Muskellunge, a North American freshwater game fish. It is the largest member of the pike family. The fish is also called muskallunge, maskinonge, muskalonge, and maskalonge, but to fishermen it is known as the “muskie.” The name is thought to be of Algonquian origin, meaning “big fish.” Muskies are found in rivers and lakes throughout much of the Great Lakes drainage basin, the St. Lawrence River valley, and the drainage basins of the upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
The muskie grows to a length of about 60 inches (1.5 m) and can attain a weight of about 70 pounds (32 kg). Muskies are golden-olive above, shading to lighter underparts. Some muskies have no markings; others have a series of vertical bars on the sides and spots on the tail; still others (without bars) have spots on the back, sides, and tail. The tapering, flattish head is armed with sharp teeth. The gill covers and lower cheeks are scaleless. The muskie feeds chiefly on other fish. Spawning takes place in mid-spring and a single female may lay more than 250,000 eggs in a season.
The muskie can be distinguished from the northern pike and from pickerels by the fact that only the upper half of its cheek has scales.
An excellent food fish and a savage fighter, the muskie is perhaps the most prized of all freshwater game fish. It is becoming scarce, however, even in remote Canadian lakes. The muskie is caught with a large spoon or plug attached to strong line by a wire leader to prevent the fish from cutting the line with its teeth.
The muskellunge is Esox masquinongy of the pike family, Esocidae.
For record catch, s table Fresh-water Fishing Records.