Among freshwater fish, the Muskie truly has that “wow” factor. If you’ve caught one without knowing what they are, it probably shocked you. This striking fish is known for its predatory behavior and large size.
What is A Muskie?
The Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) is a predatory fish native to North America. It can be found in freshwater sources and is easily mistaken for other types of Pike. A game fish, the species’ high aggression makes it fun but challenging to catch. They’ve been referred to as “the fish of a thousand casts.”
Why is it Called a Muskie?
Muskie is simply a shortening of the fish’s true name, Muskellunge. The word Muskellunge is derived from several different Native American and French Canadian words. Depending on where you’re fishing, you may see Muskellunge spelled any of the 94 different ways.
Signup for my monthly newsletter to get content and gear recommendations every month. I'll send you stuff I like, I will never spam you.
What Type of Fish is a Muskie?
The Muskie is a highly predatory, freshwater fish. It belongs to the Pike family (Esocidae) and is the longest species in the family. It can be hard for an ecosystem to support a large number of Muskie, however there are several subspecies and hybrids.
What Are The Different Types of Muskie?
There are four different types of Muskie:
- Clear Muskies: No distinct pattern on the body; pointed tips on pelvic/anal fins.
- Tiger Muskies: A hybrid, the Tiger Muskie has alternating patterns of stripes and spots covering the body. Pelvic/anal fin tips are rounded.
- Barred Muskies: True to the name, Barred Muskie have vertical barring along their body.
- Spotted Muskies: Another self-explanatory pattern. The Caudal fins of Spotted Muskie are pointed.
What Does A Muskie Look Like?
We went over the patterns a Muskie can have above, but let’s take a general look at the common Muskie. These fish can get impressively large and the elongated shape of their body is as stunning as their size.
Muskies have a flat head, strong jaw, and fins that are spread over the length of the body. Coloration can vary from silver to green or brown, with patterning as an overlay (unless you’re looking at a Clear Muskie).
Muskies are most often found in large lakes and rivers. These fish need room to grow and an adequate food supply to sustain them. Populations have also been stocked in several states, mainly in reservoirs.
You’re most likely to find Muskie living in clear water. However, they won’t be out in the open; this species hangs out along vegetated areas, underwater structures, and rock or cliff outcroppings.
Where Can I Find Muskie?
Their native range runs from the Great Lakes region, north into Wisconsin/Minnesota/Michigan, throughout the Mississippi valley, into areas of southern Canada and west into New Yori. Small populations can also be found in South Carolina and Georgia. Due to introduction and popularity, Muskies can be found as far north as Maine in the United States and west into Utah.
What Do Muskie Eat?
Muskie grow slowly, but eat well. These fish are ambush predators with extremely large stomachs. They continually patrol the water for their next meal and will dine on other fish, insects, small mammals such as mice and muskrats, frogs, and even ducks.
How to Catch a Muskie
When it comes to catching Muskies, both casting and trolling are effective depending on where you’re fishing and how tight the area is. When casting, make sure you’re in the right spot – near clear water and structures where Muskies might lurk, waiting for prey.
If you opt for trolling, don’t worry about having to let out a long line. Muskies aren’t scared of much, and that goes for boat motors as well.
Whichever tactic you decide to go with, just keep in mind that most anglers catch Muskies in water at a depth of less than 25 ft.
How Big Do Muskie Get?
The average size of a Muskie is anywhere from 28-48 inches, with the average weight being 15-36 lbs. Their size is what makes them not only an excellent game fish, but a great food fish as well.
How Fast Do Muskie Grow?
By the end of their first year, young Muskies can reach just over a foot in length. For the first five years of their lives they grow quickly, but this growth slows significantly in adulthood.
What is the World Record Muskie Fish?
The International Game Fish Association lists the world record Muskie at 67 lbs 8 oz. This astounding fish was caught in Wisconsin by Cal Johnson on July 24th, 1949.
What is the Lifespan of a Muskie
Due to the lack of predators after these fish, Muskies can live to a surprisingly old age. On average, they reach 18 years old – but Muskies have been reported at 30 years old as well.
Are Muskie Good Eating?
Not many people consider Muskie “good” eating. They’re rather bland, and comparable to Pike or (as some anglers insist) Bass. However, Muskie are an important fish when it comes to sustainable living. They provide a large amount of meat due to their size.
How Do You Hold a Muskie
One glimpse at a Muskie and you’ll probably be wondering how exactly you can keep hold of it. Muskie have strong, sharp jaws, and if you’ve caught a big one you need to know how to hold it!
Muskie get so large that you’ll want to hold them horizontally. Start by shaping one hand into a U, as if you’re getting ready to hold a taco. Slip your fingers under the gill plate, without holding the gills themselves. Squeeze your thumb (on the outside) and fingers (on the inside) together to get a good grip. Support the back end of the fish with your free hand.
What is a Tiger Muskie?
The Tiger Muskie is a hybrid between a Muskie and Northern Pike. These hybrids don’t have the ability to procreate, so they’re created artificially. Tiger Muskies grow quickly, but don’t live long.
Is a Muskie the same as a Pike?
A Muskie is a part of the Pike family, so it is technically the same as a Pike. However, most people referring to “Pike” are actually referring to the species Northern Pike, which is related to the Muskie, but not the same.
A quick way to tell Muskie and Northern Pikes apart is to check the sensory pores on the underside of the jaw. Muskies have 7+ pores on each side and Northern Pike have 6 at the most.
Did this fish blow your mind? We hope so! If you’re looking for a fun fight and a trophy fish to show off, check out some Muskie territory. Happy fishing!