The name muskellunge conjures up visions of the north woods country of the northern United States and Canada and its pristine lakes and rivers. Well it should for this is the region that is famous for what is often called the king of fresh water fish. The muskie, as it is most often called, grows to a large size, up to 72 inches in length, and is an aggressive and voracious feeder. It is also a prize game fish.
The muskie feeds upon just about anything it can catch and can consume a lot of other fish and various forms of other animal life.
If you think you are up to fishing for the “king” you do not have to travel to the northlands, you can stay right here in Indiana and try your luck. Hoosierland has a number of lakes, as well as the Ohio River, that contain muskie that have been stocked by the D.N.R. While most of these locations are in northern Indiana, there are several sites in the southern section of our state, where if you are lucky and use all your skills as a fisherman, you possibly might land a muskie.
In addition to the Ohio River, where the muskie is stocked by Kentucky, there are muskellunge in Bass Lake near Sullivan and in Brookville Lake in southeastern Indiana, which has a variety of other game fish that can provide a great fishing trip. There are also a few other sites in pits and strip mine lakes scattered across southern Hoosierland where muskie have been released. Eagle Creek Reservoir, on the west side of Indianapolis, also has muskie swimming in its water.
The best muskie fishing, however, is in northern Indiana in the natural lakes that this part of the state is noted for. Not only is the fishing usually good, but also the lovely waters of our natural lakes, which is a gift of the glaciers that once covered this segment of our state.
The best of these lakes where the chance to land a record-size muskie are said to be Lake Webster, Bruce Lake, Everett, Loon and Skinner lakes. Even in these lakes you have to know what you are doing to hook and then land a large muskie.
The Indiana record for a muskellunge is 42 pounds and eight ounces. For a hybrid tiger muskie the record is 24 pounds. To ensure the muskellunge can reach a large size, the minimum size length is whopping 36 inches and in Lake Webster it is 44 inches.
Now I don’t fish a lot any more, but I have never caught any kind of fish even half this size and never expect to. A foot long to me is a sizeable catch. While the muskie is still known as the king of fresh water fish, we do have some other large species of fish in Indiana.
There are 19 species of game or other kinds of fish that are 20 pounds or over in weight in the Indiana record fish program. Twenty pounds, which is a lot of fish. I once caught a 12-pound carp and thought I had landed a whale. It took me at least 10 minutes to finally get it to shore with the flimsy fishing tackle that I was using. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to land a fish as large as 104 pounds.
That is the Indiana record fish caught in the Ohio River in 1999. There are said to still be larger fish living in Hoosier waters. This giant was a blue catfish. Other large fish in the Indiana record book include a 53-pound bighead carp taken in the White River in Pike County. A 54-pound buffalo came from Oak Hill Pond in Gibson County and a 79 pound, eight ounce flathead catfish was caught in the east fork of the White River in Lawrence County. Yet another large fish from the east fork of the White River was a 30 pound drum caught in Martin County.
It seems if you want to hook a record fish in southern Indiana the White River is the place to try your luck as a record 22-pound longnose gar was taken from the White River, also in Pike County, and a 15-pound silver carp from the west fork of the White River, which came from Greene County.
Lake Michigan is also a great place to try and hook a lunker. Its salmon and trout have been stocked to provide some excellent fishing. Lake Michigan records are brown trout, 29 pounds, Coho salmon, 20 pounds, lake trout, 37 pounds, and two fish caught in Trail Creek, which came from Lake Michigan, a 26-pound steelhead trout and a 38-pound Chinook salmon.
If these record fish are out of your league, you can still make the record book with a four ounce flier, one pound skipjack herring, or a one and a half pound warmouth.
As you can see, fish of all sizes do come from our Hoosier waters.