#SundayFishSketch: Muskellunge

This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!


Meet the Muskellunge

The Muskellunge, or Muskie, is the largest member of the pike family, and just a large fish all around. Their common name comes from the Ojibwa word maashkinoozhe, which translates to “ugly pike”. They are quick moving ambush predators who spend much of their time waiting in the weeds, ready for attack, with an elongated body, flat head, and fins all positioned toward the rear of the body. Muskies are around 36 inches in length on average and weigh up to around 35 pounds. Their coloration is a typically a brown or green with a silvery-white underbelly and dark splotches on the sides.

Habitat

They prefer clear waters where they spend most of their time along the edges of weeds, rocks, and outcrops. Muskellunge are found in some lakes and large rivers across northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and northern Michigan and elsewhere throughout the Great Lakes region.

Behavior and Diet

Muskies are ambush predators who move quickly through the water with fluidity and precision, attacking and swallowing their prey headfirst. If it is present and smaller than they are, it’s pretty much fair game as a meal—and not just fish. Muskies will eat frogs, waterfowl, and occasionally small mammals swimming along the surface. They have huge stomachs that can accommodate meals up to 2/3 of their total body length, though meals of that size aren’t common. Muskellunge are occasionally social and will sometimes form schools with specific territories of which they will patrol. In mid to late spring, they gather to spawn in shallow areas with plenty of vegetation and a sandy bottom to keep their eggs and eventual fry protected.

 

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