MuskellungeOne of the largest and most elusive fish that swims in Minnesota, this apex aquatic predator is known as the "fish of 10,000 casts."

Muskies may indeed be elusive. But it is their low numbers in a lake – not craftiness – that makes them hard to catch. That's true in waters where they naturally occur and where DNR stocks them.

Many anglers are attracted to muskie because of their potential to get big. That same potential draws concern from others who believe the diets of bigger fish make fewer fish available to anglers. Despite the muskie's potential to attain large sizes, studies of predator diets and fish communities that contain muskie found muskie do not adversely impact gamefish populations.


  • Muskies are native to Minnesota lakes and rivers.
  • Muskies can be found in 102 lakes. Muskie were introduced to 48 of those lakes through DNR stocking.
  • Anglers can't keep a muskie unless it is at least 54 inches long.
  • Catch-and-release state record.
  • Certified weight state record.
  • Catch one yourself


Fish ID: Muskellunge and northern pike comparison

The foolproof way to tell a muskie from a northern pike is to count the pores on one side of the underside of the jaw. A muskie has six or more. A northern has five or fewer. Take a closer look or find out more in the fishing regulations fish identification guide.



Native muskies have darker markings (spots or bars) on a light background. That's the opposite of northern pike, which have light markings on a dark body. Muskies are silver, light green, or light brown. They look and behave much like northern pike.

Tiger muskellunge

Tiger Muskellunge

Rounded tail fins identify the tiger muskie, a sterile hybrid of the northern pike and the muskie that is stocked in several heavily fished lakes in the Twin Cities. Like native muskie, this fish has dark markings on a light background with the key difference its tail fins.

Feeding myths

Extensive research on muskies and their feeding habits show that muskies do not eat all the fish in the lake, including walleye.

In fact, the chart below details research showing pike and largemouth bass consumed more food than muskies in Minnesota lakes.

LakeCountySpeciesConsumption 1
Bald EagleRamseyNorthern pike 
  Largemouth bass 
North StarItascaNorthern pike 
  Largemouth bass 
ShamineauMorrisonNorthern pike 
  Largemouth bass 
1 Consumption shows the kilograms each listed species consumed in the listed lake per hectare in one year.

Comparing how much muskie, walleye, pike and largemouth bass eat

Key findings from a study by Minnesota researchers Ahrenstorff, T.D., Herwig, B.R., Glade, K.C., Hafs, A.W., and Zimmer, K.D. Manuscript in prep. Comparing consumption patterns of Muskellunge, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Largemouth Bass populations.

In addition, here's a look at two recent studies from Minnesota DNR fisheries researchers that explore the role of muskies within the fish communities in which they live:

Tell us what you think

Share your thoughts on how the DNR manages muskies in Minnesota. Your feedback will help us develop the next muskie long range plan.

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