Muskellunge Management: Fifty Years of Cooperation Among Anglers, Scientists, and Fisheries Biologists

Feeding Habitats and Diet of the Muskellunge: A Review [Abstract]

Steven J. Kerr

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874462.ch20

This review was prompted by concerns that the predatory habits of Muskellunge Esox masquinongy could have negative impacts on other popular sport fishes, such as black bass Micropterus spp., Walleye Sander vitreus, trout, and salmon. Muskellunge are known to be opportunistic predators with a highly diverse diet. Generally, the size of prey items increases as the size of the fish increases. Larger Muskellunge also seem to prefer one large meal over several smaller meals. In studies examined, Yellow Perch Perca flavescens, catostomids, and shad were consistently important in Muskellunge diets. There was little evidence to indicate that Muskellunge predation had any significant impact on resident Walleye or black bass populations, where they coexisted. Because their habitats seldom overlap, only limited information was available on the predatory impact of Muskellunge on salmonids. The relative impact of Muskellunge seemed to be a function of water body size and composition of the resident fish community; larger water bodies and those having a diverse forage fish community were relatively unaffected by the presence of Muskellunge. The presence and abundance of soft-rayed fish species likely reduced the predatory impact on other resident sport fish species. More research is recommended to determine the potential impact of Muskellunge on salmonids, as well as at-risk species.