Muskellunge
Overview
A muskellunge also known as a muskelunge, muscallonge, milliganong, or maskinonge (and often abbreviated "muskie" or "musky"), is a large, relatively uncommon freshwater
Fresh Water
Fresh Water is the debut album by Australian rock and blues singer Alison McCallum, released in 1972. Rare for an Australian artist at the time, it came in a gatefold sleeve...

 fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. Muskellunge are the largest member of the pike family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

, Esocidae
Esox
Esox is a genus of freshwater fish, the only living genus in the family Esocidae — the esocids which were endemic to North America, Europe and Eurasia during the Paleogene through present.The type species is E. lucius, the northern pike...

. The name comes from the Ojibwa word maashkinoozhe, meaning "ugly pike", by way of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 masque allongé (modified from the Ojibwa word by folk etymology), "elongated face." The French common name is masquinongé or maskinongé.

Muskellunge are known by a wide variety of trivial name
Trivial name
In chemistry, a trivial name is a common name or vernacular name; it is a non-systematic name or non-scientific name. That is, the name is not recognised according to the rules of any formal system of nomenclature...

s including Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 muskellunge, Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 muskellunge, barred muskellunge, Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 pike, Allegheny River
Allegheny River
The Allegheny River is a principal tributary of the Ohio River; it is located in the Eastern United States. The Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River at the "Point" of Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

 pike, jack pike, unspotted muskellunge and the Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 muskellunge.
Muskellunge closely resemble other Esocids such as the northern pike
Northern Pike
The northern pike , is a species of carnivorous fish of the genus Esox...

 and American pickerel
American pickerel
The American pickerels are two subspecies of Esox americanus, a species of freshwater fish in the pike family of order Esociformes: the redfin pickerel, E. americanus americanus Gmelin, 1789, and the grass pickerel, E. americanus vermiculatus Lesueur, 1846.Both subspecies are native to North America...

 in both appearance and behavior.
Encyclopedia
A muskellunge also known as a muskelunge, muscallonge, milliganong, or maskinonge (and often abbreviated "muskie" or "musky"), is a large, relatively uncommon freshwater
Fresh Water
Fresh Water is the debut album by Australian rock and blues singer Alison McCallum, released in 1972. Rare for an Australian artist at the time, it came in a gatefold sleeve...

 fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. Muskellunge are the largest member of the pike family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

, Esocidae
Esox
Esox is a genus of freshwater fish, the only living genus in the family Esocidae — the esocids which were endemic to North America, Europe and Eurasia during the Paleogene through present.The type species is E. lucius, the northern pike...

. The name comes from the Ojibwa word maashkinoozhe, meaning "ugly pike", by way of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 masque allongé (modified from the Ojibwa word by folk etymology), "elongated face." The French common name is masquinongé or maskinongé.

Muskellunge are known by a wide variety of trivial name
Trivial name
In chemistry, a trivial name is a common name or vernacular name; it is a non-systematic name or non-scientific name. That is, the name is not recognised according to the rules of any formal system of nomenclature...

s including Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 muskellunge, Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 muskellunge, barred muskellunge, Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 pike, Allegheny River
Allegheny River
The Allegheny River is a principal tributary of the Ohio River; it is located in the Eastern United States. The Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River at the "Point" of Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

 pike, jack pike, unspotted muskellunge and the Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 muskellunge.

Description

Muskellunge closely resemble other Esocids such as the northern pike
Northern Pike
The northern pike , is a species of carnivorous fish of the genus Esox...

 and American pickerel
American pickerel
The American pickerels are two subspecies of Esox americanus, a species of freshwater fish in the pike family of order Esociformes: the redfin pickerel, E. americanus americanus Gmelin, 1789, and the grass pickerel, E. americanus vermiculatus Lesueur, 1846.Both subspecies are native to North America...

 in both appearance and behavior. Like other pikes, the body plan is typical of ambush predator
Ambush predator
Ambush predators or sit-and-wait predators are carnivorous animals that capture prey by stealth or cunning, not by speed or necessarily by strength. These organisms usually hide motionless and wait for prey to come within striking distance. They are often camouflaged, and may be solitary...

s with an elongate body, flat head and dorsal, pelvic and anal fins set far back on the body. Muskellunge are typically 28–48 in (0.7112–1.2 m) long and weigh 5–36 lb (2.3–16.3 kg), though some have reached up to 6 feet (1.8 m) and almost 70 pounds (31.8 kg). The fish are a light silver, brown or green with dark vertical stripes on the flank, which may tend to break up into spots. In some cases, markings may be absent altogether, especially in fish from turbid
Turbidity
Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by individual particles that are generally invisible to the naked eye, similar to smoke in air. The measurement of turbidity is a key test of water quality....

 waters. This is in contrast to northern pike which have dark bodies with light markings. A reliable method to distinguish the two similar species is by counting the sensory pores on the underside of the mandible
Mandible
The mandible pronunciation or inferior maxillary bone forms the lower jaw and holds the lower teeth in place...

. A muskie will have seven or more per side while the northern pike never has more than six. The lobes of the caudal (tail) fin in muskellunge come to a sharper point while those of northern pike are more generally rounded. In addition, unlike pike, muskies have no scales on the lower half of the operculum
Operculum (fish)
The operculum of a bony fish is the hard bony flap covering and protecting the gills. In most fish, the rear edge of the operculum roughly marks the division between the head and the body....

.

Habitat

Muskellunge are found in oligotrophic and mesotrophic lakes and large river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s from northern Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, northern Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 and northern Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 through the Great Lakes region, north into Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, throughout most of the St Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

 drainage and northward throughout the upper Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 valley, although the species also extends as far south as Chattanooga
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the US state of Tennessee , with a population of 169,887. It is the seat of Hamilton County...

 in the Tennessee River
Tennessee River
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

 valley. There is also a small population in the Broad River
Broad River (South Carolina)
The Broad River is a tidal channel, in Beaufort and Jasper County, South Carolina. The channel flows between mainland on the west and Port Royal and Parris Islands on the east. The Coosawhatchie River flows into the Broad River at the head. It joins Coosaw River channel Northeast and continues...

 in South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. Several North Georgia reservoirs also have healthy stocked populations of muskie. They are also found in the Red River
Red River of the North
The Red River is a North American river. Originating at the confluence of the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers in the United States, it flows northward through the Red River Valley and forms the border between the U.S. states of Minnesota and North Dakota before continuing into Manitoba, Canada...

 drainage of the Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay , sometimes called Hudson's Bay, is a large body of saltwater in northeastern Canada. It drains a very large area, about , that includes parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, most of Manitoba, southeastern Nunavut, as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota,...

 basin. They prefer clear waters where they lurk along weed edges, rock outcrops or other structures to rest. A fish forms two distinct home ranges in summer: a shallow range and a deeper one. The shallow range is generally much smaller than the deeper range due to shallow water heating up. A musky will continually patrol the ranges in search of available food in the appropriate conditions of water temperature.

Diet

Muskies prey upon anything that fits in the mouth. Most of the diet consists of fish but it also includes crayfish
Crayfish
Crayfish, crawfish, or crawdads – members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea – are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related...

, frog
Frog
Frogs are amphibians in the order Anura , formerly referred to as Salientia . Most frogs are characterized by a short body, webbed digits , protruding eyes and the absence of a tail...

s, duck
Duck
Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered...

lings, snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s, muskrat
Muskrat
The muskrat , the only species in genus Ondatra, is a medium-sized semi-aquatic rodent native to North America, and introduced in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands and is a very successful animal over a wide range of climates and habitats...

s, mice
Mouse
A mouse is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse . It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles...

, other small mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s, and small birds. The mouth is large with many long, needle-like teeth. Muskies will attempt to take their prey head-first, sometimes in a single gulp. They will take prey items that are up to 30% of their total length. In the spring, they tend to prefer smaller bait since their metabolism is slower, while large bait are preferred in fall as preparation for winter.

Length and weight

As muskellunge grow longer they increase in weight, but the relationship between length and weight is not linear. The relationship between them can be expressed by a power-law equation
Power law
A power law is a special kind of mathematical relationship between two quantities. When the frequency of an event varies as a power of some attribute of that event , the frequency is said to follow a power law. For instance, the number of cities having a certain population size is found to vary...

:

The exponent b is close to 3.0 for all species, and c is a constant that varies among species. For muskellunge, b = 3.325, higher than for many common species, and c = 0.000089 pounds/inch.

This equation implies that a 30 inches (76.2 cm) muskellunge will weigh about 8 pounds (3.6 kg), while a 40 inches (101.6 cm) muskellunge will weigh about 18 pounds (8.2 kg).

Behavior

Muskellunge are sometimes gregarious, forming small schools in distinct territories. They spawn in mid to late spring, somewhat later than northern pike, over shallow, vegetated areas. A rock or sand bottom is preferred for spawning so that the eggs do not sink into the mud and suffocate. The males arrive first and attempt to establish dominance over a territory. Spawning may last from five to ten days and occurs mainly at night. The zygote
Zygote
A zygote , or zygocyte, is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction. In multicellular organisms, it is the earliest developmental stage of the embryo...

s are negatively buoyant and slightly adhesive; they adhere to plants and the bottom of the lake. Soon afterward they are abandoned by the adults. Those embryo
Embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

s which are not eaten by fish, insects or crayfish hatch within two weeks. The larvae live on yolk until the mouth is fully developed, at which time they begin to feed on copepod
Copepod
Copepods are a group of small crustaceans found in the sea and nearly every freshwater habitat. Some species are planktonic , some are benthic , and some continental species may live in limno-terrestrial habitats and other wet terrestrial places, such as swamps, under leaf fall in wet forests,...

s and other zooplankton
Zooplankton
Zooplankton are heterotrophic plankton. Plankton are organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. The word "zooplankton" is derived from the Greek zoon , meaning "animal", and , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter"...

. They soon begin to prey upon fish. Juveniles will generally attain a length of 12 inches (30.5 cm) by November 7 of the first year.

Predators

Adult muskellunge are Apex predator
Apex predator
Apex predators are predators that have no predators of their own, residing at the top of their food chain. Zoologists define predation as the killing and consumption of another organism...

s where they occur naturally. Only humans pose a threat to an adult but juveniles are consumed by other muskies, northern pike, bass
Black bass
Micropterus , is a genus of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of order Perciformes. The type species is M. dolomieu, the smallmouth bass...

, and occasionally birds of prey. The musky's low reproductive rate and slow growth render populations highly vulnerable to overfishing
Overfishing
Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans....

. This has prompted some jurisdictions to institute artificial propagation programs in an attempt to maintain otherwise unsustainably high rates of angling effort and habitat destruction
Habitat destruction
Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms that previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity mainly for the purpose of...

.

Angling

Anglers
Angling
Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle" . The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. The hook itself...

 seek large muskies as trophies or for sport. The fish attain impressive swimming speeds but are not particularly maneuverable. The highest speed runs are usually fairly short, but they can be quite intense. The muskie can also do headshaking in an attempt to rid itself of the hook(s). Muskies are known for their strength and for their tendency to leap from the water in stunning acrobatic displays. A challenging fish to catch, the muskie has been called "the fish of ten thousand casts." Anglers tend to use smaller lures in spring or during cold front conditions and larger lures in fall or the heat of summer. The average lure is 7.9–12 in (20.1–30.5 cm) long, but longer lures of 14–26 in (35.6–66 cm) are not uncommon in the musky angler's arsenal. Anglers are strongly encouraged to practice catch and release
Catch and release
Catch and release is a practice within recreational fishing intended as a technique of conservation. After capture, the fish are unhooked and returned to the water before experiencing serious exhaustion or injury...

 when fishing for muskellunge due to their low population.

Subspecies and hybrids

Though interbreeding with other pike species can complicate the classification of some individuals, zoologist
Zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

s usually recognize from zero to three subspecies
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 of muskellunge.
  • The Great Lakes (spotted) muskellunge (Esox masquinongy masquinongy) is the most common variety in the Great Lakes basin and surrounding area. The spots on the body form oblique rows.
  • The Chautauqua muskellunge (E. m. ohioensis) is known from the Ohio River system, Chautauqua Lake
    Chautauqua Lake
    Chautauqua Lake is located entirely within Chautauqua County, New York, USA. The lake is approximately long and wide at its greatest width. The surface area is approximately 13,000 acres . The maximum depth is about 78 feet...

    , Lake Ontario
    Lake Ontario
    Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

    , and the St Lawrence River.
  • The clear or barred muskellunge (E. m. immaculatus) is most common in the inland lakes of Wisconsin, Minnesota, northwestern Ontario and southeastern Manitoba
    Manitoba
    Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

    .


The tiger muskellunge
Tiger muskellunge
The tiger muskellunge is a carnivorous fish and is the usually sterile, hybrid offspring of the true muskellunge and the northern pike . It lives in freshwater and its range extends to Canada, the Northeast and the Midwest parts of the United States. It grows quickly; in one study tiger muskie...

 (E. masquinongy x lucius or E. lucius x masquinongy) is a hybrid of the musky and northern pike. Hybrids are sterile although females sometimes unsuccessfully engage in spawning motions. Some hybrids are artificially produced and planted for anglers to catch. Tiger muskies grow faster than pure muskies, but do not attain the ultimate size of their pure cousins as the tiger muskie do not live as long. The body is often quite silvery and largely or entirely without spots but with indistinct longitudinal bands.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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