This summer we’ve seen numerous heat waves grip many areas of America. When one impacts where I live, it makes me think of heading to the nearest lake to cool off. It also makes me think that long before the movie Jaws scared people from entering the water, the phrase “there’s muskie in here” surely made people think twice before entering lakes that were known to support a muskie. I remember as a kid vacationing in northern Wisconsin and how my older brother would taunt me by mentioning “there’s muskie here” as we were about to go swimming in some lake. Or how the local kids at the beach would say the same thing to see if that would keep the “towner” kids from entering the water.
Although I couldn’t find any valid reports of a muskie intentionally attacking a human, the characteristics of a full grown muskie do seem intimidating. The scientific name for this fish is Esox masquinongy or muskellunge but is often generally referred to as musky or muskie. These fish can grow to be almost 5 feet long and weigh in excess of 60lbs. With their long broad head and a huge mouth full of sharp pointy teeth a person can understand how kids and even adults might be afraid to enter known muskie waters.
But for anglers hearing “there’s muskie in here” means a call to arms to try to catch one of these prized fish. Their natural range is in large rivers and lakes in northern Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, north into Canada and throughout the St. Lawrence River. Other states with active muskie fishing contests include IA, IL, MO, OH, PA, WA and WV. Anglers pursuing muskie usually have a wide variety of natural and artificial baits in their arsenal. Most lures are eight to twelve inches long but some can go as big as 14 to 26 inches as muskies have been known to strike prey that is 30% of their total length. Serious muskie anglers can develop strong arms casting these large baits as an old saying goes a muskie is “the fish of a thousand casts.”
Needless to say with a fresh water fish this large there are bound to be fishing contests for them. Today these tournaments are usually catch and release to protect the species. The Professional Muskie Angler Circuit in Wisconsin offers a $60,000 first place prize at this year’s championship. Muskies, Inc. that was founded in1966 has expanded to over 6,000 Members and 50 independent Local Chapters throughout the country. Many of these chapters hold muskie tournaments throughout the summer and into September and October. Some of these include Lake Superior chapter in Minnesota, the Heartland Muskies in Iowa and the Pomme de Terre Chapter in Missouri. Other muskie organizations include the Illinois Musky Tournament Trail, the Muskie Maniacs in Ohio and the Three Rivers Muskie in PA.
AmericanFishingContests.com lists almost 200 muskie contests in 2021. In addition to those, in 2021 there is even an online kayak musky chanllenge that is now running through December 15. Follow this link to find out more https://www.ianglertournament.com/kayak-musky-challenge-2021-canada-and-us. Don’t let the phrase “there’s muskie in here” scare you. Instead use that information and try to catch “the fish of a thousand casts”.