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Muskellunge

General Facts
The muskellunge is the largest member of the pike family, a highly prized sportfish and a true trophy. This elusive fish is seldom abundant, and in lakes one adult fish per acre is considered a good fishery. Known as the fish of 10,000 casts, muskellunge in New Jersey do not stick by that standard and are routinely caught with less effort. They are growing to true trophy proportions (50+ inches) that rival many of the best waters in the country. Muskellunge are generally a shallow-water fish, preferring areas of weeds, logs, and other cover in both lake and stream environments. However, the hot temperatures of mid-summer usually force the larger fish into deeper water where there may be less cover.

Where
The most productive muskie waters have been the Delaware River, Greenwood Lake, Monksville Reservoir and Echo Lake Reservoir. However, more recently established fisheries in Lake Hopatcong, Mercer Lake and Mountain Lake are coming on strong. Areas near structure and cover are ideal habitat for muskies. Shallow weedy areas of lakes warm up first in the spring and are a good bet for early season. Weed beds are consistent areas throughout the summer. Other productive areas are rocky points, ledges, outcroppings, and fallen and standing timber. Fish deeper water and drop-offs associated with these structures in mid-summer as the fish move to cooler water. These same areas are also productive during the fall.

When
Muskellunge can be caught throughout the year, even through the ice - in fact, the current state record was caught just that way. Fishing is relatively consistent from late spring to mid-fall, with September and October considered two of the best months. The majority of muskie fishing takes place during daylight hours, with the afternoon considered the most productive time of day. However, night fishing can also be productive.

How
Typical muskellunge fishing techniques involve casting or trolling a variety of large lures in and around available cover and structures. One key to muskie fishing is the retrieve. Although there is no hard and fast rule, the veteran muskie angler frequently employs a fast retrieve. Similarly, in trolling, so called "speed trolling" can be productive. Frequently muskies follow the lure to the boat but don't strike. One productive method to entice a strike is to swirl the lure around in the water in a figure eight along side the boat at the end of the retrieve.

The most popular types of lures are bucktails, crankbaits and jerkbaits. Some favorites are the Harasser, Grandma and the Reef Hawg respectively. Trolling bucktail spinners just below the surface along the top of submerged vegetation, a short distance beyond the prop wash, is an effective method for covering large areas and triggering aggressive fish. Deep trolling the cooler waters near points and drop-offs in late summer and early fall is also productive.

Related Sportsmen's Organization
Chapter 22 Muskies Inc.
Penn-Jersey Chapter Muskies Inc.
Knee Deep Club

Muskies, Inc. (national)

Focus on Fishing: Muskellunge

Muskellunge Distribution Map

Muskellunge Stocking Summary, 2013 (pdf, 16kb)
Muskellunge Stocking Summary, 2012 (pdf, 11kb)
Muskellunge Stocking Summary, 2011 (pdf, 11kb)
Muskellunge Stocking Summary, 2010 (pdf, 14kb)
Muskellunge Stocking Summary, 2009 (pdf, 12kb)
Muskellunge Stocking Summary, 2008 (pdf, 10kb)

Muskellunge Fact Sheet (pdf, 17kb)

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: January 29, 2014