Muskie Vs Pike – Everything you need to know
Muskie Vs Pike – Northern Pike and Muskellunge are two of North America’s favorite freshwater game fish. These predatory large fish are as agile and fast as their torpedo-shaped bodies suggest. Pike and Muskie, also known as “waterwolves” or “the fish of a million casts”, are two fish that do not come easily.
This article will explain the differences between “Muskie” and “Pike”. It will also show you where to look to find them. Learn how to catch trophy fish and the best techniques to capture them. You can learn all about these magnificent creatures, whether you are a Muskie lover, a Pike enthusiast, or just a beginner.
It is always better to start from the beginning. Here are some questions that people frequently have about Pike or Muskie before we get into the details.
Are Muskie and Pike the Same?
Muskellunge and Northern Pike are very close cousins. Both are part of the same genus Esox, along with other Pikes and Pickerels. They are not the same species or different varieties of the fish. They are two distinct species, with differing behaviors, markings, distributions.
Musky or Muskie?
Muskellunge can be spelled in many different ways. They can be called Muskellunge or Muscallonge depending on where they are caught. Both “Muskie”, “Musky” and both are accepted spellings, and they can be used interchangeably.
Which is bigger, Muskie or Pike?
Muskies and pike are almost always the same size. People often have difficulty telling the difference between them. Pike are much smaller than Muskie, however. Pike average height is less than 2 feet. Muskie can reach twice as high. The IGFA record for Pike stands at just over 55 pounds, 12 pounds short of the record for Muskie.
Tiger Muskie vs. Muskie
Is Tiger Muskie a subspecies? They could be a regional species. They are neither. Tiger Muskie is a mix of a male Northern Pike and a female Muskellunge. Although they are very rare in the wild these fish can be found in some waters. They are a rare species that anglers will want to see because of their unusual appearance, large size and rarity.
Muskie vs. Pike Identification
Muskie and Pike both are long, pointy freshwater fish. How do you determine which fish you have caught? Because Muskie can vary in size and color, it is not always easy to identify which one you have caught. There are three simple ways to identify the fish at the end of your line.
1. Look at the tail. This is the best way to tell the difference between Muskie or Pike. Both species have forked tails. However, Muskie has more pointed forks while Pike’s tails are more round. You can also tell Tiger Musky apart from regular Musky by their rounded tails.
2. Take a look at the markings. Muskie’s can have a variety of colors and patterns. You might see them with thick, strong bars or faint spots. Or maybe no pattern at all. Their markings will always be darker that the rest of their bodies. Pike are the exact opposite. Pike have a dark green-blue body with light, creamy spots that are bean-shaped.
3. Count the pores. Muskie and Pike have different pores that detect movement in water. Muskie has 6-9 pores, while Pike has 4-5 pores per side. When flipping the fish over, be gentle and take care to not touch its mouth.
Are you still unsure if you have caught a Muskie? Look at their scales. Muskie have the upper half of their cheeks covered in scales while Pike have them all over their faces. However, you should be able identify your fish by looking at its face.
Where can I find Muskie and Pike?
Now that you are able to distinguish between Muskie and Pike, where do you go to find them? It all depends on the species. Here’s a guide to where you can find Pike or Muskie.
Distribution of Muskie and Pike
Both Muskie and pike thrive around the Great Lakes. Both fish can be found in the five lakes as well as in the rivers. This is about the only thing that is similar.
Pike can be found in all of North America. From Alaska’s northwest to Labrador, Canada’s eastern province, you will find them. They can also be found in Oklahoma and Arkansas as well as isolated lakes further south. They can be found anywhere in the world within the same northerly range as they are in North America.
Muskie are a smaller species. They are found in the Great Lakes and along the Appalachian Mountains, as far as Georgia. Although they were introduced to Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg, their captures in these lakes is very rare. The Great Lakes and rivers are the best places to find a Muskie.
Habitat for Muskie and Pike Pike
Although they may have different distributions, Muskellunge and Northern Pike have similar habitat preferences. Both are ambush hunters and hide in thick vegetation waiting for their meal. They both prefer clear water because they are sight-based hunters.
Muskie live in large rivers, large lakes and large lakes. Muskie are more flexible about their habitat. Pike can be found in smaller rivers and lakes, as well the usual places Muskie prefer to live. You can find them in dense weedy areas of rivers and lakes.
Muskie and Pike will usually stick to shallow, slow-moving water. They rarely venture below 40 feet. This is unless the water gets too hot or there’s more food further down. Musky prefer the shallows but they also enjoy exploring other options. So, shallow vegetation that has easy access to deeper waters is always a good option.
How to catch Muskie and Pike
Both are highly predatory fish and built for speed as well as strength. They are prized game fish across their entire range because of this. Muskies are notoriously difficult to hook. This is why they’re known as the “fish of a million casts”. There are some tricks that work for both species.
Pike Fishing Tips
To catch Pike, most anglers use large spoons or shallow-running plugs. As long as the bait is large enough to catch their attention, live bait can also work. When they are stocking up for winter, pike will seek out larger prey. Spring is colder and slower, so the fish will be happy with smaller baits.
Fly fishing is a great way to target pike. Pike will take large streamers and sliders. If you don’t want half the lake to disappear with you, make sure that you are using weedless fly patterns. Pike can be very aggressive, so use a heavy leader.
Muskie fishing tips
For Muskie fishing, the best tip is to be patient. Even experienced anglers can’t guarantee big Muskies. You might get a hookup if you aim for a “follow”, which is when a fish follows your lure. These guys are known for their amazing acrobatics and skill at throwing the hook.
When you are going after Musky, most tips for Pike fishing can be followed: Fish the weeds. Later in the year, use larger baits. If you want your lure to stay on the hook, use a wire leader. Large jigs and jerkbaits are the best lures to catch Musky. For trolling, diving plugs and bucktails are the best lures.
Three Easy Ways to Tell the Difference Between Muskie and Pike
They silently slash through the water, striking prey from ambush. How can you tell the difference between a Muskie and a Pike? Sharp teeth and long slender bodies capable of fast runs and explosive action…Long a favorite quarry for sporting anglers around the great lakes region, the Northern Pike, and its close relative the Muskie (Muskellunge) are the stuff of dreams for many anglers.
They are as similar as walleye and sauger, but there are subtle differences that can help you quickly identify each species.
Are Muskie & Pike the Same Thing?
Although Muskie and Pike may be confused, many anglers mistake them for one another. Although they share some habitats and waterways, they are distinct species.
The Esox genus includes Muskie and Northern Pike. Muskellunge’s scientific name is Esox Masquinongy. It took nearly 70 years for 18th- and 19th century scientists to recognize that it was a distinct species from Esox Lucius (the Northern Pike).
The Tiger Muskie, a third fish, is a hybrid between a Muskie-Nordic. We’ll get to that later.
How to Tell the Difference
To determine if you have landed a Muskie, or a Pike, there are three simple indicators that you can use:
- The Tail Fork
- The Patterning
- The Jaw Pores
First, color. Muskie can have a clear body with few spots. You can spot them, which resembles a brown trout. Or they can have a barred coloration with dark vertical stripes and a lighter background. These ambush predators can be seen in the barred pattern because they are well camouflaged by underwater weeds.
The Northern Pike has more uniformity, with lighter yellowish/green horizontal stripes contrasted against a dark-green body. Where Muskie fins can be seen, the caudal or tail fins of the Northern Pike are either spotted or plain.
The submandibular pores under the jaw are another indicator. Muskies have six to nine pores. Northerns have five pores or less.
The last thing to check is the scales of the cheeks. Muskie scales are located behind the eye at the upper part of the cheek. Northern Pike cheeks cover the whole cheek and the upper area behind it.
Muskie vs Pike Size Differences
Cal Johnson caught the record Muskie on Lake Court Oreilles, Wisconsin in 1949. The giant measured 60 1/4 inches in length and weighed 67 lbs 8 ounces. Wow!
Peter Dubuc, an unofficial American Northern Pike fisherman, caught the record American Northern Pike on Lake Sacandaga in upstate New York. It was captured by Dubuc in 1940. 46-pounds and 2 ounces were the weight of this huge fish. It was huge!
Lothar Louis, a German Northern Pike fisherman, landed a 55-pound pike weighing 1 ounce on October 16, 1986. Germany is known for its excellent Northern Pike fishing.
The Tiger Muskie record for the longest Tiger Muskie is old, and dates back to 1919, when a 68 pound, 63 1/4 inch long Tiger was captured on the Chippewa Flowage, Sawyer County, Wisconsin.
Muskie vs Pike Taste
Muskie and Pike share a similar texture and taste. They are both long, slender fish that have many bones. When properly prepared, they can be very good eating, however, most anglers prefer a more delicate and flaky fish such as Walleye or Black Crappie.
Musky should be released, according to the consensus of the angling community. Musky should not be kept for dinner. Musky can also become high in Mercury in certain water bodies. You should limit their intake.
Muskie can be good for eating when allowed by regulations. When cleaning the fish, care must be taken. Muskie have many bones but can be delicious if prepared properly.
Although they are more common, pike is a table fair. However, they also have many bones so be careful when cleaning them. Below is a video that explains the anatomy and how to prepare these fish for tasty meals.
Where can I find Muskie?
Muskie are an American species that is only found in a few states. Their nickname is “The fish with 10,000 casts”.
The Muskie’s original natural range was from Tennessee to Ontario, New York to Minnesota. The Great Lakes had the highest concentration. Today, Muskie are stocked in several other states, including Missouri, Nebraska, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
Muskie love rivers and lakes with variable bottoms. They seek submerged trees with dense vegetation. Look for the wees! These fish are known for their long, slender bodies that they use to wait for prey. They are not often found in open, clear water or on a sandy bottom.
Where can I find pike
Northern Pike can be found in all parts of the Northern Hemisphere. They are native to the Great Lakes region of the United States and have been introduced as far south as Texas and Georgia.
Their range is among the largest on the planet. Northern Pike is naturally found above the line if you draw a line from New York to Moscow.
Pike fishing is very popular across Europe in countries such as Germany, Denmark and Finland. The United States has the highest concentration of North Pike in the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest.
Tips for Pike Fishing
Northern Pike can be aggressive and are perhaps the most dangerous fish in North America. Although they will strike almost any lure, they prefer brightly-colored, loud lures with bucktails.
Trolling is when you turn the trolling motor up and cover the lake. You can move to another spot if you haven’t had any luck with the water.
A braided-line baitcasting reel gives you the power and control to tackle big Northerns that strike your bait. A steel leader is the only thing you will need, regardless of whether you are after Muskie or Pike. These fish are able to eat through regular lines easily. They cannot cut steel.
Frogs, suckers, fathead minnows and shad are great natural baits. Any lure that imitates them works well as well. They’ll strike Northerns if there are any in the water.
Muskie fishing tips
Muskie needs the same tackle as Northern Pike. White sucker is the best live bait. A 12-14-inch white sucker with a 4/0 single hook or treble hook will work well if you are looking for a Muskie hook. You can toss the sucker in close proximity to vegetation and allow it to swim, using only a small amount of pressure. It should be kept just beyond the edges of dense weeds.
According to the conventional wisdom, the Muskie is the fish that casts ten thousand times. A large bucktail trailing behind makes the best spinner. Rapalas six inches or larger and floating mouse lures work well. You can toss them in channels close to exposed grass, weeds and submerged logs. It is easy to retrieve.
Muskie lures can be very large, loud and colorful. To trigger this predatory response, you should use aggressive baits. Muskie can often follow your lure to the boat, and strike right at the last minute.
Muskie Vs. Pike: Conclusion
Both Muskie and Pike are amazing fish to catch. They are hardy, strong, and can grow to be huge. Musky have a smaller range but they are more tolerant of different habitats and can hunt in the same way.
Musky are more prized because of their unpredictable nature, but Pike deserve legendary status as well. These fish are both apex predators and use all of their strength, speed, and agility to fight. Musky can be difficult to get to bite but it is possible.