The Muskie is one of the largest and most elusive fish that swims in Minnesota waters. A popular fish to target the muskie can be quite a challenge for anglers. They are light colored and usually have dark bars running up and down their long bodies. Muskies are usually silver, light green or light brown. Muskies often times are mistaken for Northern Pike. The foolproof way of telling the two apart lies in the pores located on the underside of the jaw bone. A muskie will have 6 or more whereas a Northern Pike will have 5 or fewer.
In Minnesota there is also a version of the muskellunge, named the Tiger Muskie. It is a sterile hybrid of the Northern Pike and Muskie and is stocked in a lot of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Area lakes. The tiger muskie will be light in color with dark markings as a muskie is but will have rounded tail fins like a northern pike.
Muskies tend to like clear water with weed edges, rock and other structure that they can hide behind as they rest. In the summer months they tend to have two different home bases one in shallow warmer water and the other in deep cooler water. The fish is territorial and will stay in the small areas that they patrol. When spawning muskies look for undisturbed shoreline and spawn in about 3 feet of water as it holds the ideal temperature.
What They Eat
Muskies prefer to eat soft flesh fish like suckers, perch, minnows, and smelt making up about 95-98% of their diet. They are a natural predator and like most predators are opportunists willing to eat anything that fits in to their mouths such as swimming frogs, crayfish, and ducklings. They will wait in the weeds and as prey comes near will lunge forward to clamp their tooth-lined jaws on to the pray. They will try to grab it head first then gulp down the stunned or dead victim head first.
Methods for Fishing Muskie
The two methods used most often to catch muskies are trolling and casting. Trolling allows a fisherman to cover a large amount of water and it doesn’t count on lure presentation as much. Most muskies will follow a lure before they make a strike. The downfall of trolling is that it is hard to see if the fish is following the bait therefore making it tough to take any action.
The other method most used is casting. Most fisherman will cast out near brush and swim the bait back hoping to cross the path of a waiting muskie. Casting for this elusive fish is tough work and people refer to it as the “fish of ten thousand casts” but one trophy muskie and all of those casts are worth it!