(musky, or muskie) are well-known as tremendous fighting fish that
can grow very large. The Minnesota angling record for muskies is a
54 pound fish, but most anglers believe much larger ones remain to
be caught. Some people find it difficult to tell a northern pike from
a muskie, but muskies tend to have darker markings (spots or stripes)
on a lighter background, or they have a uniform color with no apparent
markings. Like the northern, muskies are ambush feeders that usually
feed by sight. Their diet is also similar to the northern pike's,
with fish being their major food. The muskie spawns in shallow grassy
or weedy water when the water temperature is about 48 to 55-59 degrees.
eggs fall to the bottom, unlike the northern eggs which cling to the
vegetation. The MN DNR indicates that "Protection of habitat - especially
spawning areas - is the key to protecting these fish. Removal of
shoreline and aquatic vegetation denies the muskie cover it needs.
Eutrophication from farmland and residential development hurts spawning
success by consuming oxygen along the riverbed or lake bottom, where
the eggs of muskie and some forage fish incubate. Drainage of wetlands
causes siltation and exaggerates the effects of flooding and drought
- all to the detriment of muskie. Increased turbidity makes foraging
harder for the sight-feeding muskie." Check out the MN
DNR web site for more information about the muskies
and muskie management.
are very popular gamefish in Minnesota. They are closely related to
the sauger, which is also found in Minnesota. Walleyes can be separated
from sauger by observing the white tip on the lower portion of the
walleye's tail. The Minnesota record for a walleye is 17 lbs. 8 ounces,
but most Minnesota lakes walleyes average between 1 and 2 pounds.
Walleyes are sensitive to light and prefer to feed in low light conditions,
such as during early morning, late evening, and at night. They may
also be active feeders if the water is turbid, the weather is overcast,
or the wind creates waves on the lake.
prefer to feed on fish and bottom-dwelling insects, but they also
eat crayfish, snails, frogs, mudpuppies, and small mammals. Walleye
usually spawn in early spring (April-May) over gravel, rocks, and
rubble in shallow (1-6 feet deep) water. Spawning usually occurs
when water temperatures are between 42 and 50 degrees. The MN DNR
indicates that to maintain a successful walleye lake it is very
important to "protect the variety of lakes and streams they inhabit
through existing laws limiting pollution and regulating reservoir
and tailrace water levels. Shoreland zoning and related laws
aid walleye and other fish by controlling lake and river shorline
development and protecting aquatic plants that walleye or forage
fish use for cover. It is particularly important to protect rocky
spawning shoals from pollution and sedimentation." Check out the
DNR web site for more information about the walleye
and walleye management.
pike are agressive feeding and fighting fish that are popular
with anglers. The Minnesota record northern weighed 45 pounds, 12
ounces, but most northerns in the state are caught weighing between
2-3 pounds. Some anglers find it difficult to tell northerns and muskies
northern pike always have light markings on a darker green background
(see the MN DNR site for additional differences). Northern pike are
ambush feeders that often depend on sight to capture their food. They
are agressive feeders and often swallow fish a third their own length.
Common foods are yellow perch, tullibee, suckers, minnows and other
northern pike. Though northern pike eat sunfish and bass, they prefer
more cylindrical fish. Northern pike also eat leeches, frogs and crayfish.
Large northern pike seek out oxygenated water of 65 degrees or cooler
and often move into the depths of a lake during the summer. In Minnesota,
northern pike usually spawn between late March and early May in shallow,
grassy or weedy water when the water temperature is between 39-52
degrees. The MN DNR indicates that "Many northern pike spawning
areas have been lost to drainage, dredging and shoreline development".
They are destroyed by the farmer who drains a seasonally flooded wetland
adjoining a stream or lake, and by the cabin owner who kills the cattails
along the shore of a shallow bay. These areas must be protected through
shore land regulations that prevent draining, filling and other destruction
of shoreline wetlands. Also important are regulations that prevent
wholesale removal of the shallow-water aquatic weeds that provide
cover to young northern pike and their prey." Check out the MN
DNR web site for more information about the northern
pike and lake management for northern pike.
bass are another popular fish among many anglers. They are members
of the sunfish family and closely related to the smallmouth bass.
Unlike the smallmouth, the largemouth bass has a mouth that opens
past the eye and tend to have a lateral stripe. The Minnesota angling
record for largemouth bass is 8 pounds, 13 ounces, but anglers most
often catch largemouth bass weighing 1-2 pounds.
Largemouth bass are primarily sight feeders that eat fish, crayfish,
frogs, aquatic and terrestrial insects, and any small living animal
or bird which falls in the water. Spawning happens in May through
June when the water temperature is 63 to 68 degrees F. Largemouth
bass create a "nest" by fanning out a plate-like area in shallow water
over firm sand, mud or gravel. The male bass usually remains to guard
the eggs until hatching. The MN DNR indicates that for good largemouth
populations it is critical to make sure that a lake has "spawning
areas with a firm bottom of sand, mud or gravel; beds of rooted aquatic
weeds or other heavy cover, such as logs, to provide protection for
fry and fingerlings, and cover and ambush sites for adults (The
DNR requires that landowners first obtain a permit before working
in the beds of public waters or removing aquatic weeds that provide
cover. ); and adequate dissolved oxygen, particularly during the winter."
It is also to make sure that water clarity and good dissolved oxygen
levels are maintained in the lake. Shoreline development and septic
systems should meet zoning guidelines to reduce the negative impacts
of pollution that would harm the largemouth. Check out the MN
DNR web site for more information about the largemouth
bass and largemouth bass management.