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MUSKELLUNGE

At-a-Glance

  • Scientific Name: Esox masquinongy
  • Found in Illinois: Statewide
  • State Average: 30"
  • State Record: 38lbs/8oz (2002)
  • Best Lures: minnows, jerk baits, jigs, crank baits, spoons, and spinners
  • Top 3 Lakes (based on average size): Kinkaid, Fox Chain, Shelbyville
  • Top 3 Rivers (based on average size): Fox, ,

Angling Tips:

The two methods used when fishing for muskie are trolling and casting. Whether you troll or cast, the preferred rod and reel combination is a heavy-duty graphite model bait-casting rod with 20–40 pound-test monofilament. A steel leader is essential due to a muskie's large, sharp teeth that can cut or fray the line while fighting. Most popular lures include crank-baits, spinner-baits and jerk-baits. These lures come in a variety of color patterns and experienced muskie anglers have their own preferences on which pattern works best.

Muskie are often called the fish of ten thousand casts, and heaving the larger lures can take a toll on the angler's arm muscles! Muskies often follow most lures before they strike, so it is best not to rush retrieval and to watch the lure as it comes closer to the boat.

Habitat: Muskellunge (or muskie) prefer clear waters with sufficient structure, such as weed edges, rock outcroppings, or tree stumps, where they lurk to ambush their prey. They can be found in clear lakes with sufficient vegetation; quiet pools and backwaters of creeks; and small to large rivers.

Feeding and Habits: Muskie are mostly piscivorous, meaning their diet consists mainly of other fish, and are considered apex predators. Despite eating mainly fish, muskie have been known to eat crayfish, frogs, ducklings, snakes, mice, small muskrats, and other small mammals.

Reproduction: Spawning for muskellunge begins in the mid to late spring in shallow, vegetated areas with a rocky or sandy bottom. Unlike some fish species, muskellunge do not build nests. Instead, the eggs the female lays (upwards of 200,000) are adhesive and will stick to vegetation and substrate. After fertilization by the male, the eggs are abandoned by the adults, and they will eventually hatch within two weeks.

2013 Heidecke Muskie Survey Report