The muskellunge (also called a muskie) is the uncommon but highly sought cousin of the northern pike. Its large size and ferocity when it finally decides to take a lure attracts passionate anglers.
The top aquatic predator in Minnesota, muskies lie in wait amid in weed beds to ambush fish, along with the occasional frog or duckling. Because some muskellunge reach very large size they may eat even larger prey, including muskrats. Most research has shown that muskies tend to utilize the most abundant prey species available in a body of water and that walleyes are not an important food for them.
Muskies are Minnesota natives and still patrol the Mississippi River. Their numbers are likely higher today, due to supplemental stocking by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Key ID Features: Muskellunge are missile-shaped predators with long flat heads and tooth-filled jaws. They can be distinguished from the similar (but generally smaller) northern pike by the shape of the tail and coloration. Muskies have pointed lobes on their forked tails (Pike have rounded lobes) and they are covered with dark marks on a light background (pike have light marks on a dark background). They average 30-42 inches in length, ,but can be much larger.
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Last updated: November 22, 2019