Anglers can begin fishing for muskellunge on Saturday, June 1, in Minnesota, a state known as a muskie fishing destination where inland water minimum size limit is 54 inches and committed muskie anglers might cast all season for a few encounters with trophy fish.
The DNR estimates that about one in six Minnesota resident anglers fish for muskie at least once per year.
Muskie are native to Minnesota waters, and they were present historically in many lakes and rivers, mainly in the north-central and northeast part of the state in waters connected to each other in the Mississippi River watershed. Muskie were found in all the major watersheds in the state.
While the minimum size to keep a muskie on inland waters is 54 inches, on specific lakes in the metro area the minimum size is 40 inches for tiger muskies, which are a sterile hybrid of northern pike and muskie.
Some well-known muskie waters include Leech, Cass, Winnibigoshish, Vermilion and Mille Lacs, and the St. Louis River estuary. Muskies are also found on many smaller lakes. In all, there are 99 waters managed for muskie and they’ve also been found in small numbers in another 50 waters. The 99 waters make up 21 percent of the total surface area of all the waters managed for fishing in the state – which means they exist in very low density considering Minnesota has 5,500 fishing lakes and several large rivers.
There is a strong catch-and-release ethic among muskie anglers, so fewer anglers choose to harvest these large fish compared with some other species. That’s one reason DNR included muskie in the catch-and-release length category of the state record fish program. The record length for a caught-and-released muskie is 56-7/8 inches from Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County.