Muskellunge

MUSKELLUNGE RANGE IN ONTARIO

Map showing the distribution of muskellunge in Ontario

modified from: Mandrak and Crossman (1992)

 

 

Typical length: 71-137 centimetres (28-40 inches)


Typical weight: 3.7–10.7 kilograms (8–23 pounds)


Ontario record: 29.5 kilograms (65.0 pounds)

 

Similar fish: 

northern pike

 

Muskellunge

 

 

Key Identifying Characteristics:

 

  • Very large, elongated fish
  • Dark vertical bands on light background, at times spotted or clear
  • Back may be green-gold, brown, grey or silver; sides are lighter and belly is beige to white
  • Partially scaled cheek and gill cover
  • 12-18 pores on underside of lower jaw
  • Tips of tail fin more pointed than northern pike
  • Second largest fish in Ontario (after the lake sturgeon).  
  • Know the difference between northern pike and muskellunge.  Visit the Muskies Canada website  to view their "Know How to Tell the Difference" sign.

 

Distribution/Habitat:

 

  • The muskellunge (or muskie) is usually found concealed among aquatic plants at the sides of channels, or off rocks and offshore shoals in lakes and rivers in summer.
  • Less than one per cent of the world's fresh water is home to muskellunge and much of that water is in Ontario. This highly prized trophy fish ranges from the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes basin, north to Lake Nipissing and west to Lake of the Woods.

 

Angling Tips:

 

  • Peak periods occur in June and again in the fall when water temperatures begin to cool. However, the summer months produce substantial numbers of medium-sized muskellunge. Key fishing times include the morning and evening when baitfish activity peaks.
  • Because of its large size and fighting qualities, the muskellunge is one of Ontario's most renowned game fish. Heavy casting tackle with long rods and strong line is used because of the great strength of this fish.  
  • Size limits are in place across the province.
  • When landing and releasing muskellunge, care must be used when handling them to avoid injuries to the angler and the fish.  When fishing for muskie make sure you have the necessary gear to handle these fish.  A large net or cradle, pliers and gloves are important to ensure a successful release.


Common Baits:

 

  • Large plugs
  • In-line spinners
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Surface lures
  • Large bass plugs

 

 

 

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