Muskellunge

What it looks like

  • very large, elongated fish (second-largest in Ontario)
  • dark vertical bands on light background, at times spotted or clear
  • green-gold, brown, grey or silver back
  • lighter sides
  • beige to white belly
  • partially scaled cheek and gill cover
  • 12-18 pores on underside of lower jaw
  • tips of tail fin more pointed than northern pike

Size

  • length: 71-137 centimetres (28-40 inches)
  • weight: 4-11 kilograms (8-23 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 29.5 kilograms (65.0 pounds)

Similar fish

How to tell the difference between Northern Pike and Muskellunge

Where it is found

Range of the muskellunge in Ontario

Range

  • from the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes basin, north to Lake Nipissing and west to Lake of the Woods
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers

Habitat

  • concealed among aquatic plants at the sides of channels
  • rocks and offshore shoals in lakes and rivers in summer

Angling tips

  • peak fishing periods are in June and in the fall when water temperatures begin to cool
  • medium-sized fish are plentiful in the summer months
  • bite all day, but morning and evening, when baitfish activity peaks, are best fishing times
  • province-wide size limits
  • use heavy casting tackle with long rods and strong line to catch this large, strong fighter
  • handle carefully, using a large net or cradle, pliers and gloves, to avoid injuring the fish or yourself

Common baits

  • large plugs, including large bass plugs
  • in-line spinners
  • spinnerbaits
  • surface lures
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