Esox masquinongy - Mitchill, 1824
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Esox masquinongy Mitchill, 1824 (TSN 162144)
French Common Names: maskinongé
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102081
Element Code: AFCHD01030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Other Bony Fishes
Image 69

© Noel Burkhead & Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries (Fishes of Virginia)

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Esociformes Esocidae Esox
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B91ROB01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Esox masquinongy
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly not recognized as distinct from E. lucius. Also formerly regarded as comprising three distinct species (E. masquinongy, E. ohioensis, and E. immaculatus); later these were regarded as subspecies, which now are not considered nameworthy (Lee et al. 1980).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 17Aug2015
Global Status Last Changed: 12Sep1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Dec1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4N5 (17Aug2015)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Georgia (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (S1), Iowa (S3), Kentucky (S4), Maine (SNR), Maryland (SNA), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (SNR), Missouri (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), New Hampshire (SNR), New Jersey (SNA), New York (S4), North Carolina (S3), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (S3), Pennsylvania (S3S4), South Dakota (S5), Tennessee (S3), Vermont (S1), Virginia (SNA), West Virginia (S4), Wisconsin (S5)
Canada Manitoba (S1), New Brunswick (SNA), Ontario (S4), Quebec (S4)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Candidate (Low) (26Jan2015)
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Native range includes the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River), and Mississippi River basins from Quebec to southeastern Manitoba and south to Georgia and Iowa (Page and Burr 2011). This fish has been introduced in numerous localities, including Atlantic Slope drainages south to southern Virginia, and southern and western U.S. (where introductions usually have not been successful) (Page and Burr 2011).

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations). Kerr (2011) determined that this species occurs in 1,391 lakes, 376 rivers, and 99 reservoirs in North America. Almost 73 percent of North America's muskellunge waters are sustained by natural reproduction, but few jurisdictions rely solely on natural reproduction to provide fisheries (this is a highly prized trophy fish) (Kerr 2011).

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but apparently quite large (likely greater than 100,000). This fish is locally common (Page and Burr 2011).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Historically, habitat alteration, pollution, overexploitation, and increased abundance of northern pike caused declines in some areas (Kerr 2011).

Habitat loss/degradation, pollution, overexploitation,, non-native species, and diseases and pathogens are current management issues in some areas (Kerr 2011). Disease and pathogen issues are undoubtedly due to infections of muskellunge in the Great Lakes by piscirickettsia (musky pox) and viral hemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) over the past decade (Kerr 2011).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable.

Long-term Trend: Increase of >25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Abundance declined in many jurisdictions by the late 1800s and early 1900 (Kerr 2011). Stocking has expanded the distribution of muskellunge in a number of locations beyond its natural range. Forty-six percent (864 waters) of all North American muskellunge waters have resulted from introductions (Kerr 2011).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Native range includes the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River), and Mississippi River basins from Quebec to southeastern Manitoba and south to Georgia and Iowa (Page and Burr 2011). This fish has been introduced in numerous localities, including Atlantic Slope drainages south to southern Virginia, and southern and western U.S. (where introductions usually have not been successful) (Page and Burr 2011).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, GAexotic, IA, ILexotic, IN, KY, MDexotic, ME, MI, MN, MOexotic, NC, ND, NEexotic, NH, NJexotic, NY, OH, PA, SD, TN, VAexotic, VT, WI, WV
Canada MB, NBexotic, ON, QC

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
IN Clark (18019)*, Crawford (18025), Floyd (18043)*, Harrison (18061)
OH Ashtabula (39007), Cuyahoga (39035)*, Erie (39043)*, Lake (39085), Lucas (39095)*, Ottawa (39123)*, Sandusky (39143)*, Scioto (39145)*, Wood (39173)*
VT Franklin (50011)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Upper Connecticut-Mascoma (01080104)
02 Great Chazy-Saranac (02010006)*
04 Beartrap-Nemadji (04010301), Bad-Montreal (04010302), Black-Presque Isle (04020101), Ontonagon (04020102), Keweenaw Peninsula (04020103), Betsy-Chocolay (04020201), Lake Superior (04020300), Manitowoc-Sheboygan (04030101), Duck-Pensaukee (04030103)*, Oconto (04030104), Peshtigo (04030105), Brule (04030106), Menominee (04030108), Cedar-Ford (04030109), Upper Fox (04030201), Wolf (04030202), Lake Winnebago (04030203), Lower Fox (04030204), Little Calumet-Galien (04040001), Pike-Root (04040002)*, Black-Macatawa (04050002), Thornapple (04050007), Pere Marquette-White (04060101), Betsie-Platte (04060104), Boardman-Charlevoix (04060105), Brevoort-Millecoquins (04060107), Lake Michigan (04060200), Carp-Pine (04070002), Lone Lake-Ocqueoc (04070003), Kawkawlin-Pine (04080102), Pigeon-Wiscoggin (04080103), Birch-Willow (04080104), St. Clair (04090001), Lake St. Clair (04090002), Clinton (04090003), Detroit (04090004), Tiffin (04100006), Auglaize (04100007), Lower Maumee (04100009)+, Cedar-Portage (04100010)+, Sandusky (04100011)+, Huron-Vermilion (04100012)*, Black-Rocky (04110001)+*, Cuyahoga (04110002)+, Ashtabula-Chagrin (04110003)+, Grand (04110004)+, Chautauqua-Conneaut (04120101)*, Niagara (04120104), Lake Erie (04120200), Oneida (04140202), Upper St. Lawrence (04150301)*, Indian (04150303), Grass (04150304)*, Raquette (04150305)*, St. Regis (04150306)*, Missiquoi River (04150407)+*
05 Upper Allegheny (05010001), Conewango (05010002), French (05010004)*, Tygart Valley (05020001), West Fork (05020002), Upper Monongahela (05020003), Lower Monongahela (05020005), Upper Ohio (05030101), Mahoning (05030103), Upper Ohio-Wheeling (05030106), Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201), Upper Ohio-Shade (05030202), Little Kanawha (05030203), Hocking (05030204), Tuscarawas (05040001), Mohican (05040002), Walhonding (05040003), Muskingum (05040004), Wills (05040005), Elk (05050007), Lower Kanawha (05050008), Upper Scioto (05060001), Lower Scioto (05060002), Paint (05060003), Lower Guyandotte (05070102), Upper Great Miami (05080001), Lower Great Miami (05080002), Whitewater (05080003), Raccoon-Symmes (05090101), Twelvepole (05090102), Little Scioto-Tygarts (05090103)+, Little Sandy (05090104), Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201), Little Miami (05090202), Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)*, Licking (05100101), Middle Fork Kentucky (05100202), South Fork Kentucky (05100203), Upper Kentucky (05100204), Lower Kentucky (05100205), Upper Green (05110001), Barren (05110002), South Fork Cumberland (05130104), Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+*, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+
06 Upper French Broad (06010105), Pigeon (06010106), Nolichucky (06010108), Upper Little Tennessee (06010202), Tuckasegee (06010203), Lower Little Tennessee (06010204)*, Emory (06010208)*, Hiwassee (06020002), Ocoee (06020003)
07 Mississippi Headwaters (07010101), Clearwater-Elk (07010203), Upper St. Croix (07030001), Namekagon (07030002), Lower St. Croix (07030005), Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003), La Crosse-Pine (07040006), Black (07040007), Upper Chippewa (07050001), Flambeau (07050002), South Fork Flambeau (07050003), Jump (07050004), Lower Chippewa (07050005), Eau Claire (07050006), Red Cedar (07050007), Coon-Yellow (07060001)*, Upper Wisconsin (07070001), Lake Dubay (07070002), Castle Rock (07070003), Lower Wisconsin (07070005), Copperas-Duck (07080101)*, Winnebago (07080203), Upper Rock (07090001), Crawfish (07090002), Upper Fox (07120006), Lower Fox (07120007)
09 Little Fork (09030005), Big Fork (09030006), Lower Rainy (09030008)
10 Little Sioux (10230003), Upper Chariton (10280201)
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed (based on multiple information sources) Help
Ecology & Life History
Reproduction Comments: Spawns in spring. Two clutches of eggs per year (Lebeau 1991). Eggs hatch in 1-2 weeks. Sexually mature in 3-5 years.
Ecology Comments: Large adults normally sedentary and solitary.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: May migrate up to at least 40 km between spawning areas and nonspawning areas (Becker 1983).
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Pool
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Habitat Comments: Habitat includes warm heavily vegetated lakes, stumpy weedy bays, pools and backwaters of creeks and small to large rivers with abundant vegetation; often in large lakes with both extensive deep and shallow basins and tributary streams (lee et al. 1980, Page and Burr 2011). Spawning occurs in water less than 1 meter deep in heavily vegetated flooded areas. Eggs sink and stick to bottom or vegetation.
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Food changes with size; initially zooplankton, later fishes and other available vertebrates.
Length: 164 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Management Requirements: See Hall (1986) for information on management and propagation.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Pikes and Pickerels

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including larvae or eggs) in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Dam; high waterfall; upland habitat.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Data on dispersal and other movements generally are not available. However, individual muskellunge may migrate up to at least 40 km between spawning areas and nonspawning areas (Becker 1983), so occurrences may be large. It is important to evaluate seasonal changes in habitat to ensure that an occupied habitat occurrence for a particular population does not artificially separate spawning areas and nonspawning areas as different occurrences.
Separation distances (in stream kilometers) are arbitrary but reflect the probability that these relatively large fishes move large distances and so warrant a large separation distance. Because of the difficulty in defining suitable versus unsuitable habitat, especially with respect to dispersal, and to simplify the delineation of occurrences, a single separation distance is used regardless of habitat quality. A gap of 10 km or more of any apparently unoccupied aquatic habitat separates occurrences.

Date: 21May2001
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Dec2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01Dec2011
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Aquin, P. 1999. Évaluation de la situation des groupes taxonomiques des poissons du Québec. Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune. 9 pages.

  • Blimber, D.L. 1983. Longevity, growth, and mortality of muskellunge in Chautauqua Lake, New York. N. Y. Fish Game J. 29(2)(1982):134-141.

  • Crossman, E. J. 1977. Displacement and home range movements of muskelunge determined by ultrasonic tracking. Environmental Biology of Fishes 1(2): 145-158.

  • Crossman, E. J., and C. D. Goodchild. 1978. An annotated bibliography of the muskellunge, Esox masquinongy (Osteichthyes: Salmoniformes). Royal Ontario Mus.

  • Crossman, E.J. and C.D. Goodchild. 1978. An annotated bibliography of the Muskelunge, ESOX MASQUINONGY. Misc. Publ. Roy. Ont. Mus. Life Sci. 131 pp.

  • Dombeck, M.P. 1979. Movement and behavior of the muskelunge determined by radio-telemetry. Wis. Dep. Nat. Res. Tech. Bull. No. 113. 19 pp.

  • Hall, G. E., ed. 1986. Managing muskies: a treatise on the biology and propagation of muskellunge in North America. Am. Fisheries Soc., Spec. Publ. 15. Bethesda, Maryland. 372 pp.

  • Kerr, S. J. 2011. Distribution and management of muskellunge in North America: an overview. Fisheries Policy Section, Biodiversity Branch. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 22 pp. + appendices.

  • Lebeau, B. 1991. Oocyte recruitment and spawning chronology in pike, Esox lucius, and muskellunge, Esox masquinongy. Canadian Journal of Zoology 69:2194-2201.

  • Legendre, V. et J.F. Bergeron. 1977. Liste des poissons d' eau douce du Québec. MLCP, Service Aménage. Expl. Faune. Rap. dact. 6

  • Nelson, J. S., E. J. Crossman, H. Espinosa-Perez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, and J. D. Williams. 2004. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 29, Bethesda, Maryland. 386 pp.

  • Oehmcke, A. A., L. Johnson, J. Klingbiel, and C. Wistrom. 1965. The Wisconsin muskellunge, its life history, ecology, and management. Wis. conserv. Dep. Publ. 225. 12 pp.

  • Page, L. M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N. E. Mandrak, R. L. Mayden, and J. S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Seventh edition. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. xix + 663 pp.

  • Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.

  • Scott, W. B., and E. J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Bulletin 184. 966 pp.

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • Becker, G. C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 1,052 pp.

  • Burr, B. M., and M. L. Warren, Jr. 1986a. Distributional atlas of Kentucky fishes. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, Scientific and Technical Series No. 4, Frankfort, Kentucky. 398 pp.

  • Cooper, E. L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park. 243 pp.

  • Etnier, D. A., and W. C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, Tennessee. xiv + 681 pp.

  • Fago, D. 2000. Relative abundance and distribution of fishes in Wisconsin. Fish Distribution Database to year 2000. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

  • Harlan, J. R., E. B. Speaker, and J. Mayhew. 1987. Iowa fish and fishing. Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa. 323 pp.

  • Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, North Carolina. i-x + 854 pp.

  • Menhinick, E. F. 1991. The freshwater fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 227 pp.

  • Smith, C. L. 1983. Fishes of New York (maps and printout of a draft section on scarce fishes of New York). Unpublished draft.

  • Smith, P. W. 1979. The fishes of Illinois. University of Illinois Press, Urbana. 314 pp.

  • Stauffer, J. R., Jr., J. M. Boltz, and L. R. White. 1995. The fishes of West Virginia. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 146:1-389.

  • Trautman, M. B. 1981. The fishes of Ohio. Second edition. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, Ohio. 782 pp.

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