The muskellunge is the largest member of the Esocidae family of pike. Its name is derived from the native Indian word maskinonge, which has had numerous interpretations. Among them are deformed pike (mashk kinonge); ugly fish (mas kinonge); and large pike (mas kenosha). Unlike its blood relative, the northern pike, which has circumpolar distribution, the muskellunge is strictly a North American species, native to central and eastern North America. Although it is bodily pikelike and does occur in some of the same waters, it is vastly different in behavior and abundance (or lack thereof). It is one of the world's foremost gamefish by virtue of its size, strength, and predatory habits, and also by virtue of its contrary nature. The muskellunge is one of the most difficult freshwater sportfish of North America to willfully catch, and its habits and feeding behavior are as, or more, difficult to understand than those of any other freshwater species, including the most highly touted and lowly populated Atlantic salmon. Although a devoted coterie of anglers fervently prusues muskellunge, these enthusiasts are a fraction of the total angling populace, most of the rest of whom do not have the opportunity to catch this species or prefer more dependable or more abundant species. Although the range of the muskellunge has expanded through stocking efforts, this fish is abundant only in portions of its range. It has not been pursued commercially for many decades, but the number of large individuals has declined since the 1960's as a result of many environmental factors, especially habitat destruction and alteration that has affected spawning and predator-prey relationships, as well as the capture and killing by anglers of many of the largest individuals. The voluntary release of muskies has increased since the mid-1980's, and today muskie fishing is mostly a catch-and-release endeavor, especially among devotees of this fish. The flesh of a muskellunge is white and flaky and of excellent quality, but many anglers have never tasted it and have no need to because there are equally good table fish available among more abundant species like walleye and northern pike, one or both of which are usually found in the same environs as the muskie. Muskie is Wisconson's state fish.
Other names:> maskinonge, muskallonge, mascalonge,muskie, musky, 'lunge, silver muskellunge, Great Lakes muskellunge, Ohio muskellunge, Allegheny River muskellunge, spotted muskellunge, barred muskellunge, great muskellunge, great pike, blue pike, etc. Occasionally, it is referred to as "jack" in some areas.
Muskellunge are among the largest North American fish dwelling entirely in freshwater. Although reports suggest the existence of fish from 80 to 100 pounds that were netted, speared, or otherwise encountered ( including scales from an angler-lost St. Lawrence River fish that a biologist verified as being from a muskie that he estimated at 100 pounds), there is no hard verification of any muskie weighing more than 70 pounds. Even some of the known 60-pounders are subject to doubt. The former all-tackle world record and current New York State record muskellunge is a 69-pound, 15-ounce fish that was caught in 1957 in the St. Lawrence River. this fish has been disputed, however, and a slightly smaller and previously caught 69-pounder from Wisconsin has replaced it. Thus, 70 pounds stands as the maximum known size for muskellunge. Most muskellunge encountered by anglers weigh between 7 and 15 pounds and are less than 40 inches long; specimens exceeding 20 pounds are not uncommon, but it is extremely hard to come by one weighing more than 30 pounds. Very few in excess of 40 pounds were caught throughout the 1990s, and most released fish are not weighted; their size is measured by estimated or actual length in inches. They have been known to live between 25 and 30 years, and many fish live for 15 years, although the average life span is closer to 8 years.
The muskellunge is endemic to eastern North America. It is native to the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River basins from southern Quebec to the Red River of the North in Manitoba, and extends south in the Appalachians to Georgia and west to Iowa. It has been introduced (including the hybrid version) widely to Atlantic coast drainages as far as southern Virginia, and elsewhere in the southern and western United States, although its representation in many of these areas is minor.
Muskellunge live in medium to large rivers and in lakes of all sizes, although their preferred habitat is cool waters with large and small basins or both deep and shallow areas. They are found in waters no more than 75 acres in size, as well as in enormous waters like Lake of the Woods, Ontario; LAKE ST.CLAIR, Michigan; or the St. Lawence River. They rarely venture far from cover and favor shallow, heavily vegetated waters less than 40 feet deep, but they sometimes inhabit deep water that lacks vegetation but offers ample prey.
h2o,---says whewww hope this passes Bob