Muskellunge Species Breakdown
Scientific Name: Esox masquinongy
Also Known As: muskie, musky or lunge
Muskellunge are the largest member of the pike family. They are oxygen sensitive, so they can often be seen at the surface taking in oxygen rich water. They are tend to be in colder water due to cold water retaining more oxygen than warmer water.
The name muskellunge originated from the Ojibwe word maashkinoozhe, which means great fish, and maskinoše or mashkinonge, which means big pike. Other names including muscallonge, muskelunge, muskallonge, milliganong, maskinonge, muskinunge, maskalonge, and masquenongez were all used before settling on muskellunge.
There are four types of muskellunge fish-barred muskies, spotted muskie, tiger muskellunge, and clear muskies.
Muskellunge are one of the most sought-after freshwater game fish in North America. This species is a large predatory freshwater fish that are fast and aggressive, earning themselves the nicknames “the fish of a thousand casts” due to the challenge of catching them.
How to Identify a Muskie
You can identify a muskie by their light silver, green, and brown coloring with dark vertical spotted stripes on their sides. They have greenish-gold to golden brown coloring on their backs and upper sides. Their bellies are a cream to white color. The fins on a musky fish are pointed and usually a rush color.
Muskie have a long thin body with a flat head and mouth filled with sharp teeth. They have 6 to 9 pores on the lower jaw.
Muskellunge are commonly caught in the 2-4 ft long range and weigh 15-36 lbs. They can grow up to almost 70 lbs and reach lengths up to 60 inches long.
Musky will reach 7 to 13 inches by the end of their first summer. They have rapid growth until they reach five years old. Male muskellunge mature in 4 to 5 years when they reach 28 to 31 inches long. Females mature in 5 to 7 years when they reach 30 to 36 inches in length
Muskellunge Size Chart – Length to Weight Conversion
Where Muskie Are Found
Muskellunge are native to North America, including the St. Lawrence River, Hudson Bay, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi River basins.
Musky can be found in large lakes and rivers in the northern United States into Canada. They thrive in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Great Lakes Region, Canada, throughout the St Lawrence River drainage, through the Mississippi Valley, and can extend as far south as Chattanooga Tennessee River Valley into Georgia.
Muskies need colder water due to being very oxygen-sensitive. They prefer water temperatures between 33 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. They cant withstand temperatures much higher than 85 degrees Fahrenheit for very long.
They are solitary fish that tend to establish a small territory. During spawning season or when food supply is limited they will roam a little further.
Lifespan of a Musky
Muskies live to be about 15 years old on average but can reach up to 30 years old. Anglers are typically catching 5-15 year olds.
You can tell the general age of musky by referring to the table below.
Muskellunge Age Chart
|1 Year Old||9 – 13 inches|
|2 Years Old||13 – 18 inches|
|3 Years Old||18 – 24 inches|
|4 Years Old||24 – 27 inches|
|5 Years Old||27 – 33 inches|
|6 Years Old||33 – 34 inches|
|7 Years Old||34 – 36 inches|
|8 Years Old||36 – 40 inches|
|9 Years Old||40 – 43 inches|
|10 Years Old||43 – 45 inches|
|11 Years Old||45 – 47 inches|
|12 Years Old||47 – 49 inches|
|13 Years Old||49 – 51 inches|
|14 Years Old||51 – 52 inches|
|15 Years Old||52 – 54 inches|
|16 Years Old||54 – 56 inches|
|17 Years Old||56 – 58 inches|
|18 Years Old||60 – 62 inches|
|19 Years Old||62 – 64 inches|
|20 Years Old||64 – 66 inches|
Fishing For Muskellunge
Are Muskie hard to catch?
Muskie are difficult to catch. They are often refereed to as the “fish of a thousand casts.” They’re very smart are are tough to trick into biting. Their sharp teeth will often break your line if not using steel leader.
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What is the best depth for catching muskie?
Muskies generally stay in shallow water and rarely go more than 40 feet deep. The only time they go deeper is if the shallow waters get too warm or there is more food in the deeper areas.
What type of bait is best for musky?
My favorite bait to use when fishing for musky are bucktails. They put out a lot of flash and vibration from their blade that help draw in muskie from a greater distance.
Bucktails can be fished any speed and are perfect for beginners. You can’t really fish them wrong.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are muskie good eating?
Muskie can be good to eat, they taste very similar to bass. The taste will be highly dependent on the way you cook it. I like cooking mine in a beer batter mix.
What’s the difference between a muskie and a pike?
Pike and musky are not the same, although they are both members of the Esox genus. Musky have more pores under their jaws. Muskie have 6 or more, while pike have 5 or fewer pores.
What predators do muskie have?
Humans and large birds of prey such as eagles are the only threat to adult muskie. Young muskellunge howeve,r are in danger of becoming prey to northern pike, perch, bass, walleye, and even other muskellunge.