Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), large, predaceous, soft-rayed freshwater fish occurring naturally only in eastern North America. Muskellunge prefer clean, cool, weedy waters. In Canada, they occur from Québec to eastern Manitoba. Other common names include musky, lunge and maskinonge.

Description

The largest member of the pike family (Esocidae), it has an oval body and a duck-billed snout with large teeth. The single dorsal fin, anal fin and caudal fin are close together. Muskellunge are distinguished by a pattern of dark markings on a light background, 6-10 pores on the underside of each lower jaw and the absence of scales from lower portions of cheeks and gill covers. Although individuals exceeding 1.8 m and 45 kg were once known, most modern specimens are much smaller (70-120 cm, 3-16 kg).

Significance of Fishery

One of the most prized Canadian fishes, it is sought for its aerial acrobatics and hard fight, and also because anglers hope to establish a new record by catching one exceeding 32 kg.