile, although females are sometimes fertile. Some hybrids are artificially produced and planted for angles to catch them. Tiger musks tend to be smaller than non-hybrid musks, but grow faster. The body is usually quite silvery and largely or wholly unspotted, but with indistinct longitudinal banding.

Website design By BotEap.comAlthough interbreeding with other pike species can complicate the classification of some individuals, zoologists typically recognize zero to three muskellunge subspecies.

  • The Great Lakes (spotted) muskellunge (Esox masquinongy masquinongy) is the most common variety in and around the Great Lakes basin. The spots on the body form oblique rows.
  • The Chautauqua muskellunge (E. m. ohioensis) is known from the Ohio River system, Lake Chautauqua, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River.
  • The light or barred muskellunge (E. m. immaculatus) is most common in the inland lakes of Wisconsin, Minnesota, northwestern Ontario, and southeastern Manitoba.
Website design By BotEap.comCatch the Muskie:

Website design By BotEap.comIf you want to catch a muskie, you’ll need a heavy baitcasting rod, a sizable level wind reel, a 20- to 35-pound test line, a variety of artificial lures or live bait, and a lot of patience. Allow at least 20 minutes at each location before continuing; large fish are generally not very active.

Website design By BotEap.comIt takes the average angler 20-80 hours to catch a legal musky!

Website design By BotEap.comMuskrats are generally not food fish. As predatory fish, if the food fish in your region have small amounts of toxic substances in their systems, they will accumulate in much larger amounts in the muskellunges that feed on them. Before you eat a muskellunge, pay attention to fishing advisories for the lake or state you’re fishing in.

Website design By BotEap.comThreats to the Muskie:

Website design By BotEap.comThe health and success of the muskellunge is highly dependent on the health and availability of the aquatic plants in its environment. Minnesota fishermen are beginning to notice that some of their favorite “weed beds” seem to be disappearing, thus reducing the spawning grounds and hunting grounds for the muskies they like to catch. Measures are being proposed, including greatly reducing the number of docks allowed on a lake shore, thereby reducing the human footprint on the lakes.

Website design By BotEap.comThe Muskie and Northern Pike are considered sport and trophy fish in Minnesota and are therefore valuable to the sport fishing community and the tourism economy, but overfishing hurts the population of this reclusive fish.

Website design By BotEap.comSo fish carefully and practice catch and release fishing with this fish to preserve its continued abundance in all the great lakes.

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