Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

What it looks like

  • very large, elongated fish (second-largest in Ontario)
  • dark vertical bands on light background, at times spotted or clear
  • green-gold, brown, grey or silver back
  • lighter sides
  • beige to white belly
  • partially scaled cheek and gill cover
  • 12-18 pores on underside of lower jaw
  • tips of tail fin more pointed than northern pike


  • length: 71-137 centimetres (28-40 inches)
  • weight: 4-11 kilograms (8-23 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 29.5 kilograms (65.0 pounds)

Similar fish

How to tell the difference between Northern Pike and Muskellunge

Where it is found

Range of the muskellunge in Ontario

Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992)


  • from the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes basin, north to Lake Nipissing and west to Lake of the Woods
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers


  • concealed among aquatic plants at the sides of channels
  • rocks and offshore shoals in lakes and rivers in summer

Angling tips

  • peak fishing periods are in June and in the fall when water temperatures begin to cool
  • medium-sized fish are plentiful in the summer months
  • bite all day, but morning and evening, when baitfish activity peaks, are best fishing times
  • province-wide size limits
  • use heavy casting tackle with long rods and strong line to catch this large, strong fighter
  • handle carefully, using a large net or cradle, pliers and gloves, to avoid injuring the fish or yourself

Common baits

  • large plugs, including large bass plugs
  • in-line spinners
  • spinnerbaits
  • surface lures