With a set of teeth that could rival a T-Rex, (left), the mighty muskellunge, (esox masquinongy), that swim in our local waters are an apex predator that has remained virtually unchanged for millions of years. These fish can live to be 25 years old and reach up to 60" in length. This amazing fish has endured and remains today as one of the most sought after freshwater sport fish in North America.
We are very lucky to have naturally reproducing muskellunge in our local waterways. Unfortunately the general public has little knowledge of this fish and its history. They may see a story in the paper every once in a while about a large fish that an angler catches. People are often surprised and amazed that something that big is swimming in the local rivers. All too often these stories show the lucky angler holding the dead fish up in their driveway or backyard. Sometimes the angler will get the fish mounted by a taxidermist but it's very expensive. Sadly the fish will often end up in the garbage or otherwise discarded sometimes even as fertilizer.
A fiberglass replica can be made of any fish and will last longer than a skin mount of the actual fish. All that is required is a few photos and an accurate measurement of the total length and girth of the fish. Releasing the fish helps to ensure the survival of the resource as it can spawn again and another lucky angler may get to catch it. Ask Ottawa's Dale MacNair how it feels to let a giant muskie swim away. He was lucky enough to catch and release a giant 57" x 33" monster last year. (right with his replica)
A case of mistaken identity... Sometimes people will catch a muskie and mistake it for a large northern pike not realizing it's a muskie. It is very important that anglers know the difference between pike and muskellunge. Size limits are in place to ensure that muskellunge can reach maturity and spawn at around 5 - 7 years old. It is illegal to harvest a muskie smaller than the minimum size limit. Anglers are strongly encouraged to check the fishing regulations for the size limits on the water they are fishing. Muskellunge should not be eaten as the "Ontario Guide to Eating Sport Fish" recommends not keeping any muskellunge for consumption due to a buildup of toxins absorbed from smaller fish that they eat.
Dispelling some myths... Muskies are eating all the walleye... There have been reports of people killing muskellunge lately because they blame them for the declining walleye fishery. While a curious muskie may chase a walleye being reeled in by an angler out of interest, studies have shown that their preferred food is soft rayed forage such as suckers, perch, minnows and catfish. Hooks will rust out... Hooks really don't rust out, even in saltwater. Please fish responsibly and use proper strength line and equipment to land a potential 40lb fish and avoid break-offs. Never allow a muskie to swallow a sucker or other live bait. Swallow rigs cause tears in the stomach tissue and internal organs leaving the fish to slowly die of infection. Always set the hook immediately if you are using live bait. Please do your part to help maintain the wild muskellunge population. Handle any muskellunge you catch carefully and practice Catch and Release.
Muskies Canada Inc. is a small non-profit group of conservation minded anglers. They have worked for 30 years to educate the angling public about muskellunge and the need to practice catch and release to help protect the resource. Muskies Canada members work with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to support research and stocking efforts to restore lost populations, and to preserve the existing wild muskellunge population. They are continuing their efforts to educate the public with "Know The Difference" signs (left), displayed at launch facilities and resorts, identifying the difference between Muskellunge and Northern Pike.
For more information about the KTD project see Know The Difference