Ontario Muskie (Musky) FishingMuskellunge Fishing Tips and Lodges
The Maskinonge is usually found. lying concealed among aquatic plants at the sides of channels, or off shelving rocks in medium sized lakes and in rivers in summer and moves into shallow waters in the fall. This is in contrast to the movements of the pike.
Movements: Maskinonge moves on the spawning beds in shallow water, often up on the flood plain, immediately after the ice de- parts in the spring. Then they withdraw to deep water to feed, after the ordeal of spawning. By July, they withdraw to deeper water, near rocky ledges and shoals, beyond the shallow bays where they spawned. The habits of the maskinonge during mid-summer are something of a mystery. At this time, it is rarely caught on a full stomach, probably because it feeds only at certain times. In August, trolling in deep water, out from weedy shore or off rocky shelves, is more fruitful. During the latter part of September and in early October when the leaves are turning, the maskinonge frequent shallow water, one to two feet deep, alongside logs or stumps, amidst lily pads and rushes.
Spawning: As already stated, maskinonge spawn early in spring, the spawning date being dictated by the temperature of the water. Spawning usually commences when the temperature is 49’F. The spawning area selected is very shallow (15 to 20 inches) and weedy, and may be found in medium-sized to large lakes and in the quiet portions of rivers. Maskinonge does not make nests like the bass. When spawning, they swim around in pairs, side by side, keeping the same relative’ position in turning, going under logs, etc., as if they were cemented together. They generally remain close to the surface of the water. In fact, their dorsal and caudal fins frequently rise above the surface. They appear to keep close to the edges of the open water; that is, when they enter a small, clear area, they swim close to submerged dead tree trunks or clumps of vegetation, rather than directly across the area. During these manoeuvres, they move slowly and often pause a moment or two. During the spawning act, the fish roll over on their sides, their ventral surfaces approximating for an instant. This is done several times, the eggs and milt being scattered at random among the vegetation. The duration of the spawning period depends on the temperature of the water. Under favorable conditions and a gradual rising temperature, the spawning season may last six days, which is the normal condition. If weather conditions are unfavorable, the spawning season may be extended to fourteen days. Spawning is practically over when the water temperature registers 60’F. Nevin reported that a female maskinonge, weighing 40 pounds, produced 225,000 eggs; and Hasler et al ’76 reported that fish, from 36 to 46 inches in length, produced 22,000 to 164,000 eggs.
Within a temperature range of 50’F. to 55’F., the incubation period is twelve to fifteen days. A lower range of temperature lengthens, and a higher range accelerates the incubation period.
Food and Growth: The maskinonge is predaceous and essentially a fish eater; it preys upon a wide variety of fishes; for example.. perch, suckers and shiners. It also feeds extensively upon frogs and crayfish. Its appetite is almost insatiable and it has been estimated that 10 to 15 pounds of food are required to add one pound of fish flesh to any mem- ber of the Pike family. This shows the tremendous drain these fishes make on the food supply. The following data indicate the rapidity with which the maskinonge grows:
The maximum recorded age of maskinonge is 20 years but, in general, their life span is considerably less than this.