Can you eat Muskie fish?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Can you eat Muskie fish?”. We will also elaborate on the safe ways for consuming Muskie fish, the health benefits of Muskie fish, and the risk factors of eating Muskie fish along with some tasty recipes.

Can you eat Muskie fish?

Yes, you can eat Muskie fish. However, it is not recommended to eat more than one muskie at a time due to the presence of high levels of mercury. 

Muskie fish concerning consumption

Muskie fish are consumable. These are also very easy to cook in a large number of recipes. A broad variety of recipes gives you wide options to choose the recipe according to your taste or whichever attracts you more.

On average, Muskie fish have a weight of up to 15 to 36 pounds which is almost 6 to 16 kgs. It can also weigh over 70 pounds. This heavy-weight Muskie fish can be used to make a tasty and healthy meal.

Muskellunge may live to the age of 20 years or more. They are highly piscivorous, residing at the top of the aquatic food web. As a result of their trophic status, longevity, and size, Muskellunge have an increased potential to bioaccumulate environmental contaminants, including mercury. Based on mercury concentration measurement studies of Muskies and their relationship to the average length / weight of the fishes, the consumption advice for both a 38” and 46” (97 and 117 cm) Muskellunge is 2 meals per month for the general population and “do not eat” for the sensitive population (1).

Is Muskie fish edible for all?

Pregnant or lactating women should avoid the consumption of Muskie fish due to the significant levels of mercury. Children should limit the consumption of this fish. Muskie fish is not recommended as a primary fish in the diet plan, you can only enjoy it once a month. As the bioaccumulation of heavy metals increases with the fishes age and size, it is expected that larger fishes are not recommended for the consumption by sensitive people (1). 

While catching the Muskie fish or angling them, you should follow the rules and regulations that would keep you protected from any kind of bad consequences or problems.

The alternative of Muskie fish

Pike is a very good substitute for muskie fish. It is less harmful as compared to Muskie fish. The harmful characteristics of fish also depend upon the area from where you are angling them. It is also a real fact that you might find more pikes in an area as compared to Muskie fish.

Although we considered the pike as a substituted fish for Muskie, you will also be surprised to know that both pike and Muskie belong to the same family of fish. That’s why both these fishes have similar tastes. 

Bass is also a similar tasty fish. If you like to eat Bass and pike then you will also love to consume Muskie.

However, these fishes are also to be consumed with restrictions. Studies on contamination levels of Arsenic and Mercury showed that these elements were present in both species, varying in concentrations depending on the tissue type (muscle or lipids) (4).

When is it okay to consume Muskie fish?

Muskie fish can not be a part of your daily routine due to some health hazards. So, you should follow some considerations that will keep you safe from the unwanted circumstances of Muskie fish.

Muskie fish is recommended for those who are 

  • more than 15 years old, 
  • for a woman who is not pregnant or non-nursing, and 
  • for those people who don’t consume Muskie meals once a month and 6 times a year. 

Before eating Muskie fish, you should make it clean properly and it should also be well cooked.

What is not considered safe concerning Muskie fish?

Eating fish may also expose consumers to harmful mercury (Hg), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other bioaccumulative toxic chemicals. The most prevalent form of Hg in fish is methylmercury, which easily passes through the placental barrier and has been associated with neurological, behavioral, and developmental abnormalities in children (2).

Muskie fish consists of a heavy mercury content that is not considered safe for human consumption. This mercury content is almost more than every other water-living creature such as other fish. This high content of mercury could be due to the food the Muskie fish’s feed upon.

Eating a high content of mercury can be dangerous for humans which can lead to different serious issues of the body such as numbness in various body parts. It can also cause blindness, tremors which could be defined as uncontrollable shaking, and it can also lead to double vision.

There are also more chances of pollution, due to the thick texture and large size of bones.

Due to all these reasons, it is highly prescribed to consume Muskie fish with care and consumption should be once a month. 

Fish consumption advisories recommend that sensitive populations limit consumption of high-Hg species, (i.e., basses, Common Carp >23 in, Channel Catfish, Northern Pike, and Walleye) to a maximum of one meal per month, while most other species can be safely consumed once per week. For the general population, even high-Hg species can be consumed once per week, and no limit is suggested for low-Hg species. Muskellunge is the only species for which sensitive populations are advised to avoid all consumption, while the general population is advised to consume both Muskellunge and Common Carp >23 in no more than once monthly (2).

Eating once a month does not exactly mean taking 12 meals of Muskie fish in a year. You should limit Muskie consumption to up to 6 meals in one year that will save you from any kind of health issues.

How can you regulate the Muskie fish?

Restricting the harvest of Muskie fish through relatively high length limits and low daily bag limits to promote the occurrence of large fish in the population. Only hook and line fishing is allowed for muskellunge. Restrictions on trolling also exist in many waters. Fishing regulations for muskellunge are varied, depending upon the growth potential of the population and public support for trophy length limits (3).

Some of the general instructions or regulations about Muskie fishing that are prescribed by the Department of Natural Resources are described below:

  • Government should keep it in the notice, strictly observing the fishing of Muskie fishing.
  • Anglers should not capture those Muskie fish that are of small size or below the 42 inches long that could be 1 meter long. These muskies should be released freely until their growth reaches a required level. This may vary, depending on the State. For Indiana, the minimum length is 36 in and for Wisconsin, 40 in. In Wisconsin, there are 21 waters (3%) with high density, slower growing populations that are managed with lower minimum length limits (28” or “no minimum”).  Twenty waters (3%) are managed with higher minimum length limits (45”, 50” or Catch and release only) (3).
  • All the anglers should be allowed to have only one Muskie fish each year.

Other FAQs about Fish that you may be interested in.

Can you eat mullet fish?

Can you eat monkfish?

Can you eat mako shark?

Conclusion 

In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question “Can you eat Muskie fish?”. We have also elaborated on the safe ways for consuming Muskie fish, the health benefits of Muskie fish, and the risk factors of eating Muskie fish along with some tasty recipes.

References

  1. Moses, S. Mercury-Based Consumption Advice for Wisconsin Ceded Territory Muskellunge. 2020. Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission.
  2. Stevens, Andrew L., Ian G. Baird, and Peter B. McIntyre. Differences in mercury exposure among Wisconsin anglers arising from fish consumption preferences and advisory awareness. Fisheries, 2018, 43, 31-41.
  3. Simonson, Tim. Muskellunge management update. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Publication, 2012, FH-508-2012.
  4. Charette, Tania, Maikel Rosabal, and Marc Amyot. Mapping metal (Hg, As, Se), lipid and protein levels within fish muscular system in two fish species (Striped Bass and Northern Pike). Chemosph, 2021, 265, 129036.