Brewer Park Project Wins Prestigious National Conservation Award

OTTAWA, ON, Thursday, February 18, 2016Brewer Park Pond Restoration Project has received the Top Canadian Fishing Industry Conservation Project Award for 2015. This award, presented at the Spring Fishing and Boat Show at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON is determined by a vote of the members of the Canadian Angling Hall of Fame.

Award
2015 Conservation Award

For Muskies Canada (Ottawa Chapter) and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA), this is the second year in a row where one of their partnership projects has received recognition. In 2014, the partners were recognized for work to create nursery and feeding habitat for fish along the Jock River in Richmond.

“The Brewer Park Pond Project was a particularly exciting project,” says Jennifer Lamoureux, RVCA Aquatic Fish Habitat Biologist. “Rarely is there a chance to have such significant impact on habitat in the heart of the city.”

Work began in fall 2014 to return the landlocked Brewer Park Pond, a former artificial swimming hole from the 1960s, back into a naturally functioning habitat connected to the Rideau River. Project partners looked to increase overall biodiversity of the pond with shoreline plantings, breeding bird habitat, amphibian habitat, and prime areas for spawning, nursery, rearing and feeding habitat for local fish species found in the Rideau all year round.

“It’s pretty special for a city to have northern pike and muskellunge in their downtown waterways,” said Peter Levick, President of Muskies Canada. “We worked for many years to support a project of this importance in an urban setting and we are delighted with the partnership that made it possible.”

The project brings biodiversity to the heart of the city with new and improved natural habitat for all sorts of aquatic species and improved habitat for shoreline animals.

“Extensive work was done to remove soil and contour the pond to make it a more useful and diverse fish habitat,” commented Mrs. Lamoureux who oversaw the project. “But a great deal of planning went in to optimizing the changes so that many different species — including birds, turtles and frogs, would benefit from the restoration.”

“This work is only made possible thanks to the many partners,” acknowledged Mr. Levick — a sentiment quickly reiterated by Mrs. Lamoureux. “Without the involvement of many, we couldn’t get this sort of work done. We’ve had great interest and support and needless to say, we’ll be looking for another project in the future.”

This award was accepted on behalf of Richcraft, Minto, the City of Ottawa, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Muskies Canada, the Institute of Environmental Science at Carleton University, and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Special thanks goes out to the Ottawa South Community Association and the many community volunteers who assisted with tree and shrub planting.

Project Highlights:
16,000 square metres of new, functioning wetland and fish habitat in the heart of the City of Ottawa
1,000 truckloads of soil removed to contour pond into more productive habitat
1,600 trees, shrubs and aquatic plants planted in and around the pond by 120 community volunteers
8 weeks of construction from October to December 2014
basking logs, root wads and log piles installed as habitat for turtles, fish, amphibians

Photo available upon request. Contact diane.downey@rvca.ca

For more information contact:

Jennifer Lamoureux
Aquatic and Fish Habitat Biologist, RVCA
613-692-3571 Ext 1108
jennifer.lamoureux@rvca.ca

Fishing Jerk baits

I love going back through old Muskie magazines and articles looking for “new” ideas.  This isn’t rocket science.  The tools we use now are radically different and better than they were 20 years ago, but we’re still trying to fool an animal with a brain the size of a pea and get it to attack our bait.

I found this article in the Muskies Canada Release Journal  – April 1986.  I’ve always struggled with jerk baits and as a result, I don’t fish them that often.  The article is 30 years old, but I’m hoping it pays dividends next season …..

JERKS OR JERKBAITS

By John Parry – From Muskies Canada Release Journal April 1986

What kind of a person hurls a piece of wood on a line into the water, reels it in and does it again and again – all day long?

Well, if you’re not a muskie angler I think I would call you a jerk, however if you are a muskie angler you’re definitely a jerkbaiter.

Using a jerkbait is hard work if you do it all day but there are some ways to make it easier.

Rule number one is pace, think of how long you plan to be on the water then work the biat with the appropriate  vigor.

Rule number two is to not overwork your baits but to develop a consistent pattern with moderate pulls.

The moderation of the extent of the pulls will allow your bait to work well, help you keep control over the bait, make it easier to maintain your balance and will keep you from feeling like your arms and back had been run over by a freight train by the end of the day.

jerkbait_01

I mentioned the word consistent when I spoke on how to work the bait, this can mean different things but in this case it was directed at the setting of a specific pattern and following it.  If you do a pull, pull, pull, twitch, twitch, pull, pull, pull pattern follow it and build a rhythm with it and after a while you will find it quite easy.

I have also found gliders are the easiest type to work because they have virtually no water resistance and like their name glide through the water.

 

 

 

In contrast, the diving baits such as the Suick and Bobby baits have to be pumped down with very rapid pulls and quick reeling.

The vertical movement of these lures causes quite a bit more resistance in the water and can tire you quicker than the gliders.

jerkbait_02

The two lures have their own place in your arsenal and if used properly they can be very productive.  The diving baits are best utilized in areas where you want to get down to the fish such as at drop offs or over deep weeds.  In contrast, the gliders perform much better over shallow rocks and weed beds where their tantalizing side to side action can be effective without hanging up.

The understanding of why these lures work is extremely important to the way they are worked.

These lures are representing the muskies favorite snack, that is a wounded bait fish and must somewhere along the line give a reasonable imitation of them.

Injured bait fish do very strange things because in most cases they can predict their own future, such as someone’s dinner, therefore they give their last ounce of strength to get out of dangers way.

jerkbait_03

I have personally witnessed many injured perch, bass and sunfish on their sides attempting to dive to the safety of the weed bed below and after a very short period of time they mystically disappear.  These fish have all but lost control of their bodies, as they seem to gain buoyancy and lose their equilibrium.

This is what your jerkbait is attempting to duplicate, and that is why I have found an erratic retrieve in most cases will interest more fish.

The next problem we fact after getting them interested enough to take a good shot at trying to inhale your offering is how to keep her on.

This year I have been a good example of what not to do, because I ended the season 0 for 5.  All of these fish I had on and had hooks into, so call it what you want but let’s be kind and say I’m a very good sportsman involved in long distance release.

The truth of the matter is that the problem I experienced last year is a common one for Jerkbait anglers, because the weight of the lure combined with the problems of getting really good hook sets leaves the greatest odds of the fish escaping.

There are ways of getting around these odds, the first being the use of extra sharp hooks, these will make it much easier to penetrate the extremely hard bony mouth of the lunge with a good hook set.  The second is with tackle, a relatively stiff muskie rod combined with heavy dacron fishing line gives you that no-stretch and power combination required to drive home those sharp hooks.  I also use a good quality heavy bait casting reel, and this is a must, because a light reel will virtually fall apart internally when attempting to handle these big baits.

The grip of the rod is very important if you want to obtain the maximum leverage during the hook set.  A very good friend of mine, and might I say one of the best muskie men I know, converted me from the standard grip of cupping the reel to holding onto the top grip of the rod.

jerkbait_04

The new method of holding on to the rod felt very strange to me, but after a while it was quite natural and I really can feel the added pressure I am able to exert through the rod.

The playing of the fish is really no different than if you were fighting any muskie, only you must realize that if the fish jumps the odds seem to be much greater on you losing the fish, (I know that’s how I lost most of mine this year).

The next topic that I feel that I should mention is when and where to use these baits.  These lures can produce fish all year, but I have a particular preference for using them in the fall season.  This time of year is when the truly large fish become relatively easy to locate and are really hungry.

The way I discover these locations is first by marking on my hydrographic map the fastest breaking shorelines and then picking out the best areas to concentrate my efforts.

jerkbait_05

The inside turn on this shoreline is a prime fall muskie spot, as it is close to deep water and is not far from a large week flat area which draws these fish during the summer season.

 

 

 

The very fast drop off helps these large fish fee effectively at a time of year when weather conditions change very quickly.

jerkbait_06

 

jerkbait_08

In the summer with the more stable weather conditions, the muskie can travel further because once she gets to the feeding area the chances are that the conditions will not change radically and therefore she will not be in constant motion without feeding.  With this increase in the distance she is willing to travel, so increases the locations where you might find her and makes it a more time consuming process.

In the fall I have found that either the fish is in a location or she isn’t and within a few casts you will find this out and you can eliminate a lot of water very quickly.

These are but a few suggestions to make it easier to use these lures productively, but the main point is you must use the bait.  To gain confidence in it you will need to work it properly and you must feel comfortable with it on your line.  After you see the first lunge take a shot at it I’m sure you’ll be like me, hooked on Jerkbaits !

 

jerkbait_07

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Hugh C. Becker Muskie Symposium

50 Years of Co-operation

March 13-15, Minneapolis, MN

Registration is now open. 

Download the schedule of speakers (.xlsx File – 17 KB). 

Abstracts for all talks and poster sessions

Keynote Speakers


Trophy Muskellunge Populations and Fisheries Can Be Sustainable

John M. Casselman*, Queen’s University, Department of Biology – Kingston ON

Jonah L. Withers, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Thomas J. Howson, Trent University, Peterborough, ON


The Muskies Inc. Lunge Log Database . . . 370,000 Muskies and Growing

Kevin Richards*, Muskies Inc., Henley, MO

Juris Ozols, Muskies, Inc., Apple Valley, MN

Randy Lowewecke, Muskies, Inc., Rockford, IL

Jim Bunch, Muskies, Inc., Rochester, MN


 Anglers, Science, and Management


Going Wild: Canada’s Path to Sustainable Muskellunge Populations

Peter Levick, President, Muskies Canada Inc., Papineauville, QC


 Ontario’s Muskellunge Angler Log Program – 1979-2015

Dan Taillon*, Fisheries Section, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, ON

Davin Heinbuck*, National Research Director, Muskies Canada Inc., St. Mary’s, ON


 Characteristics of the Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) Fishery Based on Angler Diaries in the St. Lawrence River, Quebec (Canada).

Philippe Brodeur*, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, direction de la gestion de la faune Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec, Trois-Rivières, QC

Rémi Bacon, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, direction de la gestion de la faune Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec, Trois-Rivières, QC

Daniel Hatin, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, direction de la gestion de la faune Estrie-Montréal-Montérégie-Laval, Longueuil, QC


Volunteer Guides as a Novel Source of Data Collection for Riverine Muskellunge Populations in Northwest Wisconsin

Max Wolter, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Hayward, Wisconsin


 Muskellunge Stock Assessment in Two North-Central Minnesota Lakes Aided by Angler Participation.

Matthew C. Ward*, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Walker Area Fisheries, Walker, MN,

Loren M. Miller, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Research, and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Doug W. Schultz, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Walker Area Fisheries, Walker, MN

Carl A. Pedersen, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Walker Area Fisheries, Walker, MN


The Saint John River Muskellunge Tagging Project, 2006-2015.

Steven J. Kerr*, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (retired), Ennismore, ON.

Brandon Jones, Saint John River Chapter, Muskies Canada Inc., Upper Kingsclear, NB


Maintaining Momentum in Ohio’s Stocked Muskellunge Fisheries through an Angler Agency Partnership

Scott Hale*, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Columbus, OH

Kevin Page, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Hebron, OH

Curtis Wagner, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Akron, OH


A Management Tool for Biologists and an Online Fishing Resource for Anglers: An Introduction to the Ohio Muskie Angler Log

Curtis Wagner*, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Akron, OH

Kevin Page, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Hebron, OH

Edward Lewis, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Findlay, OH

  1. Scott Hale, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Columbus, OH

Integrating Voluntary Angler Catch Reports with Mark-Recapture Data to Model a Muskellunge Fishery in Clear Fork Reservoir, Ohio

Kevin Page, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Hebron, OH

Edward Lewis, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Findlay, OH


Assessment of a Riverine Muskellunge Population in Minnesota

Owen Baird*, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Brainerd, MN

Andrew J. Carlson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Brainerd, MN

Loren M. Miller, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Research, and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN


Muskellunge Habitat


Spawning Habitat for Muskellunge Is Far More Variable Than We Ever Expected – Even 2 Years Ago.

Jim Diana1*, Kyle Battige1, Paul Cunningham3, Patrick Hanchin2, Cleyo Harris2, Terry Margenau3, John Molenhouse1, Joe Nohner1, Nick Popoff2, Dave Rowe3, Ashley Rust1, Mike Thomas2, and Sarah Zorn1.

1School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 2Michigan Department of Natural Resources

3Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


Fine-Scale Features of Muskellunge Spawning Grounds in Georgian Bay

Dan Weller*, Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

Patricia Chow-Fraser, Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON


 Index of Nursery Habitat Suitability for Muskellunge in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron

John Paul Leblanc*, Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

Patricia Chow-Fraser, Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON


 Effects of Water Level and Substrate Slope on Availability of Suitable Habitat for Young-of-the-Year Muskellunge in Georgian Bay

Patricia Chow-Fraser*, Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

Dan Weller, Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON


 Habitat Use by age-0 Muskellunge in the Upper Niagara River, New York

Derek P. Crane*, Department of Biology, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC

Kevin L. Kapuscinski, School of Biological Sciences, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, MI


 Spring Flow Variability Associated With Muskellunge Recruitment on the Upper James River, VA

Daniel B. Goetz*, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Farmville, VA

Scott M. Smith, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Forest, VA


 Evaluating Spawning Habitat and Natural Recruitment of Great Lakes Spotted Muskellunge in Green Bay, Lake Michigan

Kyle Battige, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Fort Collins, CO

Jim Diana, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, Ann Arbor, MI

David Rowe*, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fitchburg, WI


Muskellunge Population Dynamics 


St. Lawrence River Muskellunge and Effects of Invasive Species and VHSV: Population Indicators and Potential Effects of Emerging Viral Variants

John M. Farrell*, State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY

Rodman G. Getchell, Cornell University – College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY

Emily R. Cornwell, Cornell University – College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY


Die-Off of Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in the Upper St. Lawrence River Caused by Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia, 2005–2008: Impacts and Consequences

John.M. Casselman*, Queen’s University, Department of Biology, Kingston, ON

Tom Lusk, Parks Canada, St. Lawrence Islands National Park, Mallorytown, ON

John.M. Farrell, State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY

Colin Lake, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Lake Ontario Management Unit, Glenora Fisheries Station, Picton, ON


A Modeling Evaluation of Multiple Threats to Lake St. Clair Muskellunge

Jason Smith*, Little Travers Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Harbor Springs, MI

Daniel Hayes, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Mary Tate Bremigan, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Michael Thomas, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station, Harrison Twp., MI


Effect of Stocking and Biotic and Abiotic Factors on Muskellunge Recruitment in Northern Wisconsin Lakes

Todd S. Caspers1, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

Michael J. Hansen2*, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

Steven W. Hewett, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries Management, Madison, WI 

1Present address: North Dakota Game and Fish Department, Devils Lake, ND

2Present address: U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center, Hammond Bay Biological Station, Millersburg, MI


Electrofishing Catchability of Juvenile Muskellunge in Northern Wisconsin Lakes

Janice Kerns1,2*, Daniel Isermann1,3, and Timothy Simonson4

1Fisheries Analysis Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

2Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

3U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

4Bureau of Fisheries Management, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI


Muskellunge Population Responses to Angler Catch and Release Practices in Escanaba Lake, WI, 1987 – 2015.

Lawrence D. Eslinger*, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries Management, Woodruff, WI

Greg G. Sass, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Science Services, Escanaba Lake Research Station, Boulder Junction, WI

Steven P. Newman (retired), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Science Services, Escanaba Lake Research Station, Boulder Junction, WI


Effects of Consumption-Oriented Versus Trophy-Oriented Fisheries on Muskellunge Population Size Structure in Northern Wisconsin

Matthew Faust1*, Fisheries Analysis Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

Michael Hansen2, Fisheries Analysis Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

1Present address: Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Sandusky, OH

2Present address: U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center, Hammond Bay Biological Station, Millersburg, MI


Haters Gonna Hate (Esox edition): User-group Conflicts and Vigilante Justice in the Age of Social Media

Brian R. Murphy*, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Sasha S. Doss, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA


Can They Play Nicely? Creating and Managing A Two-Predator System

Sasha Doss*, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Joe Williams, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Blacksburg, VA

Brian R. Murphy, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Vic DiCenzo, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Leandro Castello, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA


Muskellunge Biology, Ecology, and Life History


Feeding Habitats and Diet of the Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy): A Review

Steven J. Kerr, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (retired), Ennismore, Ontario


Tiger Muskellunge Diet and Effect on Target Prey Species in Curlew Lake, Washington

Marcus J. Divens*, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Spokane, WA

William P. Baker, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Colville, WA

Bruce D. Bolding, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA


Seasonal Movements of Muskellunge in North Bend Lake, West Virginia.

Scott F. Morrison*, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Parkersburg, WV

Lila H. Warren, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Beckley, WV


West Virginia Muskellunge: Findings from Recent Telemetry Studies

Lila H. Warren, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Beckley WV


Movement of Muskellunge in the St. Croix River System

Joel Stiras,East Metro Area Fisheries Office, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, MN


A Field Portable Non-Lethal Muskellunge Tissue Sampling Device for the Analysis of Harmful Environmental Contaminants

Justen Poole*, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Vincent Bessonneau, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Grandy, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Janusz Pawliszyn, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


Genetics


A review of Muskellunge population genetics: implications for management and research directions

Loren M. Miller.1*, John M. Farrell2, Kevin L. Kapuscinski3, Kim Scribner4, Brian S. Sloss5, Keith Turnquist6, Chris C. Wilson7

1 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

2State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY

3School of Biological Sciences, CRW225, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

4Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
5College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

6Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

7Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trent University Peterborough, ON


 Genetic Insights into Wild Muskellunge Populations in Ontario

Chris Wilson, Aquatic Research Section, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trent University, Peterborough, ON


Population Genomics of Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in the St. Lawrence River and the Inland Waters of Québec (Canada): Impact of 47 years of Stocking and Management Implications of a Trophy Fishery

Anne Carrier*, Département de Biologie, Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes, Université Laval, Quebec, QC

Anne-Laure Ferchaud, Département de Biologie, Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes, Université Laval, Quebec, QC

Philippe Brodeur, 2Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, direction générale du secteur central, direction de la gestion de la faune Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec, 100 rue Laviolette, bureau 207, Trois-Rivières, G9A 5S9, Canada

John M.Farrell, State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY

Louis Bernatchez, Département de Biologie, Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes, Université Laval, Quebec, QC


Muskellunge Genetic Integrity and Structure in the Great Lakes: Implications for Propagation Programs

Keith Turnquist1*, John M. Farrell2, Kevin L. Kapuscinski 3, Loren M. Miller4, Kim Scribner5, Brian S. Sloss6, Chris C. Wilson7

1Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

2State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY

3School of Biological Sciences, CRW225, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

4Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

5Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

6College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

7Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trent University Peterborough, ON


Curtis P. Wagner1*, Illinois Natural History Survey, Kaskaskia Biological Station, Sullivan, IL

Max H. Wolter2, Illinois Natural History Survey, Kaskaskia Biological Station, Sullivan, IL

Corey S. DeBoom, Illinois Natural History Survey, Kaskaskia Biological Station, Sullivan, IL

Matthew J. Diana, Illinois Natural History Survey, Kaskaskia Biological Station, Sullivan, IL

Michael J. Weber, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

David H. Wahl, Illinois Natural History Survey, Kaskaskia Biological Station, Sullivan, IL

1 Present address: Ohio Division of Wildlife, Akron, OH

2 Present address: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Hayward, WI


Water wolves and tigers: testing for directional hybridization and introgression between Northern Pike (Esox lucius) and Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy)

Cait Nemeczek*, Department of Biology, Trent University, Peterborough, ON

Joanna Freeland, Department of Biology, Trent University, Peterborough, ON

Chris Wilson, Aquatic Research Section, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trent University, Peterborough, ON


Muskellunge Assessment Techniques


Using Long-term Mark-Recapture Data to Assess Muskellunge Population Characteristics: Application to Two Illinois Reservoirs
Neil P. Rude1*, David C. Glover2,William D. Hintz3, Shawn Hirst4, Rob Hilsabeck4, Wayne Herndon4, and Gregory W. Whitledge1

Presenting author email: nrude@siu.edu

1Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL

2Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

3Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

4Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Murphysboro, IL


 A Comparison of Muskellunge Weight Estimation Equations to a Modified Length-Girth Technique

Jonathan R. Meerbeek, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Spirit Lake, IA


The Birth of a Muskie Lake: A Strategy for Assessing Survival, Age and Growth

Jordan G. Weeks, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Management, La Crosse, WI


Understanding Muskellunge Growth Using PIT-tag Recapture data in Lakes in Northwestern Wisconsin

Timothy Parks*, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Science Services, Spooner, WI

Jeff Kampa, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Management, Spooner, WI

Gene Hatzenbeler, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Management, Spooner, WI

Martin Jennings, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, MN


Assessment of Leech Lake Strain Musky Stocking in Lake Wissota, WI

Joseph Gerbyshak, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Management, Eau Claire, WI


A General Assessment of a Southern Riverine Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) Population

Jason M. Hallacher*, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Region 4 Aquatics, Verona, VA

Brad Fink, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Region 4 Aquatics, Verona, VA

Steve J. Reeser, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Region 4 Aquatics, Verona, VA


Population Estimate of Adult Muskellunge in Lake Bemidji

Anthony J. Kennedy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Bemidji Area Fisheries Office, Bemidji, Minnesota, MN

Andrew L. Thompson,, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Bemidji Area Fisheries Office, Bemidji, Minnesota, MN

Andrew P. Wiering*, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Bemidji Area Fisheries Office, Bemidji, Minnesota, MN

Gary C. Barnard, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Bemidji Area Fisheries Office, Bemidji, Minnesota, MN


Regional Management Approaches


130 Years of Muskellunge Management on Chautauqua Lake

Christopher Legard, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Buffalo, NY


Ontario’s Approach to the Management of Muskellunge

Dan Taillon, Fisheries Section, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, ON


Managing and Monitoring Muskellunge Populations in Eastern Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron- A Twenty Year Retrospective

Arunas Liskauskas, Upper Great Lakes Management Unit, Lake Huron Office, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Owen Sound, ON


Managing Muskellunge in MN: Deliberate Steps to Better Fishing in the Next Two Decades

Mike Habrat*, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Detroit Lakes, MN

T.J. DeBates, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, MN

Steve Mero, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Grand Ripids, MN

Jim Wolters, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Fergus Falls, MN


Trends in Muskellunge Fishing Tournaments in a North Central Wisconsin County

Dave Seibel, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Management, Antigo, WI


Managing Muskie on the Fringe: An Examination of Nebraska’s Efforts to Provide Quality Fishing Outside the Native Range

Keith Koupal, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Kearney, NE


Muskellunge in Eastern South Dakota

Brian G. Blackwell*, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, Webster, SD

David O. Lucchesi, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, Sioux Falls, SD

Matthew J. Ward, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, Blue Dog State Fish Hatchery, Waubay, SD


Muskellunge Propagation and Stocking


Realized Effects of Implementing a Genetic Broodstock Management Plan for Muskellunge in Wisconsin.

Justin A. VanDeHey*, Fisheries Propagation Science Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

Zeb Woiak, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Resource Center, Whitney Genetics Laboratory, 555 Lester Avenue Onalaska, WI 54650

Brian L. Sloss, Fisheries Propagation Science Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI


Paternity Analysis of Pooled-Milt Spawning Practices for Muskellunge Broodstocks

Loren M. Miller, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Research, and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN


Growth, Condition, and Short-term Survival of Age-0 Muskellunge Reared Using Two Different Techniques

Michael F. Vaske1*, Justin A. VanDeHey1, Dan J. Dembkowski1, Brian L. Sloss2, Tim D. Simonson3, Richard A. Klett4

1Fishery Propagation Science Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

2U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

3Bureau of Fisheries Management, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI

4Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wild Rose, WI


 An Overview of the Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Project

Gabrielle Liddle, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Aurora District, Aurora, ON


Poster Session


Influence of Habitat Additions on Survival, Growth, and Condition of Extensively-Reared Muskellunge

Daniel J. Dembkowski*, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Fish Propagation Science Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

Steven Fajfer, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery, Wild Rose, WI

David Ewald, Fishiding Reclaimed Artificial Fish Habitat, Wonder Lake, IL

David Rowe*, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fitchburg, WI

Mike Rennicke, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fitchburg, WI

Scot Stewart, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Fitchburg, WI (retired)


Predicting Abundance of Adult Muskellunge in Northern Wisconsin Lakes

Janice Kerns1,2*, Daniel Isermann1,3, Timothy Simonson4, Joseph Hennessy4, and Thomas Cichosz4

1Fisheries Analysis Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

2Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

3U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

4Bureau of Fisheries Management, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI


Long-Term Changes in Wisconsin’s Muskellunge Fishery

Timothy D. Simonson, Bureau of Fisheries Management, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI


Effects of a 40-inch Minimum Length Limit on Muskellunge in Wisconsin Lakes

Timothy D. Simonson, Bureau of Fisheries Management, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI


Development of a cooperative relationship with the Wisconsin Department of Resources (WDNR) for the purpose of side by side research of differential species of Muskellunge Stocking.

Winston John Hopkins, Capital City Muskies Inc., Madison, WI


Brood Source Identification and the Effects of Supplementation on Muskellunge in the Great Lakes

Patrick Hanchin1*, Brian L. Sloss2, Keith Turnquist3, Kevin Kapuscinski4, John Farrell5, Loren Miller6, Kim Scribner7, and Chris Wilson8

1Charlevoix Fisheries Station, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Charlevoix, MI

2College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

3Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

4School of Biologial Sciences, CRW225, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

5State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY

6Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

7Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

8Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trent University Peterborough, ON

The Saint John River Muskellunge Tagging Project, 2006 – 2015

January 2016 – Steven Kerr and Brandon Jones

A Saint. John River Muskellunge
A Saint. John River Muskellunge (Muskies Canada photo)

Executive Summary

This document has been prepared to summarize results of a muskellunge tagging project which has been conducted on the Saint John River, New Brunswick, from 2006 to 2015 (inclusive).  During that period of time, 691 muskellunge have been angled, tagged and released by members of the Sait John River chapter of Muskies Cnada Inc.  a total of 64 (9.3%) tagged muskellunge were recaptured by angling.  an additional four tagged fish were captured at the Mactaquac Dam fishway.

Most muskellunge were observed to establish discrete summer home ranges from which there was little, if any, movement.  Transitional movements are believed to occur during the spring and fall associated with spawning and the establishment of summer and winter ranges.  Muskellunge movements which were documented in this study occurred in both upstream and downstream directions in almost equal proportion.  Muskellunge also demonstrated the ability to move long distances both upstream and downstream including passage over/through the Mactaquac dam.

Results regarding muskellunge behavior and movements from this study, to date, are generally consistent with observations (small home ranges, males more sedentary than females, movements seasonal in nature, capable of long distance movements, etc.) reported from similar tagging studies in other North American jurisdictions.

It is proposed that future efforts be directed to obtaining more information on recaptured fish.  With additional recapture information, a more detailed analysis of muskellunge in the Saint John watershed can be completed.

Read the full report by clicking the link below (pdf)

St. John River Tagging Project , 2006-2015 (Final)

 

Muskie Fishing Tips

By Ross Nichols

New to the sport or a seasoned veteran, these tips should help improve your game.

1. LEADERS – Use a 3-5 foot leader for trolling depending on water clarity. 130-150 pound test. A 12 inch in wire or fluorocarbon for casting.

2. NET- One with a sizable basket for the muskie in your fishing area. Put some glow tape around the net and place a flashlight on the yoke.  When netting in the dark the net and fish will show up. If you are alone, once the fish is in the net, place net in Down East rod holder  and attach lanyard

3. RELEASE TOOLS – Have long handle, long nose pliers, vise grips for removing hooks in a fish or for “T” your hooks and a Knipex bolt cutter easily accessible for cutting hooks.  You will also need a hook out tool.   Tools can be expensive – tie a lanyard with clip to each tool and attach it to you net in order to prevent loss.

4. CAMERA- Have your camera ready for that photo of a lifetime, ensure that battery is charged and be sure to protect it during the cold weather from freezing. Take a release shot in the water.

5. When trolling at last light or night trolling, put a little glow tape around tip of your rod, when the light from your headlight or spot light shines on the tip you will be able see your rod action.

Feeding Habits and Diet of the Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy): a Review of Potential Impacts on Resident Biota

January 2016 – Report prepared by Steven J. Kerr for Muskies Canada Inc. and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Executive Summary

The Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) is known as a voracious apex predator.  In instances where muskellunge are extending their range, either through intentional or inadvertent introduction and natural range extension, concerns have been identified about the potential negative impacts on resident fishes and aquatic biota.  This review has been conducted to assemble information on muskellunge predatory habits and diet as well as interspecific competition with other species.

Muskellunge prey on a wide variety of organisms but prefer other fishes.  Predation is based largely on whatever species in available at the preferred size.  There is a considerable amount of evidence to indicate that Muskellunge prefer soft-rayed fishes and the availability of soft-rayed prey cound determine the degree of predation on other species.

Generally, there a few definitive studies to quantify impacts (if any) of Muskellunge on other fish species.  There is very little evidence to indicate that Muskellunge have a significant negative impact on populations of other popular sport fish species including Walleye, Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass.  In fact, there are numerous instances where these fish species successfully co-habit the same waterbody.  Since Muskellunge seldom occupy coldwater habitats, their interactions with coldwater fishes (i.e. salmonids and coregonids) are poorly understood.  This is an area which requires future study.

Potential negative impacts of Muskellunge on other fish species are probably related to the size of waterbody and the composition of the resident fish community.  Larger waterbodies and those waters having a diverse forage fish community seem to be relatively unaffected by the presence of Muskellunge.  The presence/abundance of soft-rayed fish species likely reduces the predation on other resident fish species.

Other fish species can have negative impacts on the Muskellunge.  Northern Pike are known to have a competitive advantage over Muskellunge where they coexist.  Young Muskellunge are also subject to predation by other fishes including Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch, Rock Bass and Walleye.

Based on this literature review several recommendations are offered.  These are related to initiating more quantified studies to document impacts (if any) when Muskellunge are introduced or become established in new waters, utilizing  new state-of-the-art techniques to determine diets and predatory-prey relationships amongst a broader range of fish community types (including salmonids and species at risk), and developing efforts to improve the public perception of Muskellunge.

The full report is available by clicking the link below.

Feeding Habits and Diet of Muskellunge (Final)

 

 

The Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Project

Introduction

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy; “muskie”) are native to Lake Simcoe and were once quite common.  Lake Simcoe had a commercial fishery for muskie in the 1800s, which closed in 1904.  The muskie population started to decline in the 1930s due to a number of factors, including harvest, habitat loss, and changes to the Lake Simcoe fish communities.  The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and forestry (MNRF) socked the lake with fry and fingerlings during 1936 0 1969.  The brood stock was taken from the Kawartha Lakes and this introduction proved unsuccessful, possibly because this strain was not able to co-exist with northern pike.   The recreational fishery for muskie on Lakes Simcoe and Couchiching closed in 2005.

lsmrp_017
Brent Shirley from MNRF Midhurst District (left) and Wil Wegman from MNRF Aurora District with one of the muskie from Gloucester pool used for egg collections in the spring of 2015

By the early 2000s, a feasibility study and a habitat inventory determined that restoring the native muskie fishery to Lake Simcoe was a feasible fisheries management goal.  The study noted that efforts towards habitat restoration include broader benefits for the entire aquatic community.

Why Stock Muskie?

Muskie are a highly prized game fish.  They were once a significant member of the native fish community in Lake Simcoe and the goal is to make that happen once again.  The objective of the Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Project (LSMRP) is to re-establish a self-sustaining muskie population which does not rely on continuous stocking efforts.   To reach this objective, MNRF is stocking muskie to facilitate natural reproduction, evaluating the muskie population in Lake Simcoe through time, and enhancing muskie spawning and nursery habitats.  The Georgian Bay strain, which utilize similar spawning habitats and co-exist with northern pike, is seen to be a goo fit for Lake Simcoe stocking.  Although other populations around Lake Simcoe were tested for genetics, Gloucester Pool (near Port Severn) was the lake chosen as the most feasible source of Georgian Bay strain muskie for egg collections.

Muskie Stocking

The LSMRP began in 2005 and continues through to 2015 with support of key partners including Muskies Canada, Fleming College, Orillia Fish and Game Club and the Ontario Federation of anglers and Hunters.  During the fall of 2015, approximately 4,000 muskie were stocked; more than in any other year previously.  this brings the total number of young, hatchery-raised muskie fall fingerlings into Lake Simcoe through the LSMRP at 15,673.  Locations for the 2015 stocking included: Barnstable Bay, Talbot River, Talbot River mouth area, south side of Georgina Island, Cook’s Bay east and Cook’s Bay west.

Raising Muskie

Typically, there are two hatcheries where the fish are raised -= Fleming College in Lindsay and MNRF’s Blue Jay Creek on Manitoulin Island.  However, one of the key reasons we were able to stock more muskie in 2015 was the addition of MNRF’s Harwood Fish Culture Station.  Staff here offered to raise 700 surplus muskies (from Fleming College) and they did a great job raising these fish which contributed to the overall total stocked.  All three hatcheries experienced excellent success.  Muskie raised in these hatcheries are marked with Coded-Wire Tags.  If encountered during monitoring efforts, these Lake Simcoe muskie can be scanned with a device by MNRF staff that tells them if the muskie is stocked or or natural origin.  Genetic tests will also confirm their origin.

2015 Egg Collection

The spring eff collection on Gloucester Pool in 2015 was extremely successful.  Staff from MNRG’s Aurora and Midhurst Districts (both are responsible for managing Lake Simcoe) combined efforts once again to set six trap nets to capture muskie for the egg collection.  Staff captured 11 muskies and enough eggs were collected (~60,000 eggs) to fill both hatcheries to capacity.  All muskie captured in the nets are quickly sampled (measured, scales and spine taken for aging) and then tagged before they are carefully live released.

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Of course other species of fish are captured in the trap nets as well and staff record their numbers before they are live released. Below are the results of the bi-catch for both 2014 and 2015

Species 2014 2015
Yellow Perch 71 21
Rock Bass 77 199
Pumpkinseed Sunfish 221 239
Bluegill Sunfish 6 22
Black Crappie 198 210
Northern Pike 150 249
Longnosed Gar 4 57
Common Carp 2 8
Brown Bullhead 1,195 1,106
Channel Catfish 3 14
Smallmouth Bass 83 132
Largemouth Bass 115 216
Walleye 0 216
Round Goby 1 0
White Sucker 1 0
Northern Map Turtle 12 26
Stinkpot (Musk) Turtle 1 3
Bowfin 7 19
Total 2,050 2,509

Total 2,050 2,509

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Muskies Canada began an Adopt A Muskie Program in 2015 that allows donors to pledge $20.00 to help pay for the expenses of raising these your fish.

During the course of the year staff from all three hatcheries network regularly with one another, which helps maximize their efforts to raise healthy young muskie.  This year, Mark Newell, the manager of the Fleming Hatchery even developed a Facebook page set up for stakeholders and the public to follow the process in his hatchery of raising muskie from eggs to 7-12 inch fall fingerlings.  Muskies Canada began an Adopt A Muskie Program in 2015 that allows donors to pledge $20.00 to help pay for the expenses of raising these your fish. To learn how you can adopt your own muskie visit:  Adopt A Muskie

Notables

  • Over the years, lessons learned from the hatcheries help build a strong science-based approach to wild muskie rearing for the Province
  • Muskie eggs, feeder fish, and a small percentage of fingerlings are tested annually for diseases including Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS). Once again, all fish came back disease free in 2015
  • In November, 2011 the Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Project was selected as the winner of the Canadian Fishing Hall of Fame, Conservation Award

Lake Simcoe Muskie Monitoring

MNRF has several ongoing monitoring and habitat enhancement programs in place through Aurora District and Lake Simcoe Fisheries Assessment Unit.

Prior to 2014, 1998 was the last year MNRF caught and sampled a muskie on Lake Simcoe.  In the spring of 2014 however, MNRF utilized an electro-fishing boat to target historical known spawning areas and captured, sampled, tagged and released five muskie.  DNA testing afterwards proved these fish were of Kawartha lakes strain – not the stocked Georgian Bay strain.  These individual fish likely came through the Trent System but were obviously thriving in Simcoe.  During the spring of 2015, three additional muskie were caught electro-fishing, but these to were of Kawartha origin.

Over time, MNRF has documented some anecdotal evidence of the occasional muskie catch from anglers who inadvertently caught (and released) muskie when targeting other species.  For example in 2015, a bass angler in Cook’s Bay caught and released a muskie.  This location is on the opposite end of the lake from where the Kawartha Lakes strain muskie were sampled.  Between this sighting and others that have been reported, there is a possibility that this elusive fish of the Lake Simcoe or Georgian Bay strain could be surviving in Lake Simcoe one again.

In 2016 MNRF staff and partners look forward to another successful year for the Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Program. Until then a BIG thank you to all the organizations who have supported this project over the years:

• Muskies Canada

• Fleming College

• Orillia Fish and Game Club

• Twin Lakes Conservation Club

• Lafontaine Fish and Game Club

• North Simcoe Hunters and Anglers

• Georgian Bay Hunters and Anglers

• Georgian Bay Bassmasters

• Gloucester Pool Cottage Association

• The Sexsmith family

• Ontario Streams

• Toronto Region Conservation Authority

• Department of Fisheries and Oceans

• Aurora Bassmasters

• Environment Canada

• Wisconsin DNR

• Midhurst District (MNRF)

• Aurora District (MNRF)

• Upper Great Lakes Management Unit (MNRF)

• MNRF Fish Policy Section

• Blue Jay Creek Fish Hatchery (MNRF)

• Harwood Fish Culture Station (MNRF)

• Lake Simcoe Fisheries Assessment Unit (MNRF)

• …AND OTHERS!

Muskie Fishing Changes Us (For The Better)

As I look back on 2015, it’s been a wonderful experience for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to have visited most of our Muskies Canada chapters and have been to many outings and events. There’s something special about Muskie People. They’re welcoming, generous, sincere and helpful no matter what chapter you go to. Why are Muskie People so special? I think Muskie Fishing teaches us some values that make us better people.

There’s something special about Muskie People.

Patience: You don’t stay with Muskie fishing if you’re not patient. The very act of casting or trolling often for long hours without result demands self-discipline and finally rewards patience with well-earned success.

Persistence: This goes together with patience. If you’re give up too easily, you might leave a productive spot too soon, or end your day early, just as those twilight fish are getting ready. If you stick with it, you’re usually rewarded with something good. Muskie success rewards persistence.

Work Ethic: The unfortunate stereotype of anglers is wiling away a lazy afternoon in a boat, beer in hand, with fish practically jumping in the boat. This is sure not the case with Muskie Fishing. How often do we come home after long hours of hard work, casting until our muscles ache, exhausted. Muskie fishing is very hard work. By the end of the season we’re inevitably in better physical shape thanks to all the exercise we get. Our willingness to work hard is what leads to angling success in the Muskie World. It’s not surprising that the best fishermen are usually the hardest workers.

Trust: We’re a “catch-and release” organization so we trust each other and don’t go to great lengths to require proof of your catch. This is a rewarding application of the honor system that calls out the best in us. Sure we joke around and tease each other, but what makes our club and its activities and outings work is trust.

Humility: if you have a big ego, Muskie fishing will humble you at times. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you’ll lose a big one, or go through a dry spell when nothing is working. It happens to all of us and keeps us all a bit more humble.

Compassion and Caring: It’s hard not to be moved by the sight of a big beautiful fish swimming away for another day. Seeing these big, charismatic mega-fauna inspires awe and appreciation for these special beasts, just like spotting an eagle or seeing a grizzly in the wild. Each is a rare top predator that has an important place in the bigger ecosystem. We like to see them go back after we’ve brought them in. We handle and release our fish because we care. We care because they inspire us with their majesty.

Seeing a big beautiful Canadian Muskie makes us grateful for how fortunate we are to have this wonderful resource around us.

Gratitude: The possibility of catching Muskies is such a privilege it teaches us gratitude. The more often we see and catch Muskies, the more we appreciate how fortunate we are. These great fish are not available everywhere. Our fish are wild fish, not stocked, which is even more special. Seeing a big beautiful Canadian Muskie makes us grateful for how fortunate we are to have this wonderful resource around us.

Stewardship: As Muskie People, because we care about Muskies, we are inspired to look after them. We know that they are rare and that their future totally depends on their ability to reproduce, naturally. Beyond minimizing our own angling impact on these fish, we worry about water quality, invasive species, loss of breeding and nursery habitat, dangers to young-of-the-year, water-level fluctuations, poaching and a host of other issues that might undermine the conditions needed for natural reproduction and re-population. These threats call on us to become more active as stewards, not only of individual fish that we may be fortunate enough to catch, but also of the lakes and rivers that are the aquatic ecosystems that these great fish depend upon. We only see an apex predator like Muskie at the top of the food chain if the whole system is healthy at every level. We work as best we can as stewards.

As a Muskie fisherman I have learned many things. These values may be the best part of what I’ve learned.

Peter Levick

President, Muskies Canada

Did You Know

Muskies Canada Release Journal – March April 2006

Sunny Afternoon: Many times during the summer, you find yourself fishing between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm in prime afternoon sunshine and boating traffic.  On busy water these can be less than prime times.  Even though this is summer, your energy and a muskie’s energy is rather high, you’d think fast presentations.  Under these circumstances, contrary to some views, this is time to slow down.  Focus on heavy cover type spots (heavy weeds, docks, shady rock areas).  The key is to work the selected spot with lots of casts.  It’s also wise to throw 2 or 3 different lure presentations at the spot.  Trollers can also apply this advice by slowing down and thoroughly reworking high percentage break lines etc…

Short line trolling

By John Anderson

Catching a fish trolling at 5.8 mph with 4 feet of line out off the corner of your boat is one of those things that you just have to see before you can believe it. I didn’t start trolling short lines seriously until the early 90’s. Last year, it became a game of seeing how short I could go. 12 inches of line off the end of the rod to a 12 inch leader was the answer.

If you don’t short line troll, you’re missing out on what is one of the most powerful learned behaviours in modern musky fishing.

It has taken many years and many varied experiences to understand why this technique is so effective for catching big fish in most conditions, and at almost any time of the year. If you don’t short line troll, you’re missing out on what is one of the most powerful learned behaviours in modern musky fishing. Man has taught the muskellunge to feed off of boat motors and boats.

How Muskies Learn About Boats

Consider the learning curve of a musky as it progressively relates to a boat and motor in its’ environment. Increasingly there are more and more boats on the musky waters we love and in many cases there is high boat traffic already. Muskies see a lot of boats and they adjust to them as simply a natural part of their environment. Initially, a boat is something to fear. It’s big, loud, aggressive, and often random in its movements. This is the perception of a baby goliath in her formative years.

The second benchmark in this learning curve is when the musky comes to the realization that a boat and motor never comes to attack it and thus it is not something to fear, merely something to avoid.

The author (left) and a guest with his first ever musky
The author (left) and a guest with his first ever musky

The third realization of a juvenile musky is that when a boat comes, most other fish scatter. Schools of baitfish break up and every fish’s attention is drawn to the boat. They are now distracted, even separated from the herd and vulnerable to attack. Meals can be had when a boat goes by.

 

It fears nothing and nothing attacks it.

The fourth and final step in this learning cycle is that a boat represents an opportunity to feed. When a musky reaches 34 to 36 inches in length, or about 6 years in age, it is ready to spawn for the first time. I believe that this is a point in the muskies development where it begins to grow its ego and attitude. It is now the queen or king of its domain. It fears nothing and nothing attacks it. The understanding of its position in the hierarchy of fish is clear; I am the biggest, baddest, fastest creature in the water and I rule it. A passing boat is now an opportunity to hunt.

The first time I perched high on the bow of a boat and searched for muskies was an amazing learning experience. It was on Pigeon Lake at a Can/Am event. Pigeon Lake has a lot of eager muskies and clear water and in the early morning hours, on a glass surface that shadowed beautiful thick weed flats, I began to search. To do this successfully you should have a set of great polarized lenses, your MCI hat, and a hood to dampen as much light as possible around your eyes. You should also talk with your driver and cover the safety issues in the event you fall in.

To my amazement, it did not take long to spot the first of many shiny emerald green beauties. This fish and a number of others turned off the side of the boat and moved out of the way at varying speeds and angles. Some moved quickly, others slowly and only a short distance. After about 20 minutes, I came across the first 4 foot class fish to enter my field of vision. Instead of peeling off into the weeds, this experienced warrior princess slowly descended to the bottom in 8 feet of water. She had seen this routine a thousand times and knew exactly what was going to happen. She rested comfortably as the motor passed directly over her head. I saw this process repeated many times over the next couple of days. Left: the author (left) and a guest with his first ever musky. 6 RELEASE JOURNAL

Jim McGlaughlin’s Just Fishing magazine had a great behavioural article written by a musky addict who has chased fish for a lifetime in Northern Ontario, Minnesota, and Wisconsin among other places, and has done so with a camera mounted underwater and off the side of his boat. One of his stories I remember was how daily he would have muskies come right up to his kicker motor to investigate. By now most of you have heard of a musky attacking an electric motor prop in the water as well. Stories like these tell you that muskies are curious by nature and are clearly not wary of your boat or your presence at least some of the time.

Have you ever trolled a bait off the corner of your boat and kept a vigilant eye on it for a long time? As I guide I have had a number of guests watch a prop wash lure short lined off the side of the boat for hours. I can recall one day where we did not catch a fish for several hours on an afternoon session of trolling but my guest got very excited 6 times over a musky coming right up to the visible bait but not eating it. Feedback like this tells you that you indeed have active fish in the zone you are hunting and you have a presentation problem. Adjust your speed, your lure colour, or your lure until you find what they actually will hit. In this case a colour change made all the difference for us.

Why it Works

Here is the answer to why short line trolling is such an effective technique for catching big muskies. Aside from disturbing the fish the boat comes in contact with and creating a ruckus of bubbles and wake with a big motor, I believe it comes down to the decision time you give a musky to eat your presentation eat it now, yes or no. Reaction strikes work well when you are casting and is evidenced when your lure hits the water and is immediately eaten. You startled the fish and instead of running away like most fish the queen of the water kills what startled her or at least gives it enough of a warning nip to find hooks. You don’t give the fish a chance to hone in on a presentation like it has when you long line. There is no ‘good look’ for the fish and limited chance to follow and inspect the potential meal or to use their keen sense of smell to decide if this is real. Yes or no – right now!

In the 70s and 80s nearly all the muskies I boated trolling were on long lines. It wasn’t until I started fishing Rob Dey and River Rat spinnerbaits in the early 90s that I had regular success on what I considered to be short lines at that time. We’re talking about 15′ to 20′. There were a number of people in Eastern Ontario who were pioneers in the technique and these distances still work great today.

Season opener muskie caught in eight feet of water
Season opener muskie caught in eight feet of water

This was considered a great early season and summer pattern around here, especially when the temperature climbed to 60 degrees (yup, I’m old and I still use Fahrenheit to talk musky temperatures), which was  somewhere around July 1st .

Learning to take advantage of shorter and shorter lines was a natural progression with this trolling technique. I can remember fishing with one partner back in the day who always made sure his line was the shortest distance from the boat, especially when we trolled spinnerbaits. If I let out 15 feet of line he would let out 12 and if I went to 11 he would go to 9. The thought here is that aggressive muskies would hit the first bait they saw and there is definitely some truth to this. A common short line distance now for me is 5 or 6 feet trolled right off the corner of the boat.

The How

Here are some tips for short lining: Ideally this works best for me in shallower water around cover. This is not cut in stone as I have caught fish in open water at 30 or 40 feet on short lines as well but since muskies are by nature sight feeders and an ambush predator they tend to sit in spots with cover where they can burst out at prey wondering into their vantage point. If you know of ‘spots on spots’, or very small areas that often hold a musky this would be a perfect location to short line.

When you see fish while casting an area or you otherwise know there are fish in an area but you cannot seal the deal. Remember, don’t tell the fish how you want to catch them.

Doug's short lined November monster muskie.
Doug’s short lined November monster muskie.

Change your presentation until you find what works when you are sure there are fish there. I have often cast a spot for as long as an hour and then scored on the first pass of the same areas with a short line troll.

Adjusting the tilt of your motor changes the sound, the bubble trail behind you, and the waves your boat sends out in its’ wake. Subtle changes like this can be a key to turning finicky muskies into picture fish.

As noted earlier, watching your baits can give you big feedback on whether the fish are interested in your short line presentations or not and whether you need to tinker with bait size, colour, or speed. Jake Satonica, the creator of both the Jake and the Grandma lures never trolls anywhere without a 13-inch musky coloured bait in the propwash. Personally I tend to short line with very bright colours that wouldn’t be described as ‘natural patterns’. Rod positioning in the rod holder can be a key and offers different lure depth presentation options right close to your boat. Keeping a rod tip high off the side of the boat can let you run your bait just slightly sub surface with makes it easy to see. Putting your rod tip 2 feet under the water can let you run a crank bait or diving bait down 5 feet with a very short line and close to the bottom or heavy cover in shallow water.

Drag setting is critical here. I am a believer in tight drags to get a solid hookset on the take immediately. With short lines however one must account for the weight and strength of a monster fish and ensure it is able to peel 30 feet of line away easily. Too tight of a drag setting can rip a slice in the fishes upper jaw which is bad for both you and the musky.

When your short line goes off you now have a very green fish close to the boat and no doubt you have other lines in  the water too. Ensure that there is a path for your short line fish to run straight back from the boat as it will initially do that won’t catch on another line in the water.

To sum up this trolling technique, I would say that if you are not short line trolling then you are truly missing out on a pattern that fools the big girls as much or more than any other way that you could drag a bait. Try it out because seeing is believing and many days the short line pattern will outfish all the other lines off your boat combined.

John Anderson

www.ottawarivermuskyfactory.com