Freshwater Fish Species
The Pike family species
Saltwater Fish Species
A Muskellunge fish, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
Muskellunge or Muskie, also called Musky, are the biggest freshwater predatory fish that are extremely aggressive and hard fighting. The price of catching this challenging fish worth it. A combination of understanding the fish, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
A Muskellunge - Esox Masquinongy, also known as a Muskelunge, Muscallonge, Milliganong, or Maskinonge, Muskie or Musky, is a large, quite unusual freshwater fish of North America, the largest member of the Pike family. They are found in big lakes and large rivers from Northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota through the Great Lakes region, South to Georgia, North to Quebec and Ontario lake in Canada, throughout the upper Mississippi valley, in the Tennessee River valley, in the Red River drainage of the Hudson Bay basin.
The muskellunge or muskie is a long sleek fish built for short bursts of high speed. They have an elongate body, flat head and dorsal, pelvic and anal fins set far back on the body. The large jaws are very powerful and filled with long razor-sharp teeth. The top of the mouth is full of extra pads of fascinating teeth. A muskie have 6-9 sensory pores under the lower jaw per side (Northern Pike have maximum 6). The lobes of the tail fin come to a sharper point (Northern Pike have generally rounded).
Muskies have no scales on the lower half of the operculum. Muskies are light colored in silver, light green or light brown and usually having dark bars running up and down their long bodies. The back of the adult muskie is olive bronze shading to bronze on the sides. The body color is overlaid by dark spots. It may be barred, marked, or have no spots at all, but any markings that do arise will be darker then the body’s background. The Females grow faster and live longer than males. Individuals have weighed in at more than 100 pounds and exceeded 6 feet in length! The average adult size is an impressive 28-48 inches long with a weight of 5-36 pounds.
The muskellunge prefer clear waters where they hide between weed edges, rocks or other structures to rest before praying. A fish forms two distinct home ranges during a summer: a smaller shallow range with warmer water and a deeper one with cooler water. A musky will constantly patrol their ranges looking for available food depending on water conditions and water temperature. Muskies will hide in water weeds and other under water reed beds and attack whatever comes close enough to them to eat. It seldom leaves cover, and prefers shallow, heavily vegetated waters not deeper than 40 ft., usually beside rocky shore in slow moving rivers and streams.
Muskies prey upon anything that fits in the mouth. Muskies will attempt to take their prey head-first, sometimes in a single gulp with their large mouth full of large and hair-like teeth. They may take prey items that are up to one third of their length. In the spring when their metabolism is slower, they prefer smaller bait and in fall prior to winter they prefer large bait. Muskie live on fish like perch, suckers,
sunfishes and probably any other fish available in its habitat. They are speculator feeders; eat greedily swimming frogs, birds on a water, crayfish, ducklings, snakes, muskrats, mice and other small mammals. Muskie feeding peaks at water temperatures in the mid-60s and drops off as temperatures reach the mid-80s.
Muskie are territorial; they stay within a relatively small area which they patrol. Muskie hide on the edge of structure where they can ambush prey. Points flanked by weeds or brush are prime locations. Logs or trees that extend into the water are also important. In the spring, when panfish spawn in shallow water, muskie can be found nearby, often just a few feet from shore. During the summer and fall muskie are more likely to be found on the open-water side of structure that extends out into the lake.
The muskie spawns in early spring, during April or May with a temperature of 48 to 59°F, shortly after the ice has melted, about two weeks later than the
Northern Pike. Spawning may last from five to ten days and occurs mainly at night. Eggs are laid among heavy vegetation, near aquatic vegetation, debris, and leaf litter over a period of a few days in water only 15-20 inches deep. Males arrived first to establish dominance over a territory. Then the huge female is taken care of well by the male which is smaller than she is. A 40-pound female can produce more than 200,000 eggs.
They typically spawn twice, the second time approximately 2 weeks after the first time. The eggs are broadcast over a fairly large area and settle to the bottom. No parental care is given. Surviving eggs will hatch in twelve to fifteen days. One the young hatch they stay hidden in the weedy shallows out of reach of their hungry parents. At first, muskies grow very rapidly reaching approximately twelve inches by the end of their first growing season, twenty-four inches by the end of the second, and thirty inches by the end of their third. This separation of spawning areas apparently prevents northern pike fingerlings from preying on newly hatched muskie fry. In other situation, late-spawning northern pike are active spawning with muskie, producing the hybrid offspring called a Tiger Muskietiger muskie.
Effective methods for catching this hard fighting fish include bait casting and trolling. By trolling you can cover much more area and put the lure near more fish, the accuracy of lure or bait presentation is significantly less with this method. Muskies follow lures mostly before they strike, and it is difficult to see what will be next and take the right action. Cast right against the brush, and then swim your lure back, try to cross the area where a muskie could hide. Fish that are following a casting lure are easily detected, and after it located, they can be fished for. But muskie have been called the fish of ten thousand casts, it is really hard work and the price of catching this challenging fish worth it. The fish is a very speedy swimmer but are not very maneuverable. Muskies often jump from the water trying to escape using stunning acrobatic displays.
Muskie and tiger muskie are most likely caught when the water temperature nears 70°F, in late June or early July and in late September or early October. The best time of the day to fish is when fish are most active. It is in the early morning from sunrise during 2 hours and in the late evening 1 hour before sunset.
Either you troll or cast, better to use heavy duty or medium-heavy graphite bait-casting rod, from 5 to 7 feet in length. Graphite material is preferred because it is lighter in weight, which causes less hand fatigue, and it is more sensitive and flexible. Monofilament line or braided line of 20 to 40 pound-test any color. The line must be fitted with a solid steel leader because both muskie and tiger muskie have razor sharp teeth and many sharp bones around their mouth and jaws that can easily cut the line while fighting. You can use large crank-baits imitating suckers and fallfish, bucktail spinner-baits and jerk-baits lures for muskie fishing. Some advice is to use smaller lures in spring or during cold weather and larger lures in fall or the heat of summer.
Great rods for Muskie fishing are:
11ft Telescopic Casting Carbon Rod
18ft Telescopic Spinning Rod
12ft Telescopic Casting Light Rod