"Differences in Pike & Muskie"
Excerpt from Fly Rod Gamfish
By Dick Sternber
Thanks to Cowles Enthusiast Media for use permission.
Archive of Panfish
"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
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,
and muddlers in sizes 3/0 to 4. Be sure
to use a nylon-coated wire tippet at least a foot long to
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