Fish
Muskellunge (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.
The 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.
Walleyes 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.

Generally walleyes 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 MN DNR web site for more information about the walleye and walleye management.

Northern 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 apart.
But, 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.
Largemouth 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.