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Muskellunge fish or popularly known as Muskie is freshwater fishes found in the water bodies of North America. It’s a member of the pike family, which is evident from the physical appearance of the fish. It is one of the rarest fish, and you will need a special permit to catch one. It is not found easily and is scarce, though.
Now comes the question if you can eat them? And the answer is absolutely, but it surely comes with some factors to be considered. If you are okay with them, you are good to go.
How Muskie Looks?
The fish has an elongated body. The head lies far from the lateral fins. As stated earlier, it is a part pike family, which looks much similar to the pike from the northern part of the country.
Muskies usually grow slowly. But when they grow, they can have a body length of two feet to four feet. Because of the lengthy structure, they even weigh 15 to 16 pounds which is a lot. The rare giant once can be up to seven feet long, weighed 70 pounds.
The muskies are often camouflaged near the vegetation and are difficult to detect, with a slight greenish tint and distinct stripes and spots. Despite the unappealing outlook, this is desirable to the fishermen because of the heavy weight.
Where do Muskies Live?
Muskellunge grows naturally in many North American lakes and rivers. And yes, it’s a freshwater fish. This kind of fish lives in two different places in the water system in the summer. One is a small, shallow area between rocks, reeds, and grass. The other one is a large, deep house near stumps and rocks.
Muskellunge uses both habitats to patrol the area and stay within the preferred temperature range. When the temperature rises, they go back to the deeper house. They like to hide in the clear water and rest.
How does Muskie Taste Like?
It varies from person to person because of the taste bud and preferences of individuals. Different cooking styles might also have a strong effect on the taste.
However, the word in the market is they taste like cods. A muskie’s taste also resembles that of the taste of walleye fishes.
Can You Eat Muskie?
Here comes the burning question. There are some things to give a thought about before you choose to eat a muskie. They are stated as below,
If you want to eat muskie continuously, then you have to pay a heavy price. You will need a collection permit to get started. It must also meet the minimum requirements. You will be fined if you take it without following the rules.
Most lakes also have a limit on how many muskies you can collect underwater. These limits also help keep fish populations healthy and clean. Muskies can fall victim to overfishing easily because of their structure.
In natural waters, that means in their native water bodies, and they are strictly regulated and protected by baggage and size restrictions and legal and technical restrictions.
Muskies can harm other weaker species. There are many states where they are predators. In those places, the regulations are lifted. You may catch as much as you want. Otherwise, in their native places, you are advised to catch and release the fish.
Their food habit is yet another important factor. The food habit or the routes of muskies are not closely monitored. These fishes have a versatile eating order. They usually eat anything they can find. They are predatory and quite aggressive. It is not unusual for them to eat ducks, rats, mice, and other small animals. This is something to keep in mind when deciding if you want to eat muskies.
Next comes the biggest concern, mercury in their bones. Because of their geological preference, muskies can be found mostly where mining or coal extraction is going on. This often results in increasing the mercury level in fishes to an alarming level.
Mercury contamination is very common in fish, particularly predatory fish. The water is contaminated with mercury from harmful and unethical human activities such as coal burning and iron mining. And, fish that live in contaminated waters are also contaminated with mercury. And because predatory fish eat other fish, their mercury levels are much higher.
Mercury in eaten fish accumulates in predatory fish, which is why their bodies have high levels of mercury. So does the muskie. Muskies have comparatively thicker bones, so the mercury accumulated in their bones is also marginal to the permissible range.
Some states like Wisconsin even have a regulatory law about the consumption of muskies. According to their advice, pregnant women and children under 15 years, should not eat Muskies because of the present mercury level. They also limited the meals to one meal of muskie monthly and the highest six meals annually.
The next difficulty in the way of eating muskie is the strong odor. Muskies have a strong and unpleasant horrible smell that is hard to tolerate by most people. This stink can make it difficult to store the fish let alone processing or cooking it. You have to perform a thorough cleaning of the fish. Its skin, as well as bones, are needed to be removed before cooking it. This process can be troublesome to many people, so they opt not to consume this fish.
So, to summarize the whole thing, muskies are edible fishes. They have nutritional values and they are packed with proteins too because of their size. But the major factors concerning the consumption of muskies are the unavailability of muskies, the diverse eating habit, the mercury level present in their bodies, and the unwanted odor.
Though they have great alternatives like pike fishes, muskies can also be served as a tasteful delicacy if cooked properly. There are several ways to prepare a muskie. Muskies can be the next exceptional cuisine added to your dining table by following the allowed mercury consumption guideline and acting accordingly.
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