Can You Eat Muskie – Muskie fish (also known as Muskellunge) is a species that lives in freshwater. The continent of North America has large water bodies, including lakes and riverbeds. Muskies are common. These fish can eat fish that are nearly 30 percent smaller than their own bodies. It is possible to eat Muskie. Of course you can. This answer comes with a caveat. You need to be able to eat Muskie. Find out below if you can eat Muskie.
These long-legged species of fish are often delicious because they have a sleek appearance and can be savoured with great taste. Muskies can be as heavy as 36 pounds, while smaller Muskies are around 20 pounds. Muskies up to 70 pounds can be found in the largest sizes. Muskies are toxic because they are one of the most dangerous predators in lakes. Muskies can be toxic to humans because they eat other toxic fish from rivers and keep the toxins for a long time. If you’re pregnant or under 15, it is not recommended for consumption. A Muskie’s mercury level can be dangerously high, making it unsafe to consume.
Many people recommend that you catch and release a Muskie. However, it can be difficult to catch large fish like this one. Many people choose to keep these magnificent animals and catch them. A Muskie is a huge freshwater fish that can be caught by a fisherman. People are often amazed at its size. Before you make a decision to eat a Muskie you should consider several factors.
In some parts, the Muskie can be quite rare. When you first encounter this relative of pike, the first thing that comes to your mind is “Can you eat the muskie fish?”
This question is difficult to answer. It would be easy to assume that muskies are very similar to pike because they are so closely related. But that is not the truth. While there are many similarities between the two, there are also some key differences.
Let’s now take a look at safety and edibility of the muskie.
Can You Eat Muskie Fish?
Muskies can be eaten when it comes to their edibility. Muskies are very similar to pike, which is because they are part of the pike species. Muskies are also the largest species of pike in the family.
It seems that muskies aren’t as delicious as pikes, and it tastes more like bass. It has a milder flavor and is a very bony fish. Like pike fish, muskies also have Y-shaped bone that makes cleaning and filling difficult.
Muskie can be difficult to catch as it is a rare fish. You will probably encounter more pike fish while angling than muskie fish. You shouldn’t worry about muskie if you are fishing for food.
What should you do if you catch muskie fish?
There are two choices: you either keep it or you let it go back into the sea. Your decision will not be based on your personal preference. There are objective factors that could influence your decision.
The muskie is a long, powerful, and sleek creature. The muskie is shaped like a torpedo and has only one business end: its mouth and teeth. The tail of this predator can reach incredible speeds thanks to its powerful tail and fins located at the rear.
The muskie is a brownish-green color with distinct stripes and spots. It hides well near the vegetation where it hunts. It’s too late by the time prey sees the muskie!
Muskies are the largest members of the pike family and are considered to be apex predators. The average muskie is two- to four feet long and weighs in at between 15 to 36 pounds. Anglers have caught muskies up to six feet in length and 70 pounds, with the trophy fish being females.
But muskie grow slowly. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources states that musky average about 11 inches in length after their first year of existence, reach 34 inches in year 7, 40 in year 9 and 50 in age 17. Females usually grow faster than their male counterparts.
Due to their slow growth and heavy losses to fish and birds in the first year, mature muskies are difficult to replace. These fish are highly regulated in the areas where they are found. They have long minimum lengths and are prohibited from trolling.
This has resulted in a dramatic increase of 45+ inch muskies being caught every year in Wisconsin. It is a clear sign that sustainable fishing requires careful management.
Muskies are voracious predators and can eat anything that fits in their large mouths. They can even swallow prey up half their length. You can see that muskie are a top predator once they reach adulthood. They will eat any kind of fish, including other muskies and birds.
They hunt in ambush and remain motionless, much like pike, before moving toward their prey at a terrifying speed.
They are sight predators that have vision that is better than most prey items. They prefer clear water and lots of vegetation. This provides muskies with much-needed camouflage and encourages prey.
Muskies often school in small hunting groups, unlike some apex predators.
Mercury and Toxicity
Unfortunately, muskies, being an apex predator tend to retain mercury in their bodies.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has some very strict guidelines regarding consumption. The Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin recommends that muskellunge is not be consumed by pregnant women or women planning to have children. The mercury level of muskellunge 40 [inches] or larger was just over 1 ug/g, which is considered dangerous for children and pregnant women. Men and women who are not planning to have children are advised to consume no more than one meal per month from Green Bay or the lower Fox River.
Are you a Catch and Release, or a Keeper?
We’ve already discussed muskie reproduction and growth. It’s clear that they are especially vulnerable to being overfished. As we have already mentioned, their native waters are tightly regulated and protected by size and bag limits, as well legal restrictions.
However, muskies have been introduced into non-native waters throughout the US and can pose a threat to native species in states like Maine. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife states that although musky fisheries can be very vulnerable to overexploitation, they are not actively managed and do not receive any protection provided by bag limits or length limits. This is because “the presence of large predators will jeopardize traditional fisheries of wild brook trout and landlocked Salmon, especially if they establish in other waterways within the region.”
What should you do then?
Catch and release fishing is encouraged in areas where muskies are native and controlled. If muskies have been introduced to an area, and they are not regulated, you can keep your catch as you help to protect native species from this invasive predator.
Muskie look very much like other members of Esocidae’s family, such as pike. Muskie are similar to pike in that their flesh is divided by Y-shaped bone which makes it difficult to fillet.
If you have worked with pike before, you will already know the basics. If you don’t know what to do, this tutorial will show you how.
Mercury in muskie fish
Mercury is the first factor.
Fish, particularly predatory fish, are very susceptible to mercury contamination. Water gets contaminated with mercury due to environmentally-unfriendly human activities such as coal burning or iron mining. The mercury is then absorbed into the water by fish.
Predator fish eat other fish so the mercury levels in their bodies is much higher. Predator fish are more likely to have high mercury levels because of the mercury in the fish they eat.
Sharks, for example, contain 0.979 parts per million of mercury on average, while commonly consumed fish contain much less – trout contains just 0.071 parts per million, lobsters from 0.093 to 0.166, black bass 0.167, and tuna from 0.126 (canned light) to 0.689 (bigeye).
Muskie fish is an ex-predator in its natural habitat and will eat any fish smaller than it. Muskie fish are an apex predator and have no natural predators. They only have birds of prey, humans, and larger fish as juveniles.
Because muskie fish are predatory, their mercury levels are higher than those of other fish. The US Food & Drug Administration does not provide any specific information on mercury levels in muskie fish in its 1990-2010 monitoring report or in the commercial fish & seafood report.
However, some state advisories provide more detailed information. For example, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommends consuming no more than 1 meal of muskie fish per month.
Besides, the WDNR discourages women who intend to have children and children aged under 15 from eating muskie fish.
According to the WDNR, mercury levels in muskies 40 inches and longer are “just above 1 ug/g”, which is 1 microgram per gram on average. 1 microgram equals 1 part per million. This means that muskies are just as mercury-contaminated than sharks. Although this number is only applicable to Wisconsin muskies, it’s still very high.
The FDA fish eating advisory actually suggests that you avoid consuming fish like sharks. This advice could also be applicable to muskie fish.
The WDNR recommendations can be a great place to start. However, we recommend that you also check the state advisories. Although the recommendations might vary from one area to another, there is one thing that is certain: muskie fish can be high in mercury so you need to be careful.
Scarce muskie populations
Remember that muskie fish can be very rare in certain areas. States have daily bag limits that limit the amount of fish you can catch each day. States may also impose minimum length requirements.
The daily bag limit in Wisconsin is 1. This is except for Yellowstone Lake, which has a daily bag limit of 0 and Escanaba Lake, where there is no daily bag limit. Yellowstone Lake has an excessively high daily bag limit, and Yellowstone Lake has one. This is because the muskie fish population there is endangered.
In Wisconsin, the minimum length for muskies is 40 inches. This means that you cannot catch any muskie less than 40 inches. This rule is applicable to 94% of Wisconsin’s waters.
40 inches is quite a large size considering that other fish species have minimum limits of around 10 inches, and some don’t have any minimum limits at all.
Slow growth rates of muskies are the reason for this high minimum length. According to the WDNR guide, muskies grow approximately 11 inches per year, 34 inches over 7 years, 40 inches over 9 years, 50 inches over 17 years.
However, other states may not place limits on the length of muskie fish. For example, in Maine, muskie fisheries are not actively managed. Because muskies are not native to Maine and because they are predatory they can cause significant damage to native fish populations.
Some states allow anglers to catch muskies by lifting fishing limits.
All of this should be enough to convince you:
- If your local regulations aren’t strict, keep the caught muskies.
- If there are strict limits, you can practice catch-and-release fishing for muskies.
How to cook Muskie Fish
Muskie fish is similar to other fish in terms of how it’s cooked. It can be fried on a skillet, grilled, baked, or used in your favorite fishing recipes. The taste of muskie fish may not be the same as that in pike so the dishes made with it might be slightly different.
Pan-fried muskie Fish
The easiest way to cook muskie fish on a skillet is to fry it in a pan. These ingredients will make a simple pan-fried muskie:
- Muskie fish
- Butter or oil.
- Salt, pepper, or any other seasoning ingredients that you like.
Here are the steps to fry:
- Clean and fillet the muskie. You should have no problems with muskie if you have ever filledeted pike. They are very similar. Otherwise, check this video guide.
- Place the fish fillets in a bowl. Season them with lemon juice and other seasonings.
- Allow the fish to marinate for approximately 1 hour.
- Place butter or oil in a saucepan on medium heat
- Place the fish in a pan and fry each side for about 7-8 minutes.
Pecan-nut crusted muskie fillets
This recipe is a bit more complicated, but you will have more options to manage the dish’s flavor.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this dish’s base recipe.
- 2 lb. of muskie fillets
- 1 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 zested, juicing lemon
- 1 small minced shallot
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- Salt and paper are to be tasted.
Here’s how you can prepare it:
- In a bowl, combine the pecans and minced shallot with the melted butter, white wines, white wine, and juice of one lemon. Salt and pepper to taste. Combine everything.
- Mix the mixture and roll the fish fillets.
- Prepare a large frying skillet. Place the peanut oil in the pan, and heat it on medium-high heat.
- Fry the fillets in the skillet for 3-4 minutes. The fish is ready when it turns golden brown.
- Serve the fish with a sauce you choose, such as butter dipping sauce. a butter dipping sauce.
Three recipes for cooking muskies
Fried Muskie Croquettes
This recipe was originally meant for alligator gar. I have modified it. Nicole Woodard provided the original recipe. This Louisiana classic is sure to please, with muskie being the main ingredient.
- 4 cups minced muskie flesh pounds
- 5 medium-sized red potatoes, approximately 3 cups mashed
- Finely chopped, 2/3 cup green onions
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- Tony Chachere’s seasonings, to taste
- Zatarain’s Louisiana Fish Fry
- Canola oil
- Plastic food storage container or paper bag with a tight-sealing lid
- Thermostat for freezing
Pulse the muskies in a food processor until it is well-miscused but not too crumbly. Mix the fish, onion, mashed potatoes and seasoning in a large bowl until well combined.
Make small patties of the mixture, about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 in thick.
Place one-inch of canola oil in the bottom of a large skillet or pot. Heat on medium heat. Once the oil reaches 350 degrees, add a little more than 1/2 cup Zatarain’s Louisiana Fish Fry to a medium-sized paper bag or Tupperware plastic storage container with a lid. Toss a few croquettes at once and coat with the fish fry.
Once the oil has reached the desired cooking temperature, add only a few croquettes to each pan. Ensure that you continue to monitor oil temperature as the fish is being cooked. It will drop slightly, but it will return to normal soon.
Cook until golden brown, turning fish once. The finished croquettes can be removed and cooled on a cookie sheet or oven rack.
Serve with tartar sauce, lemon wedges, cocktail sauce or ketchup.
Andrew Zimmern’s Muskie Cakes
When muskie is dipped into butter, it can be mistaken for crab or lobster. It can be used as a substitute for crab in many recipes. This simple recipe is adapted from Zimmern’s crab cakes recipe.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- Pre-cooked 1 lb muskie fillets. Cut into small pieces (instructions are below).
- 20 finely crushed saltine crackers
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- For serving, lemon wedges
Add one pound of muskie filets to a colander. Cover with aluminum foil. Cover the colander with aluminum foil and place it over a large pot. Steam for between 8-10 minutes until cooked through.
Use a pair forks to cut the fillets of muskies into small pieces and place aside.
Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Once the crappie is coated in the cracker crumbs, gently fold the mixture into the dry mixture using a spatula. Cover the bowl and let cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
This refrigerated mixture should be divided into eight 1/3 cup mounds. Form eight patties using your hands. Each should measure approximately 1 1/2 inches in thickness.
Heat the oil to 350°F in a large skillet. Add the muskie cakes and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges
Pan-Roasted Muskellunge With Bacon and Tomato Ragu
This recipe is adapted from Jamie Carlson’s great version with pike.
- 2 fillets of muskellunge, each approximately 2 pounds.
- 2 tbs. Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to your liking
The bacon and tomato ragu is:
- 1 lb.plum tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/4 lb. 1/4 lb.
- 1 large leek, diced
- 2 tbs. Capers
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Cook the diced leeks over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook the garlic for 1 minute. Cook the tomatoes for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the capers and bacon pieces. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the olive in an oven-safe, large pan on your stove. Season the muskellunge fillets lightly with salt and pepper and place them in the hot skillet. Continue cooking the fish for 12-15 minutes in the oven until it is cooked through.
Place the fillets on a tray and cover with the ragu. Add green onions tops and chopped chives to garnish.
Muskie fish can be eaten, but it is best to limit the amount you eat. Muskie fish should be avoided by women who are pregnant or planning to have children. Although muskie can be good every now and again, it should not be the main fish dish.
To avoid any problems when angling for muskie fish be aware of the local regulations.
Remember that pike is an alternative to muskie fish. Although pike is slightly safer than muskie fish depending on where you live, it can still be dangerous. You can also catch pike fish in certain areas.