Can You Eat Muskie? Benefits, Risks, and 3 Tasty Recipes to Try Today

Have you ever wondered what beautiful cutthroat game fish like muskies taste like? It’s true that muskies are not very popular in the cooking world due to how people prefer to catch and release them not to reduce its already declining populations in lots of water bodies. However, anglers who happen to be kitchen lovers tried to cook muskies to know what they taste like. 

So you might ask, can you eat muskie? Yes, you can eat muskie. Muskies are edible and can be cooked in many tasty ways that appeal to fish eaters. Before you decide to keep a muskie for dinner make sure you’re not catching them in regulated waters where it’s banned to keep them.

Keep reading to know all about getting a muskie on your dinner table, and how to make the best out of the cooking experience like you make of the fishing one.

Can You Eat Muskie Fish? 

Muskies on a bench to illustrate can you eat muskie

Muskies are edible and easy to cook in various ways. You can find endless recipes online and pick what appeals to you the most or you can repose it to fit your favorite way of eating fish. Although some people don’t recommend it for several reasons we’ll get to later.

Muskie weighs in at 15 to 36 pounds (6 to 16 KG) and can reach up to 70 pounds (31 KG), so a single muskie can be a tasty meal that can last for days.

Many people confirmed that muskie tastes like bass or pike which is not surprising since muskies fish are actually part of the pike family in the first place. So, if you like the taste of bass and pike, you’ll love how muskies taste.

When Is It Okay to Eat Muskie Fish? 

Obviously, eating muskies requires some consideration to avoid suffering from unwanted consequences.

So when is it okay to eat muskie fish? It’s okay to eat muskie fish if you’re a person over 15 years old, a non-pregnant, non-nursing woman, or a person who hasn’t consumed more than 1 musky meal per month and 6 meals per year. It should be well cleaned and cooked before consumption.

Muskies can have an amount of mercury in them. Actually, they have more mercury in their bodies than any other freshwater fish. This could be due to what they eat which is basically everything in sight. They’re also susceptible to pollution because they have such large, thick bones.

Consuming a large amount of Mercury can be poisonous to humans and leads to health problems like uncontrollable shaking or tremors, numbness or pain in certain parts of the skin, blindness, and double vision.

This fact encouraged DNR to release a restriction of consumption to warn people of the possible implications. These restrictions include that it’s unsafe for you to consume muskies if you’re:

  • A nursing mom; the mercury consumption can transfer to your baby through breast milk. Mercury can be deadly to kids.
  • A woman planning to have kids soon.
  • A child under 15 years old.
  • A pregnant woman.

It’s generally advised not to eat more than one meal that includes muskie per month. That doesn’t mean 12 meals per year, keep it at 6 meals per year as a maximum not to be prone to unpleasant health issues.  

Before consumption, make sure it’s ok to even keep the muskie you caught. If you don’t have a government permit to harvest or your state bans keeping muskies you may get in trouble if you violate these regulations.

How is Musky Fishing Regulated 

So how is musky fishing regulated? Musky fishing is regulated by The Department of Natural Resources in states in which muskies are found. The DNR releases regulations regarding the possession and fishing seasons. Every angler can have 1 musky of at least 42 inches (1 meter) per year. The fishing season differs from state to state.  

The reason behind the regulation is that muskies are relatively rare in many rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. The DNR works hard to keep its population healthy and growing due to its management purposes in some locations.

To catch and keep a Muskie, you need an official permit from the government. You will also have to meet the special requirements of the water body you’re fishing in to harvest and be able to keep a muskie. Failure to comply with these regulations will result in fines.

These are some general regulations issued by the DNR regarding Muskie fishing: 

  • A government permit is a must.
  • Anglers must release any musky that is below 42 inches (1 meter) long to let it grow. 
  • Any angler is allowed 1 musky per angler year.
  • The fishing season starts on the first Saturday of June till March 15th in: All Great Lakes and inland waters, and St. Marys R.
  • The fishing season starts on the first Saturday of June till  December 31st in: Lake St. Clair, St. Clair R., and Detroit R.
  • Anglers who harvest a muskellunge should report it by going online to Michigan.gov/RegisterFish or by calling fisheries biologist, Cory Kovacs, at 906-287-0816.

If you want to verify which of these regulations apply to where you’re fishing and which do not, visit the DNR website to get the detailed regulations before you go fishing, whether you’re planning to catch and release or take a muskie home.

Are Muskies Good Fish To Eat? 

So, are muskies good fish to eat? Yes, muskies are good fish to eat, however, it’s important to note that muskies consume mercury that can be unsafe to consume in large amounts by humans. DNR warns against excessive consumption of muskies if you’re under 15 or going through pregnancy or nursing.

Regarding the taste, many people described muskie’s taste as a mild fish flavor with firm white meat. Their white filleted flesh has been compared to lobster when prepared with butter.

Muskie’s taste is not the only thing to consider when you plan to try cooking and eating it. The taste factor is quite riskless, it tastes like pike and bass and can be cooked in a way that enriches its taste. 

However, muskies are predatory fish that eat everything where they live. Muskies can consume toxic fish in rivers and reservoirs and reserve the toxins after their consumption. They’re known to feed on things other than fish as well, like snakes, mice, rats, and frogs. It’s been proven that muskies bodies have an amount of mercury in them, and consuming a large amount of it can be toxic to humans. 

How To Clean Muskie for cooking 

Taste is not the only mutual thing between pike and muskie, the way to clean muskie is very similar to how you’d clean pike. Some people insist that cleaning and preparing muskie can be a difficult task due to its Y-shaped bones that make filleting harder than it should be. However, I can make cleaning muskies before cooking a little easier for you with a simple step-by-step guide:

  1. Get a fillet knife. You can get a special filleting kit on Amazon that can enhance your experience.
  2. Remove the head with a vertical cut just behind the gill plate.
  3. Cut along the backbone with a horizontal cut ending at the tail.
  4. Cut ahead of the dorsal fin by another vertical cut. 
  5. Work your knife inside the fish parallel to the backbone in the middle
  6. Slice along the Y-shaped bones.
  7. Turn the muskie over and repeat the previous procedure to slice the other side.
  8. Cut the flesh around the backbone horizontally. It’s going to be easier by now.
  9. Cut the piece with the pelvic fins in half and get rid of the pelvic girdle.
  10. Remove all skin from all parts you’re done filleting.
Pro Tip
Add some vinegar and some drops of lemon juice to the musky filleted pieces after cutting them to kill any germs and reduce the unpleasant strong odor of them.

Make sure to keep a water pot near you so you can keep the pieces you’re done filleting in it. Use tweezers to remove any bones still stuck in your filleted pieces before you start cooking them.

It’s obvious how muskies can’t be fit for one meal due to their weight. Luckily, it can be placed in a zip-lock bag or sealed container and stored in the fridge for two days. It can survive up to 3 months in the freezer once filleted.

3 Delicious Muskie Fish Recipes to Try Today

Muskies’ taste may not be everyone’s favorite, but if you tried it once and didn’t enjoy it you can still try again in a different way of cooking where it can meet your preference of fish-eating in a better way. Here are 3 recipes of how you can cook these monsters in different ways whether you’re already a fan of muskie’s taste, trying to give it a second chance, or trying it for the first time and exploring what the fuss is all about.

Pecan Crusted Muskie

Ingredients:

  1.  2 pounds of musky fillets cut into serving-sized sections.
  2. 1 cup of pecans.
  3. ¼ cup of melted butter.
  4. ¼ cup of white wine.
  5. 1 zested and juiced lemon.
  6. 1 small minced shallot.
  7. ¼ cup of peanut oil.
  8. salt and pepper

How to cook:

  1. Finely mince the pecans in a food processor or chop them with a knife.  
  2. Combine the pecans, shallot, butter, white wine, lemon zest and juice, and a dash of salt and pepper to taste, in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Roll the musky fillets in the pecan mixture, adding a little pressure to the combination to help it to stick.
  4. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
  5. Add the fillets and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side until it gets golden brown.
  6. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Buttery-Lime Basted Muskie with Spicy Tropical Sauce

Ingredients:

The Muskie and Baste:

  •  2 pounds of muskie fillets
  • 4 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons of  butter

Muskie Spicy Orange-Pineapple Tropical Sauce:

  • ⅔ cup of orange marmalade
  • ½ cup of pineapple juice
  • 2 teaspoons of horseradish
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of coriander
  • Any preferred hot sauce

How to cook:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat the butter in the microwave just until melted. 
  4. Add the lime juice to the butter bowl and mix it. 
  5. Place the muskie fillets in a baking dish and add the lime and butter mixture with a brush.

Pan-Roasted Muskellunge with Bacon and Tomato Ragu

Ingredients: 

  • 2 pieces of muskie fillets, approximately 2 pounds.
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the bacon and tomato ragu:

  • 1 pound of plum tomatoes cut in half.
  • ¼ pound of cooked smoked diced, fat reserved bacon. 
  • 1 large diced leek.
  • 2 tablespoons of capers.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

How to cook:

  1.  Use a large pan to sweat the diced leeks in the reserved bacon fat over medium heat. 
  2. Add garlic and cook for one minute. 
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are soft (for five minutes). 
  4. Add the diced bacon and capers and stir until mixed. 
  5. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190.5°C). 
  7. Heat a large pan on your stove, and when ready, add the olive. 
  8. Season the muskellunge fillets with salt and pepper before you gently place them in the hot pan with the olive. 
  9. Move the pan to the oven, and keep it for 12 to 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the fillets to a serving tray, and top with the ragu. 

Cooking Muskie is much, much easier than catching it, and the latter can truly be tricky. To make it easier, make sure to check out my Muskie Fishing Tips here and my recommended & Trusted Muskie Reels here as well.

Why Do Muskie Fish Taste Bad? 

So, why do muskies fish taste bad? Muskie fish taste bad if not well cleaned or well cooked. Seasoning is very important in the taste as well so make sure to add rich flavored seasoning before you eat it. If the skin isn’t removed completely it might leave a bad taste in the fish flesh as well.

Despite Muskies’ popularity on fishing boats, it’s not very popular in kitchens. Few people gave it a try and they’re not on the top of the most eaten fish list, so you can’t form a general opinion of what muskies taste like. Some people think it’s mouth-watering, some like it in one particular way, others won’t even stand the smell of it. The only way to judge is to try it yourself.

7 Fish to Target for Eating Other Than Muskies 

Freshwater offers prominent options for your dinner table with healthy and yummy meals as well. These options vary in taste as well as they vary in shape and size; following the famous “plenty of fish in the sea” perfectly. You can try and pick your favorite from this list:

  1. Trout 

Including Brown trout, Brook trout, Rainbow trout, Cutthroat trout. Trout can be found in different lakes and reservoirs. It tastes good and has lots of nutrients that make it a great meal. Smoked Trout is the most popular way to eat trout, but you can cook it in your preferred way.

The most popular way to cook: smoked and fried.

Considering going trout fishing soon? Make sure to check out these excellent trout fishing lines beforehand, they definitely deserve a chance on your gear list.

  1. Catfish

Catfish has the advantage of being found all around the world, which makes it familiar in different cultures and you’ll find lots of multicultural recipes to cook it. 

The most popular way to cook: baked and fried.

  1. Crappie

You can fry, bake, smoke, or grill crappies in endless ways that meet your preference. The taste of it is delicious and rich, in addition to it being a very healthy meal.

The most popular way to cook: grilled.

  1. Salmon

Salmon is already a popular fish among millions of people. It has a rich taste, especially the Atlantic Salmon, and makes a great meal for dinner. Salmon is a superabundant source of Omega 3 and proteins and it’s highly recommended for weight loss diets.

The most popular way to cook: grilled and baked.

  1. Bluegill

Many anglers don’t know that beside being easy to catch, bluegill offers great taste and an exceptional dinner meal. It’s also easy to clean and cook as it is easy to catch. So the next time you effortlessly catch bluegill, think about the tasty meal that can be prepared afterward.

The most popular way to cook: pan-fried.

  1. Gar

Gar taste is a little different, so if you don’t like the strong fishy taste you’ll probably like this one. In fact, its taste and consistency are similar to that of chicken.

The most popular way to cook: grilled and fried.

  1. Northern pike

Northern pike is very similar to muskie, they even mate to create Tiger Muskie, so their taste is not very different from one another. Pike can be cooked in diverse ways that encourage you to give it a shot, but if you don’t like muskie’s taste, don’t go for pike.

The most popular way to cook: grilled and baked.

Note: check the state regulations of fishing for these fish before you harvest any of them not to expose yourself to fines.

Related Questions 

Does Muskies Taste Good? 

Yes, Muskies taste good if they’re well-cooked and cleaned. Seasoning is very important in cooking muskies and enhances the taste as well. Make sure to try the recipes of your favorite way to eat fish in order to judge the taste according to your preference.

What Does Muskie Taste Like? 

Muskies taste more like pike and bass. They’re very similar in shape, size, and origin so it’s no surprise they taste quite the same. Some people describe the taste of muskies when dipped in butter as similar to what lobster tastes like as well.

Helpful Resources 

DNR – Muskellunge 

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