Muskellunge, Esox masquinongy

{muskie, musky}

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Distribution :

map

Description :

The muskellunge is long and somewhat laterally compressed.  Its head is large and long duck bill-like mouth with many sharp teeth.  The anal and dorsal fins are set far back on the body and the caudal is forked.  The colour of musky can vary dependant on life stage and location, but is generally dark markings on a lighter green to brown.  Young musky can closely resemble chain pickerel having a chain-like pattern on a lighter background.  Adults can have dark bars or spots on a lighter background.  Musky differ from the chain pickerel in that they usually only have scales on the upper half of the cheeks and opercula and they lack the dark line underneath the eye.  Also the musky has 6 - 9 mandibular pores on each side.  Muskellunge, being the largest member of the pike family, can grow to large sizes, averaging 28 - 48 inches and weighing in at 5 - 36 pounds.

Biology:

Found in shallow warm waters of lakes and rivers among vegetation, rocks, logs, and other structures.  The musky is a lie and wait predator consuming almost anything that can fit into its mouth which crosses its path.  The main portion of their diet comes from fishes like suckers, perch, alewife, and sunfish.  They have also been known to eat mice, waterfowl, and frogs.  The muskellunge spawns during the spring (April - May) in shallow vegetated waters.  The nonadhesive eggs are spread over the substrate and vegetation randomly.  The eggs hatch in 10 - 14 days and by November can grow to 10 - 12 inches

Similar Species:

Chain Pickerel