Muskie, Musky, or Muskellunge is a predacious fish with a good appetite. They are the largest member of the pike family. But what does Musky taste like?
Musky has a mild fish flavor with firm white meat. Their white filleted flesh has been compared to lobster when prepared with butter.
As an ambush hunter, it eats mammals, poultry, and fish alike. It has a clean taste and is not muddy, as it likes to live in clean, clear water.
What are Musky?
Before going further into what does Musky taste like, let’s learn some background on the fish. Muskie, also named Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), is a flat-headed fish with an elongated body.
Part of the Pike family, it resembles the Northern Pike and is often confused by inexperienced anglers. The biggest distinguishing factor between male and female Muskies is generally their size.
Author Note: Females are much larger in size. It has a white underbelly and light brown sides. Some females show some darker brown spots all over. The biggest recorded Musky ever caught weighed in at 67 pounds and 8 oz!
There have been reports of Muskies attacking humans and dogs. But it’s extremely rare and probably slightly overdramatized and exaggerated.
One thing to note is that muskies are a very low density fish, and many areas have trophy sized regulations, with muskies having to be very big to harvest, even though they can be harvested, studies and reports have shown that 98% of all musky anglers release the fish for the sake of conservation.
Muskies typically have very large amounts of mercury in their systems, which is typically of larger and older fish, an as a result, you should proceed with caution.
Where Do Musky Live?
Muskies are native to certain lakes and rivers of North America, making them a freshwater fish species. They live in two distinct places within the water system during the summer.
One is the smaller shallow area between rocks, reeds, and grasses. The other one a bigger, deeper home near stumps and boulders.
A Musky uses both habitats as it patrols the area and stays in the favorable temperature range. If it gets too hot in the shallow area, it will move to the deeper home and wait to ambush for food there.
They like clear water to lurk and rest in. You can often see musky surface and gulp air in these areas.
What Do Musky Eat?
Muskie is a predatory fish and waits patiently for its prey and then ambushes it. It will eat any fish in their habitat. They generally like to eat smaller fish but will eat any fish up to 30% of its own size. Even baby musky eat other fish!
Some have suggested that Muskies feast on Walleye. However, studies by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources across a few lakes have suggested otherwise. Out of 1092 Muskies, the researchers found only 5 Walleyed in their stomachs. They found 6 Muskies in the stomachs in the same study.
Muskies like to hang around in the reeds and grasses. There, they await their opportunity to strike on any mice, frogs, crayfish, ducklings, insects, and fish. With their razor-sharp needle-like teeth, they are dangerous opportunists and masters of their realm. This also makes them very hard to land without a net.
Author Note: Their attack method is to bite the fish in an ambush attack and then swallow it headfirst. Generally, adult muskies do not have any other predators hunting them other than humans trying to catch them.
Musky are one of the apex predators in an ecosystem. They will eat prey much larger than what any other freshwater fish would eat. If you want to catch a Musky, we recommend fishing with a large Musky bucktail.
How to Cook Musky
There are a few options when it comes to cooking Muskie, from baked to boiled, fried, or seared. The fish has been called slightly bland by some before and needs the addition of herbs, butter, and spices. Once this balance has been achieved, it is a good-tasting fish. If you want to answer the question “what does Musky taste like?” with “delicious”, then follow this recipe!
Some preparation options include mashing the Musky into fish cakes or coating with beer batter and deep-frying. This technique also works well for preparing lake trout.
Another method is boiling the fillets just covered in Sprite or 7Up, fry a little garlic in butter, and add a pinch of cumin, salt, and pepper.
Take the fillets out, and pour the garlic butter over them.
As mentioned, Musky can be made into delicious fishcakes:
Mince the fish fillets with chickpeas and garlic and a handful of fresh herbs. Add ½ a cup of breadcrumbs and ½ teaspoon of salt and mix together.
If you have a lot of Musky, you can make a large batch and freeze it for up to 3 months in the freezer.
A filleted Muskie can be seared on a skillet with butter and a big squeeze of lime to finish it off. Serve with salt, pepper, and parsley with a side of peas and potato salad. Yummy!
How to Clean a Musky
Using a sharp knife, cut the fish open from the bottom excretion hole just under the skin. Work the knife up toward the head until you have reached the breast bone’s center.
Open up the fish and remove the guts making sure you get all the insides out and discard it. Rinse everything properly inside and on the outside.
Remove the head, tail, and fins.
If you want to fillet the Muskie, it is important to remember the y-shape of the main bone structure. Cutting along the backbone, cut along the bone all the way down towards the tail. Cut from the opposite side at a 45-degree angle along the bone until you have one fillet detached from the fish.
Turn fish around and repeat the same steps on the other side.
To remove the skin, place the fillets skin side down on a chopping board. Cut a small insert horizontally between where the skin meets the flesh. Holding on to the skin, slide the knife forward while pulling on the skin backward until the skin is released.
Once filleted, it can be placed in a zip-lock bag or sealed container and stored in the fridge for two days or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Musky vs. Pike
Musky is part of the Pike family and is its largest member. The most distinguishable difference is in the tail. The Pike’s tail is v-shaped and is much rounder at the ends compared to the Musky, who has a more pointed v-shaped tail.
Author Note: Both have that infamous y-shaped bone structure, which, if not filleted correctly, will leave you with a mouth full of bones. Musky taste very similar to pike.
There is a hybrid species called the Tiger Musky, which is a cross between the Musky and the Northern Pike. Appropriately named, it looks like it has tiger-like stripes along its body. These hybrids are sterile and do not breed. Fish farmers breed these fish for stocking dams for sport fishing. They do not grow very old or as big as their parent species.
Detailed Musky Recipe
When catching and preparing Musky, as exhilarating as it is catching big ones, the smaller ones are the keepers. Musky of about 30 inches are the ones to eat.
The following recipe is easy and tasty! Some have referred to Musky as the poor man’s lobster in the past.
- 10-14 pounds of Musky
- 1 cup of butter
- Salt and lemon pepper
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease an oven baking pan.
Rinse fish properly
Rub salt and lemon pepper all over the fish
Place the fillets in the prepared oven dish. (for each pound of flesh, allow 10 minutes cooking time)
Baste the fish with butter – spread it over the Musky and place it in the oven.
Every 2 minutes, add more butter over the top to prevent it from drying out.
Bake until golden and cooked right through.
It is always a good idea to pair fish with potatoes. Mashed or baked, it complements the fish beautifully with a garlic sauce over the potatoes.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- 5 pounds Potatoes (peeled)
- 1 tablespoon Baking powder
- 100ml of olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ pound butter
- 5 cloves garlic
Boil peeled potatoes until tender. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mash together.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
Chop the garlic finely and add it to the butter.
Fry for 3min and serve over mash after dishing.
Nutritional Benefits of Musky
With 0% Carbs, 88% protein, and 12% unsaturated fats and fatty amino acids, Musky is a healthy fish to eat for those with low cholesterol. The amino fatty acids are linked to good brain health and could help fight against the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Author Note: It is also a source of Calcium, Thiamin, Niacin, Potassium, Selenium, Vitamin-B12, Manganese, and Phosphorus.
The nutritional benefits of all these minerals and vitamins is essential for a healthy, balanced diet. All these benefits could be outweighed by the way you prepare it and what you eat with it.
Are you going to prepare it in the delicious traditional battered style? Deep-fried with a mountain of mouth-watering salty, crispy fries? Well, your calorie, sodium, and fat intake might do you more harm than good if you eat it that way too often.
Musky is an opportunistic ambush hunter. It is found in certain rivers, dams, and lakes of Northern America. It feeds on any and all fish and waits for its prey to pass by before they strike.
Its mouth can open wide, and it has needle-sharp teeth. A muskie has a flat head, brown elongated body, white underbelly, and a sharp-pointed v-shaped tail.
It lives in the shallows of the reeds and grasses and also in deeper areas by rocks or boulders.
There are many different ways to prepare Musky, the most recommended way is to fillet it because of its y-shaped bone structure with fine bones. Once filleted and prepared, it has been referred to as the ‘poor man’s lobster’ because of its taste.
Musky has a high nutritional value and is packed with protein. It is good for your health, especially when prepared with complimenting healthy sides such as a nice fresh salad or roast veg.
We hope you enjoyed this article on what does Musky taste like!