Welcome to Panfish

Part Twenty-three


Tiger Muskie

"Differences in Pike & Muskie"

Excerpt from Fly Rod Gamfish By Dick Sternber
Thanks to Cowles Enthusiast Media for use permission.


"Although pike and muskie have a great deal in common, their differences far outweigh their similarities. Pike occur naturally at northern latitudes throughout the world. Muskies, however, are native only to North America, and their range does not extend as far north.

Muskies seldom reach the population density of pike. Although they deposit just as many eggs, the hatch rate is lower, and because pike hatch earlier, they prey heavily on young muskies.

Technically, both species are classified as coolwater fish, meaning that they prefer lower temperatures than warmwater fish such as bass, but higher than coldwater fish such as trout. In reality, however, their temperature preferences differ considerably.

Muskies prefer water in the 67- to 72-degree range; small pike, a degree or two lower. But large pike (30+ inches) could almost be classed as coldwater fish, favoring water temperatures from 50 to 55 degrees. Pike also spawn and feed at lower temperatures than muskies. Another difference: pike bite throughout the year; muskies are seldom caught in winter.

A fly fisherman's best chance to take good-sized northerns is in spring, when the fish are patrolling shallow weed beds and backwaters. Once the water starts to warm in summer, big pike head for the depths, unless they can find a spring hole or some other source of cold water.

Try streamers up to 12 inches long, including deceivers, Dahlberg Divers and muddlers in sizes 3/0 to 4. Be sure to use a nylon-coated wire tippet at least a foot long to prevent bite-offs."

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