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Younk, J. A. and M. F. Cook. 1992. Applications of an angler diary for muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). Investigational Report 420. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Saint Paul, Minnesota. 21 p.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

An angler diary program was designed and implemented using volunteer muskellunge anglers. Some of the design and operational problems and the corrective measures applied are described. Angler participation remained relatively low throughout the four year project. A total of 128 anglers participated in the project providing information on 4,912 trips totaling 56,508 angler hours. Participants averaged 14.4 trips per season with an average trip length of 5.6 hours. Catch rates were low averaging 0.027 fish/hour and 0.011 legal-sized fish/hour. A total of 1,745 muskellunge were caught averaging 33.9 inches in total length. Forty-seven percent of all reported muskellunge were 36 inches or longer. Most reported effort was reported at Leech and Cass lakes in northern Minnesota and Lobster Lake in west-central Minnesota. Expenditures were highest for trips to out-of-state waters and lowest for trips to Minnesota lakes.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Ward, M. C., L. M. Miller, D. W. Schultz and C. A. Pederson. 2017. Muskellunge population assessment in two North-central Minnesota lakes aided by angler participation. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:71-83.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

A population assessment of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in two connected north-central Minnesota lakes allowed evaluation of angler data when assessing various population metrics, including the residual effects of historical stocking efforts, as a nonlocal strain had been introduced into the native population during the 1970s. In 2012, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sampled and marked muskellunge using trap nets during the prespawn and spawning periods and electrofishing during the postspawn period, while anglers collected data from fish caught during the 2012 open-water season. Anglers released all fish after collecting a scale for genetic analysis. Micro-satellite DNA genotypes were used to differentiate individuals, thus identifying recaptures, and to estimate ancestry derived from the stocked strain. Anglers reported catching 16% of individuals marked by biologists. Of Muskellunge reported by anglers, 78% were from the lake where they were initially captured while 22% were reported in the lake opposite their initial capture. Postspawn movements suggested that more individuals migrated from the lake characterized as having preferred spawning and nursery habitat to the lake characterized as having preferred summer habitat and prey. The age- and length-frequency distributions of fish captured by anglers and trap nets were similar, while electrofishing sampled younger and smaller fish, likely because it occurred postspawn when many adults had moved off shore. The best estimate of adult population size was produced by a model incorporating fish length as a covariate. Density was estimated at 0.70 adults per ha or 1.92 adults per littoral ha. Higher percentages of nonlocal ancestry were associated with smaller maximum size potential (L∞ ) in von Bertalanffy growth models. Our study described key population characteristics for a muskellunge population while demonstrating that anglers could reliably collect several specific types of data that supplement data collected by management agencies.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Muskies Canada Inc 2019. Angler log program

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

Participation in the Log Program shows the commitment and responsibility of Muskies Canada members in managing, conserving and protecting our fishery. Catch per Unit Effort (CUE) can be used to monitor trends in local fisheries. As a general rule, information collected becomes more valuable over time. As with the last major VHS (viral hemorrhage Septicemia) die-off through Ontario, the data collected through the log program has been used to assess impacts of the virus on waters such as the St. Lawrence River, Niagara River and Lake St. Clair.

Participation rates in the program have varied from year to year; however, the trend continues to show an increase in log submissions . Log sheet submissions in 2012 totaled 2,202, representing over 20,000 angling hours and over 1,200 muskies. In fact, over the last 5 seasons, the program has averaged over 2000 logs per year, a total of nearly 100,000 hours and over 5,000 muskies. In total, Muskies Canada anglers have logged over 32,000 days on the water. This is the single largest source of Muskellunge Data available to the MNR. The on-line submission will allow data inputs to be accurate and of the highest standard of quality. We encourage all release directors to promote participation at the chapter level so that we can continue to provide the best possible data to our fisheries managers.

Further, many top muskie anglers make no secret of the importance of recording fishing logs for patterning fish in their target waterbodies, and in a variety of weather and seasons. The knowledge gained from not only keeping good records, but interpreting those records will undoubtedly make you a better angler.

For more information on the Log Program, please speak to you chapter’s Release Director at a future chapter meeting about how you can get involved in the protection and management of this valuable resource. For more information on the Log Program, please email our National Research Director for further information @ mci-research@hotmail.com

voluntary-angler-diaries

Mosindy, T. E. and M. J. Duffy. 2007. The use of angler diary surveys to evaluate long-term changes in muskellunge populations on Lake of the Woods, Ontario. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:61-69.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

Reported improvements in the muskellunge angling fishery on Lake of the Woods, Ontario over the last two decades have paralleled an increase in the practice of catch and release angling, and an increase in minimum size regulations for this species. The overall status of muskellunge populations in this large, complex lake has proven difficult to monitor using standard assessment methods. A volunteer muskellunge angler diary program, established in 1988, has provided a cost effective method of gathering a large amount of information with which to track this fishery and associated populations. Results from angling diaries indicated increased angling effort, catch and success rates for muskellunge on Lake of the Woods since the early 1990s. Although the month of July accounted for the majority of angling effort and catch, angling success rates and sizes of fish reported in diaries improved monthly into the late fall. Angling success rates were consistently higher in angling diaries than from creel surveys, but both survey types showed similar long-term trends in the fishery. Angler diary data, incorporating both the numbers of fish caught and/or seen by anglers, were used to calculate catch equality indices which proved to be sensitive to changes in population abundance. Increased minimum length regulations for muskellunge during 1987–2001 have been largely responsible for a decline in harvest rates from an estimated 36% in 1986 to 0% since 1999. Although higher size limits have yet to produce more quality-sized fish in angler catches, diary survey data, supported by recent improvements in catch rates from assessment gill nets, would indicate that muskellunge recruitment has increased. This article concludes with a brief review of how muskellunge angler diary data has been used in the past, including recommendations to minimize biases associated with this survey method.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Kerr, S. J., D. Heinbuck and S. Powell. 2010. Ontario’s 2009 volunteer muskellunge angler diary program. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 8 p.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

One hundred and eighty-seven voluntter anglers reported 16,609 rod hours of angling effort on 51 Ontario waters in 2009. A total of 964 muskellunge were landed. Based on the reported angling effort, the catch rate expressed in terms of catch-per-unit-of-effort (CUE) was 0.58 fish/rod hour. All but two angled muskellunge were released alive. One muskellunge was harvested and the other died after handling. A total of 44 muskellunge exceeding 50 inches in length were reported. They were angled from Lake St. Clair (16), Ottawa River (13), St, Lawrence River (6), Lake NNipissing (3), French River (2), Rice Lake n(2) and the Thames River (s). The largexst muskellunge reported in 2009 measured 59.3 inches in length. The mean size of muskellunge angled from Ontario waters in2009 was 37.2 inches. Lamprey attacke was evidence in ten muskellunge angled from the Ottawa River. Six of the fish had lamprey attached when they were landed. Red sores, presumed to be lymphosarcoma, were recorded for five rfish (Pickerel, Rideau River, Scugog Lake, St. Lawrence River and Buckhhorn Lake). This represents an observed infection rate of 0.7%.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Kerr, 2007. Characteristics of Ontario muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) fisheries based on volunteer angler diary information. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:61-69.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

This paper consolidates and summarizes information on Ontario muskellunge, Esox masquinongy, sport fisheries derived from angler diary programs sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) and Muskies Canada Incorporated (MCI) from 1979 to 2004. Interest in muskellunge as a sport fish has increased substantially over the past 10–15 years. Muskellunge catches were found to be highly correlated with angling effort. Catch rates, expressed in terms of catch-per-unit-of-effort (CUE), have improved over the past decade to the point where, in 2001, the provincial CUE was 0.119. The long term catch rate is 0.069. This improvement in angling quality is attributed to new minimum size limit regulations and increased catch-and-release angling practices. Over the period from 1979–2004, release rates by muskellunge anglers have averaged 94%. Based on a sample size of 9,499 fish, the mean size of angled muskellunge over the past 26 years was 37.0 inches (94 cm). Numerous fish exceeding 50 inches (127 cm) are angled from Ontario waters each year. The incidence of lymphosarcoma, a highly contagious, malignant blood cancer, has averaged only 2% since 1979. Based on an analysis of this information, Ontario’s muskellunge fisheries appear to be stable and sustainable. Volunteer angler diary programs provide an accurate and cost-effective means to monitor the status of muskellunge fisheries in Ontario

voluntary-angler-diaries

Jansen, T., R. Arlinghaus, T. D. Als and C. Skov. 2013. Voluntary log books reveal long term changes in a lentic pike (Esox lucius) population Fisheries Management and Ecology 20:125-136.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

Sixty‐two years of voluntarily collected angling logbook data from a large natural D anish lake were used to study variation in pike, Esox lucius, CPUE (catch per unit effort), expressed as no. of captured pike per boat trip, as an index of stock size. Pike CPUE was positively related to pike release rate by anglers and negatively affected by certain commercial fishers. The stocking of young‐of‐the‐year pike and a fishery‐dependent index of perch, P erca fluviatilis, abundance (which may be pike prey or predator depending on size) did not correlate with pike CPUE . Analyses of the size distribution of pike, based on sizes of annual record trophy pike captured by anglers, confirmed the negative impact of commercial pike fishing and revealed a positive influence of air temperature. It is concluded that high‐quality angler logbooks that record effort and catch can be a cost‐effective tool to inform lake fisheries management by revealing long‐term population trends. Further, state space modelling, a statistical technique not yet seen in recreational fisheries science, is recommended as a tool to model proxies for population dynamics from angler logbook data.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Duffy, M. and T. Mosindy. 2001. 1988–1999 Lake of the Woods musky angler diary surveys. Northwest Science and Technology Aquatics Update 2001–01. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Kenora, Ontario. 6 p.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

Muskie diaries were distributed to resorts and guides on Lake of the Woods before the season opened in 1988, 1995, 1996 and 1999. Resort managers were encouraged to have their guests who were muskie anglers to complete a diary after each fishing trip. The percentage of diaries which have been completed and returned has increased indicating a greater acceptance of the program. Data were returned from 8 resorts in 1988, 16 resorts in 1995-96 and 20 resorts in 1999. The number of muskies recorded caught increased from 273 in 1988 to 442 in 1995-96 and 932 in 1999. Angler origin has remained relatively constant. Over 95% of participating anglers are non-residents from the United States with the remainder from Ontario. The number of guided trips has also increased from 17.2% in 1988 to 18.6% in 1995-96 and 22.2% iin 1999. Catch-per-unit-of-effort, expressed as the number of fish caught per angler hour, averaged 0.043 in 1999 compared to 0.038 in 1995-96. Both values are lower than the CUE of 0.057 from the 1988 diary survey. A comparison of length at capture throughout the diary program has indicated that an increasing percentage of smaller muskies are being caught. Muskies in the angler diary program averaged 1,013 mm long in 1988, 970 in 1995-96 and 969 in 1999. Although greater numbers of large fish have yet to be caught, it would appear that increased numbers of fish are being recruited into the fishery.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Cooke, S. J., W. I. Dunlop, D. Macclennan and G. Power. 2000. Applications and characteristics of angler diary programmes in Ontario. Fisheries Management and Ecology 7(6):473-487.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

Angler diary programmes (n =46, 1979–1997) implemented in Ontario by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are reviewed, and the different uses of angler diary programmes, levels of participation and differences in programme design are reported. In Ontario, angler diary use is common, but successful application is limited. This review revealed a variety of uses and approaches for administering angler diary programmes. Problems arise when programmes are initiated without the complete commitment of the administrators and agency, or when there is no regular review so adaptive changes can be made. If administrators realize the potential biases and problems associated with diaries, and design programmes to control them, angler diaries can provide favorable cost‐effective results. With reduced funding and staffing constraints, angler diary programmes could become the primary method of data collection for specialized and remote fisheries.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Connelly, N. A. and T. L. Brown. 1995. Use of angler diaries to examine biases associated with 12-month recall on mail questionnaires. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 124:413-422

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

A comparison of diary and mail methodologies for a cohort of anglers who fished Lake Ontario was used to examine biases associated with 12-month recall from mail questionnaires. Significant differences in estimates were found between estimates reported by respondents in diaries (1992) versus mail questionnaires (1991) for number of days fished and fish consumption, but not for fishing expenditures and catch. After the data were adjusted for a decline in fishing on Lake Ontario between 1991 and 1992, it was found that angler-days were overestimated by 44–45% on the 12-month recall mail questionnaire. This percentage can serve as an initial estimate of a correction factor for future studies. Lower average annual fish consumption rates were reported in the diary year compared with the mail questionnaire year. However, because of the lower percentage of meals of sport-caught fish during the diary year and the knowledge that sportfishing declined in 1992 for Lake Ontario anglers, it is not clear what portion of the decline can be attributed to different factors. A rough estimate of 10% can be obtained by assuming that consumption of fish that were not sport caught was the same in both years and that anglers accurately reported the overall percentage of that consumption in 1991. Less avid anglers had a very small positive discrepancy between their mail (1991) and their diary (1992) estimates of fishing participation, whereas anglers who fished more frequently had a much larger positive discrepancy. With these data, the best mathematical procedure for describing that relationship involved regressing the square root of days fished in 1991 against days fished in 1992.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Bray, G. S. and H. L. Schramm. 2001. Evaluation of a statewide volunteer angler diary program for use as a fishery assessment tool. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 21:606–615.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

We implemented a statewide volunteer angler diary program for the 1995 fishing season to determine whether angler diaries can provide data that are useful for the management of the principal sport fishes in waters throughout Mississippi. Of 1,153 anglers volunteering to participate, 224 (19%) returned diaries with at least one recorded fishing trip that was usable for data analysis. We found no significant (P < 0.05) correlations between angler diary catch per unit effort (CPUE; fish/h) and creel survey or electrofishing CPUE for black bass Micropterus spp. and crappies Pomoxis spp. The length distributions of black bass reported by anglers were similar to those obtained from electrofishing samples at five of seven reservoirs when fish smaller than 250 mm were excluded from the comparisons. The length distributions of crappies obtained from diary reports were different from those obtained from electrofishing samples. Low participation by anglers for catfish (Ictaluridae) and sunfish Lepomis spp. precluded similar analyses for those species. The participating anglers differed from the general angling public in Mississippi, possibly biasing estimates of catch rate. Although angler diaries may have value for monitoring angler catch rate trends for diverse types of anglers and in numerous water bodies, our results show that angler diary data should not be used to replace traditional fishery assessment data.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Stocek, R. F., P. J. Cronin and P. D. Seymour. 1999. The muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) distribution and biology of a recent addition to the ichthyofauna of New Brunswick. Canadian Field Natualist 13:230-234.

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Distribution and Range

The muskellunge, Esox masquinongy, has invaded the Saint John River of New Brunswick in the last decade. Introduced as fingerlings into a small lake in the river system in the Province of Quebec, the fish moved downstream, increasing tlle species’ range and abundance. At least 60 fish have been collected in New Brunswick since 1988, most at hydroelectric dams in tl1e upper and middle stretches of the river. A limited summer and winter fishery for Muskellunge has developed in a lake in the nortllwestern part of the province. Lengths-at-age suggest that the river fish are growing rapidly. The oldest fish was VI+. Some fish of both sexes appear to mature at age III+. The presence of young-of-the-year fish and tl1e condition of the gonads indicate that spawning has occurred and that the muskie is capable of establishing self-sustaining local populations in the river.

distribution-and-range

Mandrak, N. E. and E. J. Crossman. 1992. Postglacial dispersal of freshwater fishes into Ontario. Canadian Journal of Zoology 70:2247-2259.

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Distribution and Range

The present-day distributions of 117 native freshwater fishes in Ontario have been shaped by processes active following the Wisconsinan glacial period, 80,000 years before present. During this glacial period, these species survived in unglaciated réfugia. To understand the processes that resulted in the recolonization of Ontario by fishes following the last glacial period, the refugial areas occupied by each species were determined using a refugial index, and glacial water bodies used as dispersal routes were identified. The refugial origins of the Ontario populations of 91 species were resolved. Seventy-two species resided in the Mississippian refugium, 13 species in the Atlantic Coastal refugium, 4 species in dual Atlantic Coastal – Mississippian refugia, 1 species in a Missourian refugium, and 1 species in Atlantic Coastal, Mississippian, and Missourian refugia. These conclusions differed significantly from those of other studies. Five general patterns were identified from the distributions of 104 species. In addition, there are 13 species that do not fit any of the general patterns. Most species with similar distributions in Ontario shared the same refugia and dispersal routes in eastern North America, therefore it is hypothesized that historical processes were important in shaping the present-day distributions of Ontario freshwater fishes. 

distribution-and-range

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 1987. Atlas of muskellunge lakes in Ontario. Fisheries Branch. Toronto, Ontario. 33 p.

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Distribution and Range

This atlas represents our understanding of the distribution of muskellunge lakes in Ontario as of September, 1987. This record was compiled from the lake inventory data base with additions and amendments made by district staff.

distribution-and-range

Kerr, S. J. 2011. Distribution and management of muskellunge in North America: An overview. Fisheries Policy Section. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 27 p. + appendices.

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Distribution and Range

This report has been prepared to document current muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) distribution in North America as well as summarize and compare management approaches used in various jurisdictions. This is not the first survey, regarding muskellunge management activities in North America, to be conducted. A similar agency questionnaire was carried out by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in 1985 (Ragan et al. 1986). The Esocid Technical Committee, Northcentral Division, American Fisheries Society, compiled information on esocid research and management in 1992 (ETC 1992), esocid angling regulations in 1995 (ETC 1997a), and esocid stocking in 1996 (ETC 1997b). I am also aware of a mail survey conducted in 1981 (Miller 1983) but was unable to obtain results from that undertaking. Information contained in this report was derived from a number of sources including a survey of state/provincial staff (conducted during the fall of 2010), an internet search of muskellunge regulations in various jurisdictions, and a review of published literature. Completed surveys were received from 59 individuals (see Appendix 1) representing 56 different North American jurisdictions. In most instances, a single response was received from an individual jurisdiction. In other cases, several responses were received and combined to form a provincial or state response. Survey responses were not received from Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and South Carolina. Much of the outstanding information (e.g., number of muskellunge waters, numbers of fish stocked, etc.) for non-responding jurisdictions was obtained from agency websites.

distribution-and-range

Kerr, S.J. and C.H. Olver [eds.]. 1996. Managing muskies in the ’90s. Workshop Proceedings. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southern Region Science & Technology Transfer Unit Workshop Proceedings WP-007. 169 p.

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Workshops and Conferences

The muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) enjoys an almost mystical reputation among Ontario anglers. It’s elusive nature, voracious appetite, fighting qualities when hooked and ability to attain an immense size all contribute to its stature as one of the most highly prized fish species in Ontario. In addition to its value from a recreational aspect, muskellunge also provide direct economic benefits estimated at several million dollars in Ontario annually (Scott and Crossman 1973). The distribution of muskellunge in Canada is confined to small portions of northwestern Ontario and western Quebec as well as the lower Great Lakes and inland waters of southern Ontario (Crossman 1978). They are known to exist in 302 inland lakes and several river systems in Ontario (OMNR 1987). Perhaps with no other species of fish is the partnership more evident between researchers, anglers and managers than is the case with muskellunge. Muskies Inc. and, more recently, Muskies Canada Inc., have a long and distinquished history of data collection, public education and support of muskellunge research. Two earlier symposia have established benchmarks in the knowledge of muskellunge and the fisheries they provide. The “Coolwater Fishes of North America Symposium” (AFS 1978) was held at St. Paul, Minnesota in 1978. In 1984, the first major collaborative effort to assemble and synthesize information solely on muskellunge was the “Managing Muskies” symposium held at LaCrosse, Wisconsin (AFS 1986). Discussions are currently underway for a second international muskellunge symposium in 1997.

A two-day workshop, entitled “Managing Muskies in the ’90s” was held at the Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology onAugust 16-17, 1995. The workshop was organized by the Science & Technology Transfer Unit, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and sponsored by local chapters of Muskies Canada Inc. This workshop was organized to assemble a mix of researchers, managers, anglers and selected outdoor writers to transfer results of current and ongoing muskellunge research and discuss issues regarding management of the species. The format included formal presentations by 17 individual speakers from Quebec, New York, Wisconsin and across Ontario. Presentations were grouped according to the general topics of management strategies, movements and habitat utilization and status reports on different fisheries. The second component of the agenda involved breaking into informal discussion groups to discuss two current management issues: (i) Muskellunge Stocking: Is it a viable option? and (ii) Size limits: Do they work? The interest in muskellunge was evident by the fact that at least 75 people attended the workshop. These proceedings have been prepared to disseminate information presented to those who were unable to attend. It is hoped that this document will provide useful information for future management of this “noble” fish

workshops-and-conferences

Midwood, J. D., Kerr, S. J., P. Levick, and S. J. Cooke. 2015. Conference report: Muskellunge science and management: Progress through partnerships. Environmental Biology of Fishes 98:2031–2035

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Workshops and Conferences

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) are an elusive yet highly prized species in eastern North America that can attain trophy sizes. As a result, a dedicated catch-and-release recreational Muskellunge fishery has developed throughout their range. Management of this fishery has largely been facilitated by partnerships between anglers, researchers, and managers. To explore and encourage interactions among these groups a 2-day workshop was held in Ottawa, Canada in August 2014. Three key themes emerged from presentations at this workshop highlighting: 1) the success of Muskellunge management in most of their natural range, 2) knowledge gaps regarding their habitat requirements at various life-stages, and 3) the utility of genetic tools to assist with their management. Through a series of facilitated discussions, concerns were raised by participants regarding the threat posed by non-specialized anglers, the response of Muskellunge populations under future novel conditions, the appropriate scale for management of populations, the potential consequences of cumulative stressors, and the challenges associated with managing cumulative effects and threats. The major take-home message from the workshop was that Muskellunge management is largely a success story that can serve as an example for other recreational fisheries, particularly in terms of building productive partnerships that engage anglers, managers and scientists. Here we present a discussion of the major themes and concerns identified through the workshop in the hopes of spurring future research on Muskellunge, and encouraging managers of other fisheries to adopt some of the strategies that have made Muskellunge fishery management successful.

workshops-and-conferences

Kendall, R. L. [ed.]. Selected coolwater fishes of North America. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 11. Washington, D. C. 437 p.

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Workshops and Conferences

Selected coolwater fishes of North America

workshops-and-conferences

Kapuscinski, K. L. T. D. Simonson, D. P. Crane, S. J. Kerr, J. S. Diana and J. M. Farrell [eds.]. Muskellunge Management: Fifty Years of Coopoeration among Anglers, Scientists and Fisheries Biologists. American Fisheries Society Symposium 85. Bethesda, Maryland. 675 p.

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Workshops and Conferences

Muskellunge Management: Fifty Years of Coopoeration among Anglers, Scientists and Fisheries Biologists

workshops-and-conferences

Hall, G. E. [ed.]. Managing muskies. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 15. Bethesda, Maryland. 372 p.

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Workshops and Conferences

Managing muskies. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 15

workshops-and-conferences

Diana, J. S. and T. L. Margenau [eds.]. 2007. The muskellunge symposium: A memorial tribute to E. J. Crossman. Springer Publishers. Dodrecht, The Netherlands. 185 p.

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Workshops and Conferences

The muskellunge symposium: A memorial tribute to E. J. Crossman

workshops-and-conferences

Taillon, D. and D. Heinbuck. 2017. Ontario’s muskellunge angler log program: 1995-2015. P. 51-73 In K. L. Kapuscinski, T. D. Simonson, D. P. Crane, S. J. Kerr, J. S. Diana and J. M. Farrell [eds.]. Muskellunge Management: Fifty Years of Cooperation among Anglers, Scientists and Fisheries Biologists. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 85. Bethesdam Maryland. 675 p.

Voluntary Angler Diaries

Muskies Canada Inc. (MCI) has represented muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) anglers since 1978, advocating for the conservation and effective management of muskellunge populations. A core initiative of MCI, since it inception, has been the voluntary angler log program (ALP) which collects data on MCI-member muskellunge angling effort and catch. These data are shared with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and forestry with the intent of contributing to the management of muskellunge fisheries in Ontario. this paper examines the data provided by MCI members for the six waterbodies with the highest representation in the ALP from 1995 to 2015 – Pigeon Lake, Rideau River, Lake St. Clair, Georgian Bay, St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River. Mean length, catch-per-unit-of-effort and proportional size are examined to determine (1) if a response to large scale changes in fish abundance (viral hemorrhagic septicemia-related die-offs) can be detected in the data, and (2) if data from the ALP related to the broad management objectives for the fishery. While the ALP is subject to some sources of bias, our assessments suggests that there is considerable potential for direct use of the data in setting and measuring fishery and muskellunge population objectives.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Kerr, S. J., D. Heinbuck, and S. Powell. 2011. Ontario’s 2010 Volunteer Muskellunge Angler Diary Program. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Muskies Canada Incorporated. Peterborough, Ontario. 10 p

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

Anglers reported expending a total of 17,999 rod hours of effort directed at muskellunge in 2010. The most heavily fished waters were the Ottawa River (2,550 hours), St. Lawrence River (2,263 hours), Lake St. Clair (2,134 hours), Lake Nipissing (1,029 hours), and Lake of the Woods (1,025 hours).A total of 946 muskellunge were landed in 2010. Based on the reported angling effort, the overall catch-per-unit-of-effort (CUE) was 0.053 fish/rod hour. All but two angled muskellunge were released alive. Biological information (i.e., length, lamprey marks, lymphosarcoma, etc.) was reported• for a total of 875 muskellunge which were angled during the 2010 fishing season. Records were submitted from a total of 65 different Ontario waterbodies. This is the largest number of waterbodies since the program began in 1979. Anglers reported several new muskellunge waters which had previously been• undocumented. These waters included Big Gull Lake, Cross Lake, Gibson Lake, Soyers Lake, and the Thames River. These waters will be added to the provincial muskellunge atlases (MNR 1987, Kerr 2001). Angled muskellunge ranged in size from 15-56 inches in total length. The mean• length of angled muskellunge in 2010 was 36.0 inches. The largest muskellunge recorded in the 2010 program was a 56.0 inch fish angled from the St. Lawrence River. Based on volunteer angler logs maintained by members of Muskies Inc. (MI) and Muskies Canada Inc. (MCI), there were 159 muskellunge exceeding 50 inches in length which were angled from 24 Ontario waters in 2010. Based on this information, the largest muskellunge reported during the 2010 angling season was a 57.0 inch fish taken from the Ottawa River.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Cooke, S. J., W. I. Dunlop, D. MacLennan and G. Power. 2000. Applications and characteristics of angler diary programs in Ontario. Fisheries Management and Ecology 7:473-487.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

Angler diary programs (n=46, 1979–1997) implemented in Ontario by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are reviewed, and the different uses of angler diary programmes, levels of participation and differences in programme design are reported. In Ontario, angler diary use is common, but successful application is limited. This review revealed a variety of uses and approaches for administering angler diary programmes. Problems arise when programmes are initiated without the complete commitment of the administrators and agency, or when there is no regular review so adaptive changes can be made. If administrators realize the potential biases and problems associated with diaries, and design programmes to control them, angler diaries can provide favourable cost-effective results. With reduced funding and staffing constraints, angler diary programmes could become the primary method of data collection for specialized and remote fisheries

voluntary-angler-diaries

Kerr, S. J., D. Heinbuck, S. Powell, G. Olson, and J. Bunch. 2012. Ontario’s 2011 Volunteer Muskellunge Angler Diary Program. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Muskies Canada Incorporated. Peterborough, Ontario.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

In 2011, information was collected from four volunteer muskellunge angler diary programs in Ontario. These included MNR-sponsored programs on Lake of the Woods and Lake St. Clair as well as Muskies Canada Inc’s (MCI) and Muskies Inc. (MI) ongoing volunteer programs. The 2011 program represented the 33rd consecutive year that MCI anglers have participated in this volunteer activity. A total of 178 MCI anglers participated in the 2011 program and reported angling activities on 62 different Ontario waterbodies. A total of 408 Muskies Inc. members provided information on 4,734 muskellunge angled from 62 different Ontario waterbodies in 2011. The majority (3,728 records, 78.7%) of these records originated from either Lake St. Clair or Lake of the Woods. In a few instances reported information was not included because the lake could not be verified. The annual Lake St. Clair program was coordinated by the Lake Erie Management Unit. Six volunteer anglers were involved in the 2011 program. – The MNR Lake of the Woods Program, conducted on a regular five year cycle, was coordinated by the Lake of the Woods Fisheries Assessment Unit. Participants in the Lake of the Woods Fisheries Assessment Unit program were guests at one of five lodges on the lake.

Volunteer anglers reported angling results from a total of 92 different Ontario waterbodies in 2011. This is the largest number of individual waters since the program began. Most of these new waters were in northwestern Ontario with information being provided by Muskies Inc. as well as the new northwestern Ontario chapter of Muskies Canada Inc. Anglers participating in the 2011 program reported 20,812.2 rod hours of angling effort. Those same anglers reported catching a total of 1,235 muskellunge. This represents an angling success rate of 0.059 fish per rod hour. Only one muskellunge was reported as harvested. All other angled fish were released. The most heavily fished water in 2011 was Lake of the Woods (Table 2) with 5,173.25 rod hours of reported effort. This may be attributed to the fact that MNR had a volunteer angler diary program on that water in 2011.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Kerr, S. J. 2004. Characteristics of Ontario muskellunge fisheries based on volunteer angler diary information. Fish and Wildlife Branch. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 19 p. + appendices.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

This report consolidates volunteer angler diary information, collected from a variety of sources over a period of more than forty years, to provide an overview of muskellunge sport fisheries in Ontario. Based on reported angling effort it is obvious that muskellunge are becoming an increasingly popular species. Muskellunge catches were found to be strongly correlated with reported angling effort. Angling success, in terms of catch-per-unit-effort, has improved over the past twenty-five years and Ontario waters now provide some of the highest quality muskellunge fisheries in North America. Muskellunge in excess of 50 inches are captured from several waters each year. It is expected that the next world record muskellunge will be angled from somewhere in Ontario. Voluntary release rates of muskellunge among muskellunge anglers have also increased over the past two decades to the point where approximately 98% of all angled muskellunge are now released after capture. Overall, Ontario’s muskellunge fisheries appear to be stable and sustainable. This can be attributed to an increase in the catch-and-release ethic as well as new minimum size limit regulations. Volunteer angler diary programs should continue to be used to monitor the status of Ontario’s muskellunge fisheries in the future.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Chase, S. K. and A. Levine. 2016. A framework for evaluating and designing citizen science programs for natural resource monitoring. Conservation Biology 30:456-466.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

We present a framework of resource characteristics critical to the design and assessment of citizen science programs that monitor natural resources. To develop the framework we reviewed 52 citizen science programs that monitored a wide range of resources and provided insights into what resource characteristics are most conducive to developing citizen science programs and how resource characteristics may constrain the use or growth of these programs. We focused on 4 types of resource characteristics: biophysical and geographical, management and monitoring, public awareness and knowledge, and social and cultural characteristics. We applied the framework to 2 programs, the Tucson (U.S.A.) Bird Count and the Maui (U.S.A.) Great Whale Count. We found that resource characteristics such as accessibility, diverse institutional involvement in resource management, and social or cultural importance of the resource affected program endurance and success. However, the relative influence of each characteristic was in turn affected by goals of the citizen science programs. Although the goals of public engagement and education sometimes complimented the goal of collecting reliable data, in many cases trade-offs must be made between these 2 goals. Program goals and priorities ultimately dictate the design of citizen science programs, but for a program to endure and successfully meet its goals, program managers must consider the diverse ways that the nature of the resource being monitored influences public participation in monitoring.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Bray, G. S. and H. L. Schramm. 2001. Evaluation of a statewide volunteer angler diary program for use as a fisheries assessment tool. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 21:606-615.

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Voluntary Angler Diaries

We implemented a statewide volunteer angler diary program for the 1995 fishing season to determine whether angler diaries can provide data that are useful for the management of the principal sport fishes in waters throughout Mississippi. Of 1,153 anglers volunteering to participate, 224 (19%) returned diaries with at least one recorded fishing trip that was usable for data analysis. We found no significant (P < 0.05) correlations between angler diary catch per unit effort (CPUE; fish/h) and creel survey or electrofishing CPUE for black bass Micropterus spp. and crappies Pomoxis spp. The length distributions of black bass reported by anglers were similar to those obtained from electrofishing samples at five of seven reservoirs when fish smaller than 250 mm were excluded from the comparisons. The length distributions of crappies obtained from diary reports were different from those obtained from electrofishing samples. Low participation by anglers for catfish (Ictaluridae) and sunfish Lepomis spp. precluded similar analyses for those species. The participating anglers differed from the general angling public in Mississippi, possibly biasing estimates of catch rate. Although angler diaries may have value for monitoring angler catch rate trends for diverse types of anglers and in numerous water bodies, our results show that angler diary data should not be used to replace traditional fishery assessment data.

voluntary-angler-diaries

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2007.Guidelines for competitive fishing events for muskellunge in Ontario. Fisheries Policy Section. Peterborough, Ontario.

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Tournaments

Competitive fishing is a growing industry in Ontario (Kerr and Kamke 2003, Kerr 2004). Bass (Micropterus spp.) are the most commonly targeted species at these events. Although competitive fishing events for muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) have been relatively uncommon to date, there apparently is increasing interest in organizing these events on some of Ontario’s trophy muskellunge waters. There are already several large muskellunge tournaments in adjacent U.S. jurisdictions. Muskellunge are subject to physiological stress associated with capture and handling (Miles et al. 1974, Beggs et al. 1980). With the unique nature of wild muskellunge stocks in Ontario, their vulnerability as a low density predator, and a strong desire to protect the fishery, there was the need to develop best management practices for tournaments specifically directed toward muskellunge. While it is believed that large prize tournaments for muskellunge should be strongly discouraged due to the unique characteristics of the species (low density populations and high susceptibility to post-release mortality), the following guidelines have been developed for tournament organizers who may still choose to hold a muskellunge tournament in Ontario. These guidelines endorse a varying or “tiered” approach for different events depending upon the magnitude of the event, characteristics of the muskellunge population in that water body, and the minimum size limits which are in place. It is proposed that a more cautious approach be taken in those events being held in low population density, less sustainable fisheries (e.g., trophy waters) and where fish are being retained for longer periods of time in order to verify size for entry into the event. Appendix 1 provides an outline of the Tiered Approach to Tournament Guidelines.Guidelines on good catch-and-release practices for one species may not be appropriate for other species (Tufts 1999, Cooke and Suski 2004). These guidelines are not intended to apply to tournaments involving other fish species although there may be some practical application of these practices to other fisheries.

There are a number of key principles which form the foundation of these guidelines:
1. Competitive fishing is recognized as a legitimate activity in Ontario with many
social and economic benefits.
2. At catch-and-release events every effort should be made to ensure fish
experience minimal stress in order to maximize post-release survival. Catchand-
kill events for muskellunge should be discouraged.
3. Competitive fishing events should not threaten sustainability of the resource.
4. Competitive fishing events must comply with the Ontario Fishery Regulations and
the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
5. Safety should be a top priority

tournaments

Kerr, S. J. [ed.]. 1999. Competitive Fishing in Ontario Workshop Proceedings, Workshop Proceedings WP-O1, Southcentral Sciences Section, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Kemptville, Ontario. 107 p.

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Tournaments

There is little doubt that the popularity of competitive fishing has increased considerably in the past decade. Although accurate records on individual events are generally not available, it is believed that there are several hundred competitive fishing events, including tournaments, derbies and contests, across Ontario each year. These events span all seasons of the year, include both inland and Great Lakes waters, and target a wide variety of fish species. Despite their increasing popularity and obvious economic benefits to local economies, there are several controversial issues with respect to competitive fishing events. These include concerns about boating safety, the impacts of handling, weigh-in and release techniques of angled fish, interference with the activities of shoreline residents, the potential of overharvesting local fish stocks, impacts on other aquatic biota (e.g., nesting water birds), and competition with other non-tournament anglers. One of the primary functions of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resource’s (MNR) science division is to collate and disseminate new science and pertinent information to both resource users and managers. One means of accomplishing this task is to organize and host interactive workshops. Three other workshops (“Bass Management in Ontario” in 1994; “Managing Muskies in the 90s” in 1995; and “Science in the Southeast” in 1997) have been held in southeastern Ontario in the past five years. A two day workshop on competitive fishing events was held at the Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology on March 12 and 13, 1999. The workshop was organized by the Southcentral Sciences Section of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The objective of the workshop was to assemble a mix of speakers to summarize recent research activities and management approaches as well as review various issues and concerns with respect to competitive fishing in Ontario. The workshop format included presentations by 16 different speakers. Time was allotted for questions and general discussion after each presentation. The workshop concluded with a general synopsis and overview summarizing highlights of individual presentations and items of general discussion. The interest in competitive fishing was evident by the fact that, despite inclement late winter weather conditions, at least eighty people attended the event. Workshop attendees included fisheries managers and researchers from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, fishing tournament organizers, tournament anglers, representatives from local sportsmans organizations and cottage associations, and unaffiliated anglers. These workshop proceedings have been assembled to document the formal presentations at the workshop and transfer this information to those who were not in attendance.

tournaments

Kerr, S. J. 2009. A survey of 2008 competitive fishing events in Ontario. Fish and Wildlife Branch. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 9 p. + appendices.

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Tournaments

A survey was conducted to gather information on competitive fishing activities in Ontario during 2008. Information on 1,039 events was recorded. At least 71 of these events have been run annually for more than a decade. The majority (~ 73%) of competitive fishing activities were concentrated on inland waters particularly in southern Ontario. Based on comparisons with previous surveys, it is evident that competitive fishing continues to expand in Ontario. Other changes include an increase in the number of fish species being caught, an increase in the number of youth and family oriented events and more events during the spring, summer and fall. It is recommended that another survey be conducted in 4-5 years in order to continue monitoring this activity.

tournaments

Kerr, S. J. 2004. A 2004 survey of competitive fishing events in Ontario. Fish and Wildlife Branch. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 14 p. + appendices.

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Tournaments

A provincial survey was conducted to obtain information on competitive fishing activities which occurred in Ontario during 2004. Information on a total of 680 events is summarized. This represents a 31% increase from the number of events documented during a 1999 survey. The majority of events (61.8%) were situated on inland waters of southern Ontario followed by the Great Lakes (20.3%). Most events lasted only one day in duration. Fish and game clubs and professional tournament series accounted for the organization of 434 competitive fishing events (63.8%). Bass were the most commonly targeted species accounting for 42.6% of all events. Other popular species included walleye (13.3%) and northern pike (8.8%). Based on the results of this survey, several issues were identified and recommendations are offered for consideration. A similar survey should be conducted again in 2009.

tournaments

Gilbert, S. J. and G. G. Sass. 2016. Trends in a northern Wisconsin muskellunge fishery: Results from a county-wide angling context, 1964-2010. Fisheries Management and Ecology 23:172-176.

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Tournaments

Trends in a northern Wisconsin muskellunge fishery: Results from a county-wide angling context, 1964-2010

tournaments

Kerr, S. J. and K. K. Kamke. 2003. Competitive fishing in freshwaters of North America: A survey of Canadian and U. S. jurisdictions. Fisheries 28:26-31.

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Tournaments

A survey of competitive fishing activities in Canadian and U. S. jurisdictions was conducted during the summer-autumn of 2000 and the winter of 2001. Responses to a survey involving 10 questions were received from all 62 state, provincial, and territorial agencies contacted. Respondents reported 19,371 events and we estimate that over 25,000 competitive fishing events were held in 2000. Several social and biological issues associated with competitive fishing activities were reported. Social issues included congestion at access points, safety concerns, and conflicts with non-tournament anglers. Biological issues included increased fishing pressure, initial and delayed mortality, impacts of fish relocation, and the potential transfer of exotic species. There has been an increase in the development of policies and regulations associated with competitive fishing since the last survey was conducted in 1989 and it appears that more are being planned for the future. Approximately one-half of all North American jurisdictions now have a requirement to obtain a permit for an organized competitive fishing event. Research is needed to address potential impacts and to develop best management practices for competitive fishing activities.

tournaments

Schramm, H. L., Jr., M. L. Armstrong, N. A. Funicelli, D. M. Green, D. P. Lee, R. E. Mann, Jr., B. D. Taubert and S. J. Waters. 1991. The status of competitive fishing in North America. Fisheries 16:4-12.

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Tournaments

Organized competitive sportfishing has been a growing use of fishery resources for at least the last 20 years. We conducted a survey of fishery agencies in Canada, the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands to estimate the numbers and types of competitive fishing events in inland and marine waters and to determine fishery agency perceptions of the benefits and problems associated with these events. Based on survey responses, there were 20,697 competitive fishing events annually. Adjusting for agencies that did not provide estimates and incomplete reporting, we estimated that there were at least 31,000 competitive fishing events annually. Most competitive fishing events were for black bass in inland waters and billfish in marine waters, but events targeted many species of fish. In inland waters, events for species other than black bass appear to be increasing. Prevalent problems of competitive fishing perceived by fishery management agencies were stimulation and concentration of fishing effort, conflicts among user groups, and impeded access. Prevalent benefits of competitive fishing were economical acquisition of catch and biological data, promotion of recreational fishing, and communication between agencies and anglers. Our survey indicated the need for accurate (rather than estimated) and current data about competitive fishing and further investigations of sociological aspects, economic values, and biological impacts of competitive fishing events.

tournaments

Wagner, C. P. and D. H. Wahl. 2007. Evaluation of temperature selection differences among juvenile muskellunge originating from different latitudes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:85-98.

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Temperature Preferences

Genetic differences among muskellunge Esox masquinongy populations are related to residence in major river drainages, suggesting the existence of divergent stocks. By use of radio-telemetry we compared different seasonal and diel temperature selection in a southern Illinois reservoir for three geographically and genetically distinct stocks of age-2 muskellunge from throughout the latitudinal range of the species. Muskellunge from the Upper Mississippi River drainage were represented by the Leech Lake, Minnesota, population and the Ohio River drainage was represented by the Cave Run Lake, Kentucky, population. Progeny from North Spring Lake, Illinois, an interstock, or mixed-origin stock, were also evaluated. No differences in temperature selection were observed among stocks of juvenile muskellunge across seasons or diel periods. The seasonal mean temperatures of the water varied significantly—spring 21.7°C, summer 28.4°C, and fall 14.8°C, with an overall average temperature of 24.1°C, in agreement with previously published values obtained in laboratory trials. This lack of different temperature-selection patterns among stocks is in contrast with other life-history characteristics, for example growth, metabolism, and conversion efficiency, which have been shown to differ among populations and stocks.

temperature-preferences

Scott, D. P. 1964. Thermal resistance of pike (Esox lucius), muskellunge (E. masquinongy) and their F1 hybrid. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 21:1043-1049.

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Temperature Preferences

Comparison of thermal resistances of pike, muskellunge, and their F1 hybrid indicates close similarity between the two species. There appears to be some hybrid vigour in that the hybrids tend to be more resistant to thermal stress at the average acclimation and test temperatures encountered in the experiments. The greatest difference between the hybrids and parents occurred at the lowest test temperatures. Differences between the parent species were apparent only in their response to acclimation temperature, the slope of the curve of resistance time on acclimation temperature being much steeper for muskellunge than that for pike.

temperature-preferences

Ferguson, R. G. 1958. The preferred temperature of fish and their midsummer distribution in temperate lakes and streams. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 15:607-624.

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Temperature Preferences

Laboratory studies of preferred temperature with yellow perch (Perca flavescens) are compared with results from 21 other species. These show that temperature, if acting alone, can determine the distribution of fish in laboratory apparatus. Factors such as light, conditioned responses related to feeding routines, and social behaviour can interfere with the expression of the response to temperature. Subdued lighting conditions were necessary in the experiments with Oncorhynchus, Salvelinus and Coregonus, whereas full daylight was required in experiments with Perca flavescens.The level of thermal acclimation influences the range of temperature preferred. In general the preferred temperature is considerably higher than the acclimation temperature at low thermal acclimations, but this difference decreases up to the final preferendum, where both coincide. The final preferendum and the relation between acclimation and preferred temperature is characteristic for the species. The shape of the resulting curve may have some value in interpreting observations of fish mortalities and distribution in nature. The final preferendum of the yellow perch from the present work was 24.2 °C., from other work using older fish it was 21.0 °C.Summer field observations of yellow perch in Lake Nipissing, Costello Lake and Opeongo Lake in Ontario, showed average thermal distribution of 19.7 °C., 21.0 °C. and 21.2 °C. respectively. This agrees well with 20.8 °C. observed for four Wisconsin lakes. Oxygen depletion reported for Tennessee Valley reservoirs, distribution of primary prey species of lake trout in New York waters, and other factors, have been shown to modify the thermal distribution in nature. Differential sex response to temperature may be important in the perch. Field observations of thermal distributions for other species are also presented.A comparison of the laboratory and field data shows good agreement with fish having colder final preferenda: Salvelinus fontinalis, Salvelinus namaycush, Salvelinus hybrid and Coregonus clupeaformis. Fish with warmer final preferenda, such as Micropterus salmoides, Micropterus dolomieu and Lota lota lacustris, showed higher temperatures in the laboratory than was shown by field observations. Young Perca flavescens showed similar results, but experiments with older perch showed excellent agreement between laboratory results and held observations. The lack of agreement between laboratory results and field observations is attributed to age differences; laboratory experiments being performed with young fish and held observations being made on older fish.

temperature-preferences

Cole, A. J. and P. W. Betoli. 2014. Thermal ecology of subadult and adult muskellunge in a thermally enriched reservoir. Fisheries Management and Ecology 21:410-420.

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Temperature Preferences

The movement of adult muskellunge, Esox masquinongy Mitchill, has been investigated in a variety of systems, but temperature selection by muskellunge has not been examined where well‐oxygenated waters were available over a range of temperatures for much of the year. Thirty subadult and adult muskellunge tagged internally with temperature‐sensing radio tags were tracked from March 2010 to March 2011 in a Tennessee reservoir. Mean tag temperatures were 18.9 °C in spring (March to May), 22.1 °C in summer (June to August), 16.5 °C in autumn and 9.8 °C in winter (December to February). When the greatest range in water temperatures was available (7.1–33.3 °C; May to early August 2010), their realised thermal niche (mean ± 1 SD ) was 22.3 °C ± 1.8; the realised thermal niche was affected by fish size (smaller fish selected slightly warmer temperatures) but not sex. An electric generating steam plant discharging warm water resumed operation in January 2011, and most (86%) tagged fish occupied the plume where temperatures were ≈10 °C warmer than ambient water temperatures. No mortalities were observed 15 days later when plant operations ceased. Their affinity for the heated plume prompted concerns that muskellunge will be too easily exploited when the plant operates during winter.

temperature-preferences

Bonin, J. D. and J. R. Spotila. 1978. Temperature tolerance of larval muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) F1 hybrids reared under hatchery conditions. Comparative Biochemical Physiology 59A:245-248.

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Temperature Preferences

Critical thermal maxima (CTM) of larval muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) and norlunge (Esox masquinongy females × E. lucuis males) were determined under hatchery conditions. Norlunge had higher temperature tolerance and developed faster. CTM of larval norlunge (30.9–36.0°C,X= 34.0°C) were significantly higher (P ≤ 0.01) than those of muskellunge (29.9–35.6°C,X= 32.8°C). Both fish exhibited a sharp decrease in CTM during swim-up, followed by a slow recovery period characterized by a general increase in CTM values. Both age and past thermal history had important effects on temperature tolerance of fry. Norlunge fry were better able to physiologically adjust to changing environmental conditions than were muskelunge.

temperature-preferences

Crossman, E. J. 1960. Variation in number and asymmetry in branchiostegal rays in the family Esocidae. Canadian Journal of Zoology 38:363-375.

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Taxonomy

In teleost fishes which have high numbers of meristic parts there is great variability. Within the family Esocidae this variability is apparent in the branchiostegal rays. Within populations there often exists up to 23 combinations of numbers of these rays on the epihyoid and ceratohyoid bones on each side of single individuals. There is considerable bilateral asymmetry in both number and arrangement of these rays. Counts of the number of branchiostegal rays on each hyoid segment may prove more useful as distinguishing characteristics than total counts now in use.

taxonomy

Pierce, R. B., J. A. Younk and C. M. Tomcko. 2007. Expulsion of miniature radio transmitters along with eggs of muskellunge and northern pike: A new methods for locating critical spawning habitat. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:99-109

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Tagging and Marking

Identification and protection of critical spawning habitat for muskellunge Esox masquinongy and northern pike Esox lucius is important for preserving the reproductive potential of both species. In this study, we implanted miniature radio transmitters through the oviduct into the egg masses of female muskellunge and northern pike just prior to spawning. This non-surgical procedure was a novel approach for identifying spawning sites when transmitters were expelled with the eggs during egg deposition. Preliminary studies in three lakes showed that muskellunge and northern pike deposited many of the transmitters in likely spawning habitat. An inability to find eggs limited our validation of this method, but nevertheless, a relatively high proportion (70%) of northern pike larger than 690 mm (27.2 inches) expelled transmitters in a previously known spawning area in Willow Lake, Minnesota. Shoreline vegetation in that area consisted primarily of sedges Carex spp., and the adjacent water was shallow with substrate consisting of large mats of water bulrush Scirpus subterminalis. A lower proportion (50%) of muskellunge expelled transmitters in Elk Lake, Minnesota. Water depth at likely spawning sites averaged 1.1 m (3.6 feet) and vegetative cover was variable, but Chara spp. was common to most sites. In Moose Lake, Minnesota, containing sympatric populations of muskellunge and northern pike, 60% of muskellunge and 90% of pike expelled transmitters. Chara spp. beds were the predominant substrate where transmitters were expelled in Moose Lake, but the two species deposited transmitters on deepwater bars (3.7–5.2 m) in addition to shallow near-shore habitat. These results suggest more flexibility in depths used for spawning than typically reported for muskellunge and northern pike.

tagging-and-marking

McNeil, F. I. and E. J. Crossman. 1979. Fin clips in the evaluation of stocking programs for muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 108:335-343.

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Tagging and Marking

During laboratory and field experiments in Ontario, with hatchery muskellunge 90–235 mm in total length, total removal of a fin did not add to the immediate mortality caused by seining the fish from ponds. The use of an anesthetic during surgery (MS-222) did not affect subsequent survival of marked, stocked fish. Removal of any single paired fin was equally detrimental to short-term (3 months) survival. In contrast, over long periods (10 months) the loss of a pectoral fin was more detrimental than loss of a pelvic fin. Removal of both fins of a pair may cause higher mortality than the removal of one fin. Neither the fin removed nor the anesthetic significantly affected short-term or long-term growth. Within 1 year of marking regeneration of amputated fins was such that recognition of marked fish was difficult and the degree of difficulty increased with time. Estimates based on marked 2-year-old or older individuals could result in substantial underestimates of survival.

tagging-and-marking

Lucy, J. and K. Davy. 2000. Benefits of angler assisted tag-and-release programs. Fisheries 25:18-23.

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Tagging and Marking

Angler-based tagging programs can have substantial benefits to fisheries research and management in the marine system. Some cooperative tagging programs of this nature have been in existence for nearly 40 years, providing a long time-series of data that would not otherwise be available to managers. Data provided through cooperative tagging programs with commercial and recreational fishers have contributed to the management of Atlantic highly migratory species, nearshore marine reef species, and nearshore marine migratory species. In addition to adding to the database used to manage fisheries, angler-based tagging programs can be a vehicle to promote resource stewardship and conservation principles such as catch and release and proper release techniques. However, to maximize their utility, tagging programs should be conducted in conjunction with fishery management or research programs, provide some training to taggers, and have established objectives.

tagging-and-marking

Muir, B. S. 1963. Vital statistics of Esox maqquinongy in Nogies Creek, Ontario: Tag loss, mortality due to tagging and the estimate of exploitation. Journal of the fisheries Research board of Canada 20:1213-1230.

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Tagging and Marking

A small population of maskinonge was exploited by a 9-year fishery, using fixed nets under control of the investigator. During the period 1952 to 1960, approximately 4000 maskinonge were handled, 2000 of them being tagged and returned to the population.The rate of loss of the preopercular disc tag increased progressively with time out, so that an estimated 8.5% of the tags had been lost after the end of the first year, 30% after the second and virtually all after the third. The total mortality and tag loss is estimated to range from 25% to 66% during the period from spring to fall for various years. These estimates are used as correcting factors to determine the numbers of tags extant at the start of the fall fishery each year. The rates of recapture of these tags give estimates of exploitation during the fall fisheries, and the average coefficient of catchability, derived from these data, is 0.0026 for fish age IV and older.A method, using simultaneous tag and recapture data, is developed to estimate the coefficient of catchability for each age-group. The estimated coefficients of catchability increase, almost linearly, from 0.0013 for age-group III to 0.0032 for age-group VI+. The average coefficient estimated by this method, 0.0025 for age-group IV and older, agrees well with that estimated independently by the method above.

tagging-and-marking

Landsman, S. J., E. G. Martins, L. F. G. Gutowsky, C. D. Suski, R. Arlinghaus and S. J. Cooke. 2015. Locomotor activity patterns of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) assessed using tri-axial acceleration sensing acoustic transmitters. Environmental Biology of Fishes 98:2109-2121.

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Tagging and Marking

The trade-off between remaining stationary and being active has consequences for the survival and growth of fishes. Recent advancements in telemetry tools have enabled researchers to assess activity patterns of free-swimming fishes using tri-axial acceleration-sensing acoustic transmitters. This study describes the summer activity patterns of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in an 8 km reach of the Rideau River, Ontario between 1 June and 20 August 2010. Acceleration measurements indicated that muskellunge tended to remain inactive for much of the time. The effect of time of day (i.e., diel patterns), water temperature, and fish size were also examined. Activity was lowest at dawn, increased throughout the day, peaked at dusk, and declined at night. Activity also declined above temperatures of 25 °C and was lower for larger muskellunge. A comparison of fish captured with rod and reel versus boat electrofisher failed to reveal a significant difference in behaviour. The results of this study illustrate the utility of accelerometer transmitters for studying the behavioural ecology of free-swimming fishes. The results also confirm that muskellunge are generally sedentary during the summer period, but do exhibit reasonably pronounced diel activity patterns.

tagging-and-marking

Kerr, S. J. and B. Jones. 2016. The Saint John River Muskellunge Tagging Project, 2006-2015. Report prepared for the Saint John River Chapter of Muskies Canada Inc. Fredericton, New Brunswick. 14 p. + appendices.

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Tagging and Marking

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 Saint John River Chapter of Muskies Canada 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 behaviour 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.

tagging-and-marking

Margenau, T. L. 1992. Survival and cost effectiveness of stocked fall fingerling and spring yearling muskellunge in Wisconsin. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 12:484-493.

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Stocking

Stocking hatchery-reared muskellunge Esox masquinongy is important to Wisconsin’s muskellunge management program. Typically, large (8–12-in) fingerlings are stocked in fall; however, these fish have poor short-term (30–60-d) survival. To assess survival and cost-effectiveness (maximizing return per dollar invested), both over winter and to age 18 months, I compared success of fish stocked as fall fingerlings (FF) and spring yearlings (SY). Overwinter survival of FF averaged 19% (N = 14; range, 2.7–43.3%). Mortality was highest from stocking through late fall, then declined over winter. In three lakes stocked with both FF and SY, SY survived better (19%) than FF (4%) to age 18 months. Cost analysis based on survival over winter revealed no consistent economic advantage in stocking larger, more expensive fingerlings within the 8–12-in range unless precise information is known about potential predators. Cost comparisons indicated SY were one to four times more cost-effective than FF to age 18 months. Stocking SY should provide a better return to the fishery per hatchery dollar than stocking FF.

stocking

Larscheid, J., J. Christianson, T. Gengerke and W. Jorgensen. 2011. Survival, growth and abundance of pellet-reared and minnow-reared muskellunge stocked in northwestern Iowa. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 19:230-237

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Stocking

Recent advances in artificial feeding techniques have increased the numbers and reliability of fingerling production of muskellunge Esox masquinongy in Iowa. Most of the muskellunge fingerlings produced in Iowa since 1984 were raised on dry pelleted feed. We compared the survival of pellet-reared fingerlings with traditional minnow-reared fingerlings stocked into Spirit and West Okoboji lakes in northwest Iowa. Beginning in 1991, all muskellunge fingerlings were marked with freeze brands to differentiate the type and year that fingerlings were stocked. Adult muskellunge were caught each spring with 360-ft, 2.5-in-bar-mesh gill nets. All muskellunge caught were examined for brands, individually marked with visual implant tags, and released into the same lake as captured. Abundance and survival of stocked fingerlings to year-classes were estimated from recaptures of branded and individually marked muskellunge. In most years none of the pellet-reared fingerlings survived. The poor survival of these fish was most likely due to a combination of poor health, poor color (camouflage barring was muted and virtually nonexistent), and small size (6–9 in total length, TL). Minnow-reared muskellunge fingerlings were much larger (10–13 in TL), displayed strong camouflage barring and no apparent nutritional problems, and survived much better than pellet-reared fish. Minnow-fed fingerlings stocked in the spring survived much better than those stocked in the fall. One spring stocking of only 572 fish more than doubled the muskellunge population in West Okoboji Lake. Such success with stocking muskellunge in the spring could drastically change stocking strategies in Iowa; fewer fish may need to be stocked, and management objectives could be met without annual stockings.

stocking

Kerr, S. J. 2017. The Lake Simcoe muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) restoration program, 2005-2016: A review. Report prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Aurora, Ontario. 40 p. + appendices.

Stocking

This report has been prepared to assemble and summarize information in order to evaluate the Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Program (LSMRP)..The program was initiated in 2005 after a feasibility study and a habitat assessment were documented and concluded the restoration of muskellunge was feasible. Design of the restoration program included identification of long term goals, selection of appropriate genetic strains for re-stocking, identification of muskellunge culture sites and the development of egg collection and netting protocols as well as assessment techniques.

Rehabilitative stocking efforts were intiated in 2005. Between 2005 and 2016, a total of 16, 359 juvenile (predominantly fall fingerlings) muskellunge were stocked at nine selected sites in Lake Simcoe. Netting for egg collections in Gloucester Pool enabled the identification of muskellunge spawning sites, documentation of spawning dates and water temperatures, and collection of information regarding muskellunge growth rates, maturation and movements. From a habitat perspective, the LSMRP also involve planting of soft stem bulrush (Scirpus validus) and wild rice (Zizania sp.) to enhance muskellunge spawning habitats at selected sites as well as rehabilitation measures which involved 15,904 m2 of shoreline.

To date, the LSMRP has been heavily dependent on partnerships, in terms of both volunteer participation and financing. A number of problems and issues were identified during the course of the program to date. A variety of assessment techniques have recently been implemented to evaluate the success of the program. Only limited success has been documented to date given the long term nature of species restoration programs, however ongoing monitoring efforts in the future should enable a better evaluation of program success.

stocking

Kerr, S. J. 2006. Muskellunge. p. 108-114 In An historical review of fish culture, stocking and fish transfers in Ontario, 1865-2004. Fish and Wildlife Branch. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 154 p. + appendices.

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Stocking

Fish culture, stocking and fish transfers have a long history in Ontario dating back before Confederation. Over the years, programs have involved the federal and provincial governments, private facilities, and public interest groups. This report provides a history of fish culture activities and summarizes records of fish stocking and transfers in the province of Ontario. Information has been derived from a number of sources including annual reports of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, Ontario Department of Game and Fisheries, Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as well as provincial databases FISHNET and FSIS. Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program (CFWIP) stocking information is based on reports from individual proponents. An extensive search was conducted at the MNR library in Peterborough for historic fish culture and stocking information. Finally, MNR staff, too numerous to mention, provided valuable information on local stocking activities. Several limitations in the stocking data should be noted. Numbers of fish stocked, from two or more different sources of information, were not always consistent. When stocking values from different sources conflicted, the larger number was accepted. In a number of instances, records could not be found or were incomplete. Stocking records reported by CWFIP proponents, particularly from projects involving fry, may be inaccurate as the result of poor inventory procedures. Stocking and fish transfers have played an important role in fisheries management in the province of Ontario. Hopefully this document will provide a useful reference, from an Ontario perspective, of activities and experiences from the past 140 years.

stocking

Diana, M. J., C. P. Wagner and D. H. Wahl. 2017. Differences in stocking success among geographically distrinct stocks of juvenile muskellunge in Illinois lakes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 37:633-643.

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Stocking

Muskellunge Esox masquinongy are broadly distributed across the northern United States and southern Canada. Intraspecific genetic variation suggests the existence of divergent stocks related to residence in major river drainages. Populations and stocks have likely adapted to specific environmental conditions associated with geographic location, especially latitude and the associated thermal regime. In this study, we examined differences in survival and growth among stocks of juvenile Muskellunge stocked into lakes throughout Illinois. Muskellunge from the Ohio River drainage stock, the upper Mississippi River drainage stock, and the current mixed Illinois broodstock were used for comparisons. Stocking mortality was related to temperature and was greatest for Illinois and Ohio River drainage fish that were stocked during the early fall. Mississippi River drainage fish experienced high mortality over the first summer after stocking, resulting in the lowest abundance during the second fall poststocking. In addition to low catch rates, Muskellunge from the Mississippi River drainage were significantly smaller than fish from the Illinois and Ohio River drainage stocks by the second fall. Populations from similar latitudes and climate (Illinois and Ohio) performed the best in terms of survival and growth and should be utilized in future stockings.

stocking

Kerr, S. J. and T. A. Lasenby. 2001. Esocid stocking: An annotated bibliography and literature review. Fish and Wildlife Branch, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 138 p. + appendices.

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Stocking

This bibliography and literature review is the seventh in a set of reference documents developed in conjunction with a review of fish stocking policies and guidelines in the Province of Ontario. It has been prepared to summarize information pertaining to the current state of knowledge regarding esocids (northern pike and muskellunge) in a form which can readily be utilized by field staff and stocking proponents. Information from over 370 sources has been assembled. Abstracts from published papers have been included wherever possible. In cases where abstracts were not available, an attempt has been made to extract pertinent material from the document to provide a synopsis of the findings. In some cases, we were unable to obtain a copy of the document but have simply included the citation. Some unpublished data has been included but has not been cited.

stocking

LeBeau, B. 1991. Oocyte recruitment and spawning chronology in pike (Esox lucius) and muskellunge (E. masquinongy). Canadian Journal of Zoology 69:2194-2301.

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Spawning and Reproduction

During the reproductive cycle, the progression of oogenesis differs markedly between northern pike, Esox lucius Linnaeus, and muskellunge, Esox masquinongy Mitchill. Both species have group-synchronous ovaries but have different oocyte recruitment strategies. Pike is a single spawner, developing eggs in a single clutch annually, whereas muskellunge is a fractional spawner, producing two clutches of eggs per year. During the spawning period in large female muskellunge, oocyte counts indicate that the second clutch of eggs is equally important to the first. An event portrait of the spawning period for muskellunge is provided, whereby amval of adults to a spawning site, egg yield, and hatching success agree with the fractional spawner concept. A hypothesis of the temporal sequence of evolutionary relationships in recruitment of oocytes for esocoid fishes is presented. The reproductive strategy of muskellunge belongs to a common esocoid ancestor, whereas that in pike is derived and unique. The significance of this divergence in closely related species remains consistent with the ecological theory that evolution of reproductive strategies is adaptive to diverse environmental conditions.

spawning-and-reproduction

Jennings, M. J., G. R. Hatzenbeler and J. M. Kampa. 2011. Spring capture site fidelity of adult muskellunge in inland lakes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 31:461-467.

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Spawning and Reproduction

Behaviors that affect the distribution of fish within aquatic systems are important considerations in the design of sampling programs. Although movements consistent with reproductive homing have been documented for muskellunge Esox masquinongy in relatively large, complex systems, quantitative data describing their distribution at the restricted spatial scale relevant to small lake fisheries are lacking. We sampled muskellunge by means of fyke netting over 2 years in each of four Wisconsin lakes with surface areas between 110 and 588 ha. Individual capture locations were recorded. Each muskellunge sampled during the first year was injected with a passive integrated transponder to allow identification of the individuals recaptured during the second year. The number of recaptures with functional transponders during the second year ranged from 15 to 43 per lake. Capture site fidelity, defined as the percentage of recaptured fish being found in the same spawning area in two consecutive years, varied from 55% to 93%. The results are relevant to population estimation and broodstock collection for artificial propagation. Population estimates need to include all spawning habitats because marked and unmarked fish are not well mixed throughout the lake during the spawning season. Because repeated netting effort at the same locations among years is likely to resample individuals used for broodstock collection, netting effort should be dispersed among spawning sites.

spawning-and-reproduction

Farrell, J. M. 2001. Reproductive success of sympatric northern pike and muskellunge in an upper St. Lawrenced River nursery bay. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 130:796-806.

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Spawning and Reproduction

A change in the use of spawning habitats linked with water-level management may explain differences in reproductive success among sympatric St. Lawrence River northern pike Esox lucius and muskellunge Esox masquinongy. Reproductive success in a shared spawning and nursery bay was compared based on egg (embryo) and age-0 abundance estimates before the fall emigration of young. Historically, northern pike were noted to commence spawning runs in shallow flooded areas soon after ice-out. I found that more than 87% of the estimated northern pike egg deposition in 1994 occurred in offshore, deep-water habitats (2–5 m) and that 99% did in 1995. Northern pike began spawning 17 d before muskellunge in 1994 and 31 d earlier in 1995. Spawning peaks occurred during the interval of 16–23 May. Muskellunge mostly spawned near shore (<1.5-m depth) in submerged aquatic vegetation growth that was absent during northern pike spawning. Muskellunge spawning began and peaked between 23 May and 4 June in 1994 and between 23 May and 1 June in 1995. Estimated egg deposition by northern pike was over 40 times that of muskellunge for the 2 years combined. Despite greater egg deposition, minimum survival estimates of northern pike from egg to fall juvenile were very low: 0.00008% in 1994 and 0.00010% in 1995. By comparison, minimum muskellunge survival estimates (egg to fall juvenile) were greater: 0.034% in 1994 and 0.105% in 1995. In seine surveys age-0 muskellunge catch per unit effort was negatively correlated with that of northern pike (r = −0.77), and muskellunge dominated catches for 9 of 10 years sampled. Growth of inshore submergent habitat during muskellunge spawning and the low abundance of northern pike may have contributed to the greater reproductive success of muskellunge.

spawning-and-reproduction

Crossman, E. J. 1990. Reproductive homing in muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 47:1803-1812.

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Spawning and Reproduction

The number and nature of muskellunge moving to and from spawning grounds are extensively documented. Individual spawning muskellunge in Stony Lake, Ontario are considered to home annually to specific spawning grounds and to specific areas (spawning sites) within spawning grounds. Some individuals were caught in the same location, or a nearby location, in as many as 7 yr. There is some evidence for discrete populations with apparent reproductive isolation and no interchange in summer. Dispersal from spawning grounds to summer home ranges seems to be limited in regard to direction and area sf the lake. Recapture of fish on spawning grounds suggests an obligatory return to a limited number of “traditional” spawning grounds and may extend our knowledge of the groups of fishes exhibiting this type of directed movement. The results also have serious implications for muskellunge in regard to management, shoreline development, and genetic contamination by fish culture activities.

spawning-and-reproduction

Diana, J. S., P. Hanchin and H. Popoff. 2015. Movement patterns and spawning sites of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in the Antrum chain of lakes, Michigan. Environmental Biology of Fishes 98:833-844.

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Spawning and Reproduction

The purpose of this study was to identify spawning habitat, determine home ranges, and examine movement patterns for a naturally reproducing population of Great Lakes muskellunge in the lower Antrim County chain of lakes, Michigan. Muskellunge spawning sites were identified by tracking of implanted muskellunge using a directional hydrophone and by nighttime spotlight surveys. All spawning fish tagged in Torch or Clam Lake spawned in Clam Lake, while most spawning fish tagged in Elk or Skegemog Lake spawned in the Torch River; one appeared to spawn in Lake Skegemog. Of the 32 potential spawning sites, 28 (87.5 %) contained submerged aquatic vegetation as the dominant habitat type, while the remaining 4 sites were divided equally between woody debris (6.25 %) and bare substrate. All but one implanted muskellunge returned from spawning sites to the same lake in which they were captured and implanted. Of the 24 tagged muskellunge, four were harvested via angling or spearing within 1 year after tagging, and two additional fish were assumed harvested when contact was lost. Implanted muskellunge tended to remain in the lakes during the winter, then move into spawning areas in spring, eventually returning to open lake sites where they resided over summer. Muskellunge movement behavior diverged after spawning each year, with 11 tagged fish (61.1 %) remaining in Skegemog or Clam Lake for the summer, and seven individuals traveling to Elk or Torch Lake. Muskellunge home ranges averaged 612 ha and ranged from 17 to 5,287 ha.

spawning-and-reproduction

Dombeck, M.P., B.W. Menzel and P.N. Hinz. 1984. Muskellunge spawning habitat and reproductive success. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 113(2): 205–216.

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Spawning and Reproduction

Reproduction of muskellunge Esox masquinongy has failed in many waters that formerly supported self-sustaining populations. Laboratory experiments were conducted to isolate causes of such failures. Differential mortality occurred among lots of muskellunge eggs incubated in jars of unaceated lake water over substrates of sand, gravel, silt, aquatic macrophytes, wood, tree leaves, polyethylene screen, and bare glass. High and rapid early mortality (days 1–2), attributable to low dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations (0–0.1 mg/liter), occurred among eggs incubated on leaves and macrophytes. After day 3, Saprolegnia sp. fungus was implicated in high egg mortalities in jars with inorganic substrates and moderate DO concentrations (3.8–4.1 mg/liter). Lowest mortality rates occurred on organic substrates (silt and wood) amidst intermediate DO concentrations (0.4–1.7 mg/liter) and limited fungal infestation. Among eight midwestern lakes and reservoirs, measured DO at the substrate-water interface in four of them was high (means, 6.0–8.4 mg/liter) and showed little microstratification; these lakes contain self-sustaining muskellunge populations. The other four lakes showed extreme DO microstratification and virtual anoxia (means, 0.4–2.4 mg/liter) at the substrate-water interface; muskellunge populations in these lakes are supported almost wholly by stocking. Suitable spawning substrates in these lakes are aerated by annual reservoir drawdown, have inherently low biological oxygen demand, or support dense beds of stonewort Chara sp. Reproductive failure is associated with spawning areas having deep accumulations of organic matter and dense macrophyte growth. Improvements of spawning habitat to prevent or alleviate hypoxia are among the options available to manage this species.

spawning-and-reproduction

Jobling, M. 1981. Temperature and final preferendum: Rapid methods for the assessment of optimum growth temperatures. Journal of Fish Biology 19:439-455.

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Sampling Techniques and Protocols

The relationship between the temperature requirements of some fish species, using published data for growth optima, final preferences and lethal limits were examined. A good correlation was found and it is suggested that the data established gives a good estimate of the temperature promoting maximum growth. Determinations of final preferenda are easily conducted in the laboratory and could therefore be used to give rapid assessments of optimum growth temperatures of potential culture species. The practical application of such measurements is discussed.

sampling-techniques-and-protocols

Hansel, H. C., S. D. Duke, P. T. Lofy and G. A. Gray. 1988. Use of diagnostic bones to identify and estimate original lengths of ingested prey fishes. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 117:1405-1420.

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Sampling Techniques and Protocols

We examined and measured cleithra, dentaries, opercles, and pharyngeal arches – bones found to persist during digestion of most prey fish – to identify 24 prey fish species and back‐calculate their original fork length. Eighteen of the 24 species examined could be easily distinguished; however, for certain congenerics, identification was neither consistent nor reliable for all bones within the size ranges examined. Relations between bone length and fish length were linear for 14 species for which the sample sizes were adequate (N > 30); coefficients of determination (r 2) ranged from 0.79 to 0.99. Diagnostic characteristics and measurements of these bones provided reliable identification of genera and species and estimates of original fork lengths of partly digested prey fish from three predators. This method, compared with that of examining only prey fish in a measurable condition, greatly increased the amount of dietary information available from gut analysis.

sampling-techniques-and-protocols

Gammon, J. R. 1965. Device for collecting eggs of muskellunge, northern pike and other scatter-spawning species. The Progressive Fish Culturist 27:78.

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Sampling Techniques and Protocols

Device for collecting eggs of muskellunge, northern pike and other scatter-spawning species

sampling-techniques-and-protocols

Crossman, E. J. and J. G. Hamilton. 1978. An apparatus for sampling gut contents of large, living fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 3:297-300.

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Sampling Techniques and Protocols

Apparatus and methods are described and illustrated for flushing and retaining gut contents from large, living fishes with water supplied by a 12 volt portable pump.

sampling-techniques-and-protocols

Dembkowski, D. J., J. A. Kerns, E. G. Easterly and D. A. Isermann. 2020. Electrofishing encounter probability, survival and dispersal of stocked age-0 muskellunge in Wisconsin lakes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 40:383-393.

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Sampling Techniques and Protocols

Boat electrofishing is often used to sample age‐0 Muskellunge Esox masquinongy for indexing recruitment or evaluating stocking success. However, electrofishing samples typically result in low CPUE , prompting concerns regarding whether catch rates reflect actual abundance or whether boat electrofishing is generally ineffective for capturing age‐0 Muskellunge (i.e., if fish are not being encountered by the gear). To address these concerns, we used radiotelemetry to evaluate the probability of encountering stocked age‐0 Muskellunge (230–350 mm TL ) during standardized fall electrofishing surveys in three Wisconsin lakes. Our approach also allowed us to evaluate short‐term survival and dispersal from stocking locations. Despite limited dispersal (<2.5 km) from the stocking locations and relatively high short‐term survival (75–94%) of radio‐tagged fish, few age‐0 Muskellunge were located within the path of the electrofishing boat (7–30%). Furthermore, the probability of encounter by boat electrofishing varied by as much as 6.3 times among lakes. Differences in encounter probability among lakes appeared to be related to lake basin and habitat characteristics. Overlays of electrofishing sampling effort and fish locations revealed that traditional shoreline electrofishing may not be an effective way of estimating age‐0 Muskellunge CPUE . Modifications to electrofishing protocols, including increased effort in offshore areas and consideration of basin characteristics and habitat, may be needed to increase encounter probabilities and the utility of boat electrofishing for sampling age‐0 Muskellunge

sampling-techniques-and-protocols

Blackwell, B. G., T. M. Kaufman, S. Moos and D. O. Luchessi. 2015. Comparison of two trap net sizes for sampling muskellunge. Prairie Naturalist 47:211-25.

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Sampling Techniques and Protocols

Sampling adequate numbers of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) is necessary to evaluate stocking success and to collect information on various population metrics (e.g., growth, condition, relative abundance). However, muskellunge are often difficult to sample with standard fish sampling gears. We collected muskellunge in trap nets of two different designs (large trap nets [1.5-m × 1.8-m frames, 1.5-m diameter hoops, double throated, single 1.5-m × 30.5-m lead and 19-mm knotless mesh] and small trap nets [0.9-m × 1.5-m frames, 0.9-m diameter hoops, single throat, single 0.9-m × 15.2-m lead and 19-mm knotted mesh]. We also estimated abundance of muskellunge (>600 mm total length) in three eastern South Dakota waters using marked and recaptured fish collected from the trap net comparisons. Sampling with both large and small trap nets was completed during the spring of 2013 and 2014 soon after ice-out. More muskellunge were collected in large than small trap nets at all three lakes. Mean total lengths of muskellunge did not differ significantly between large and small trap nets; however, length-frequency distributions did differ between net designs. Regardless of trap net design, a small number of muskellunge were collected, likely due to low abundance (population range = 0.10 fish/ha to 0.47 fish/ha) in these populations. Thus, long-term monitoring is necessary to accurately assess populations and associated trends. Sampling with large trap nets during the spring combined with population estimates may improve the ability to monitor and manage muskellunge when compared to sampling with small trap nets.

sampling-techniques-and-protocols

Margenau, T. L. and J. B. Petchenink. 2004. Social aspects of muskellunge management in Wisconsin. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 24:82-93.

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Research and Management

Public opinion plays an important part in the successful development of a fisheries management plan. We used a mail questionnaire to survey 1,400 anglers who fish for muskellunge Esox masquinongy in Wisconsin. The survey included defined groups of muskellunge anglers separated by muskellunge club affiliation and geographic location and general anglers selected from a random sample of angler license sales. The survey questions were designed to obtain opinions regarding muskellunge fishery and trophy management in Wisconsin in terms of angling behaviors, regulation options, and perceived problems. All anglers generally preferred fishing with artificial lures and practiced the voluntary live release of legal‐length muskellunge. Muskellunge anglers considered a trophy muskellunge to be at least 40 in long, with a preferred length of 50 in or longer. Muskellunge anglers also supported regulations for muskellunge that were based on a water’s biological potential, along with increased restrictions on regulations such as minimum length limits. General anglers were less supportive of restrictive regulations and were more likely to keep a legal muskellunge for consumptive purposes. The greatest perceived problems with muskellunge fishing were Native American spearing and conflicts with users of speedboats and jet skis. Opinion surveys such as this can help in formulating management strategies that satisfy most anglers within biological limits.

research-and-management

Kerr, S.J. and C.H. Olver [eds.]. 1996. Managing muskies in the ’90s. Workshop Proceedings. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southern Region Science & Technology Transfer Unit Workshop Proceedings WP-007. 169 pp.

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Research and Management

A two-day workshop, entitled “Managing Muskies in the ’90s” was held at the Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology onAugust 16-17, 1995. The workshop was organized by the Science & Technology Transfer Unit, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and sponsored by local chapters of Muskies Canada Inc. This workshop was organized to assemble a mix of researchers, managers, anglers and selected outdoor writers to transfer results of current and ongoing muskellunge research and discuss issues regarding management of the species. The format included formal presentations by 17 individual speakers from Quebec, New York, Wisconsin and across Ontario. Presentations were grouped according to the general topics of management strategies, movements and habitat utilization and status reports on different fisheries. The second component of the agenda involved breaking into informal discussion groups to discuss two current management issues: (i) Muskellunge Stocking: Is it a viable option? and (ii) Size limits: Do they work? The interest in muskellunge was evident by the fact that at least 75 people attended the workshop. These proceedings have been prepared to disseminate information presented to those who were unable to attend. It is hoped that this document will provide useful information for future management of this “noble” fish.

research-and-management

Midwood, J. D., S. J. Kerr, P. Levick and S. J. Cooke. [eds.]. 2015. Conference report: Muskellunge science and management: Progress through partnerships. Environmental Biology of Fishes DOI 10.1007/s10641-015-0417-1

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Research and Management

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) are an elusive yet highly prized species in eastern North America that can attain trophy sizes. As a result, a dedicated catch-and-release recreational Muskellunge fishery has developed throughout their range. Management of this fishery has largely been facilitated by partnerships between anglers, researchers, and managers. To explore and encourage interactions among these groups a 2-day workshop was held in Ottawa, Canada in August 2014. Three key themes emerged from presentations at this workshop highlighting: 1) the success of Muskellunge management in most of their natural range, 2) knowledge gaps regarding their habitat requirements at various life-stages, and 3) the utility of genetic tools to assist with their management. Through a series of facilitated discussions, concerns were raised by participants regarding the threat posed by non-specialized anglers, the response of Muskellunge populations under future novel conditions, the appropriate scale for management of populations, the potential consequences of cumulative stressors, and the challenges associated with managing cumulative effects and threats. The major take-home message from the workshop was that Muskellunge management is largely a success story that can serve as an example for other recreational fisheries, particularly in terms of building productive partnerships that engage anglers, managers and scientists. Here we present a discussion of the major themes and concerns identified through the workshop in the hopes of spurring future research on Muskellunge, and encouraging managers of other fisheries to adopt some of the strategies that have made Muskellunge fishery management successful.

research-and-management

Kerr, S. J. 2010. Fish and fisheries management in Ontario: A chronology of events. Fisheries Policy Section. Biodiversity Branch. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 80 p. + appendices.

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Research and Management

Ontario has a long history of fisheries management dating back well over a century. This report has been prepared in an attempt to identify events of significance to fisheries managers and detail how fisheries management has evolved over the past 200 years. It is a mixture of history, anecdotes, and factual information. Information has been drawn from a variety of published sources. In addition, many MNR staff have contributed information for the preparation of this chronology. It is hoped that this document will serve as a useful reference for new MNR staff as well as members of the public having an interest in Ontario’s fisheries.

research-and-management

Farrell, J. M., R. M. Klindt, J. M. Casselman, S. R. LaPan, R. G. Werner and A. Sciavone. 2007. Development, implementation and evaluation of an international muskellunge management strategy for the upper St. Lawrence River. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:111-123.

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Research and Management

The muskellunge, Esox masquinongy, fishery in the St Lawrence River is believed to have declined significantly from historical levels and reached critically low levels during the 1970s. Over-exploitation caused by liberal angling regulations, and loss and alteration of critical spawning and nursery habitat probably contributed to this decline. In 1980, a St Lawrence River Muskellunge Management Work Group comprising resource managers and several advisors, including E.J. Crossman, to whom this symposium is dedicated, was created to address research and management needs. A trophy muskellunge management strategy was implemented including more restrictive harvest regulations, public education promoting “catch and release”, and protection of spawning and nursery habitats. Age and growth information obtained from cleithra analysis indicated the need for increased size limits to adequately protect spawning stocks. Research efforts have developed a biological information base and monitoring tools to guide management decisions and evaluate responses. Over 100 spawning and nursery locations have been identified in US and Canadian waters leading to improved protection of critical habitats. An angler diary program shows a decline in the number of fish being harvested and a local muskellunge release award program implemented in 1987 has logged over 1000 releases of fish at least 44″ in length. Adult muskellunge monitoring in eleven spawning areas revealed an increase in mean total length of over 63 mm (>2.5 inches) after the regulation changes. Monitoring of age-0 muskellunge by use of seining surveys (1997–2005) indicates consistent reproductive success with the potential for several strong year-classes. Improvements in the muskellunge population and fishery are attributed to the progressive management action and a united community response.

research-and-management

Crane, D. P., L. M. Miller, J. S. Diana, J. M. Casselman, J. M. Farrell, K. L. Kapuscinski and J. K. Nohner. 2015. Muskellunge and northern pike ecology and management: Important issues and research needs. Fisheries 40:258-267.

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Research and Management

New research techniques and changing Muskellunge Esox masquinongy and Northern Pike E. lucius fisheries have contributed to paradigm shifts in the science and management of these species. A symposium on Muskellunge and Northern Pike biology, ecology and management was held at the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, and a panel discussion following the symposium identified several research and management priorities, including spawning habitat identification, habitat and population restoration, genetics, and selective mortality and exploitation. Future Muskellunge and Northern Pike research should focus on quantifying egg and age‐0 survival based on habitat characteristics, rigorously evaluating habitat restoration efforts using statistically sound study designs, describing range‐wide genetic structure of populations, and developing a better understanding of how selective mortality and exploitation can alter population size structure, sex ratios, and life history characteristics. Information and outcomes from the proposed research and management priorities will be critical for conserving and restoring self‐sustaining populations of Muskellunge and Northern Pike.

research-and-management

Van Poorten, B. T., S. P. Cox and A. B. Cooper. 2013. Efficacy of harvest and minimum size limit regulations for controlling short term harvest in recreational fisheries. Fisheries Management and Ecology 20:258-267.

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Regulations and Enforcement

It is important to consider the potential effectiveness of regulations for reducing total harvest levels when developing fishery management plans. A random forest (RF) modelling approach was used to examine how changing per‐angler harvest or minimum size limit regulations affected sport fishery harvest in US Atlantic coast recreational fisheries. Harvest limits per angler (i.e. bag limits) were typically high initially and subsequently reduced, whereas almost half of minimum length limits were initially below the length‐at‐maturity and subsequently increased. Across most fisheries examined, extreme reductions in harvest limits (e.g. from unlimited to catch‐and‐release) were largely ineffective at limiting total fishery harvest. Increasingly restrictive minimum length limits caused a greater average harvest reduction than per‐angler harvest limits. Some regulation changes were associated with higher angling effort and thus increased harvest, which suggests that when effort cannot be constrained, more direct harvest limitations should be considered.

regulations-and-enforcement

Margenau, T. L. and S. P. AveLallemant. 2000. Effects of a 40 inch minimum length limit on muskellunge in Wisconsin. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 20:986-993.

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Regulations and Enforcement

Management agencies commonly use high minimum length limits for muskellunge Esox masquinongy to achieve the goal of trophy fisheries. Evaluations of length-limit effects on muskellunge populations have been limited. We evaluated the effects of a 40-in minimum length limit (total length) on seven northern Wisconsin lakes and compared the results to eight lakes that remained at the statewide minimum length limit of 32 or 34 in. Five years after its implementation, the 40-in minimum length limit did not increase adult muskellunge abundance or size structure compared with reference lakes. Variation among lakes dictates that low-density species such as muskellunge be monitored for extended periods and that reference waters also be monitored to aid interpretation of data and development of meaningful management recommendations.

regulations-and-enforcement

Radomski, P. J., G. C. Grant, P. C. Jacobson and M. F. Cook. Visions for recreational fishing regulations. Fisheries 26:7-18

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Regulations and Enforcement

We review sportfishing regulations in Minnesota and across North America and discuss potential visions for the future of sportfishing regulations. Creel limits are ubiquitous across North America and they have been generally set arbitrarily with little biological justification. Anglers may not accept reductions in creel limits that actually decrease total harvest. Length-based regulations are now common and most North American sport fish management agencies had numerous water-specific length-based regulations. The future of fishing regulations could continue to get more complex but there are substantial shortcomings to this future. We present four visions of the future of freshwater recreational fishing, and we pose the question “Does the fact we are managing a pleasure sport mean that we need to rethink our fisheries management philosophy?” Future management of sport fish may rely less on biology and more on social science as we learn to optimize angler satisfaction. Although biology should be the basis for future management, other aspects of the fishing experience besides the number and size of fish caught could be managed. We will need to manage “how people fish” and understand “why people fish” to improve the angling experience. Since many of us chose this profession for nobler reasons than pleasure or sport management, we have difficulties addressing the social issues of fishing quality.

regulations-and-enforcement

Cornelius, R. R. and T. L. Margenau. 1999. Effects of length limits on muskellunge in Bone Lake, Wisconsin. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 19:300-308.

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Regulations and Enforcement

Minimum length limits are a commonly used management tool for protecting fisheries from exploitation and for improving population size structure. However, little is known about the effects of minimum length limits on populations of muskellunge Esox masquinongy. We monitored changes in the muskellunge population in Bone Lake, a 1,781-acre lake in northwest Wisconsin over a 31-year period (1964–1995) during which time length limits were changed from 30 in to 34 in and from 34 in to 40 in. These changes were compared with population changes in nearby Deer Lake (807 acres), where the length limit remained at the statewide minimum of 32 in. Mean length of adult muskellunge in Bone Lake increased from 31.3 in in 1964 to 36.0 in in 1995. Adult (≥30-in) muskellunge abundance in Bone Lake increased more than five-fold during the study and reached a density of 0.99 fish/acre. Abundance of larger (≥38-in) muskellunge increased 269% following minimum length limit increases between 1982 and 1995. Relative weight (Wr) of Bone Lake muskellunge decreased during the study, suggesting intraspecific competition for food resources. The muskellunge population in Deer Lake also had positive increases in size structure, but the increases were not as great as those in Bone Lake, and population abundance did not change. Results from this study suggest that high minimum length limits can increase abundance and mean length of a muskellunge population, but biologists need to consider long-term effects on the fish community if high densities are achieved.

regulations-and-enforcement

Casselman, J. M. 2007. Determining minimum ultimate size, setting size limits and developing trophy standards and indices of comparable size for maintaining quality muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) populations and sport fisheries. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:137-154.

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Regulations and Enforcement

Growth and ultimate size can provide important population insights and a sound biological basis for setting length limits, which can be the best single regulation for preventing overexploitation of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) populations. A system was developed, using cleithral age and total length at age confidence limits (CL) data, to determine reproductive and growth potential (ultimate size) for calculating and setting increased size limits based on minimum reproductive size (upper 99% CL at age at first maturity + 2 year) and minimum ultimate size (MUS) calculated from the lower 99% CL—minimum ultimate size limit (MUSL). MUS also provides a trophy standard and an index of relative size for comparing trophy potential of individuals within and among populations. Guidelines are provided for determining minimum sample size (mean ± 95% confidence interval = 12 ± 4) and minimum age (8–10 ± 2.0 year) required to produce valid von Bertalanffy growth trajectories. MUS, MUSL, and trophy standards for both length and estimated weight are provided for female and male muskellunge from 14 Ontario sources. Mean MUS, or trophy standard, for females was 115 ± 10.3 cm (MUSL range 75–135) and 11.1 ± 2.6 kg (2.5–17.5) and for males was 95 ± 7.5 cm (66–110) and 6.1 ± 1.3 kg (1.9–9.2). These indices can precisely define growth and growth potential for muskellunge populations and individuals and can be used to better manage and maintain or improve the quality of muskellunge populations and fisheries.

regulations-and-enforcement

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2003 (updated in 2005). Regulatory guidelines for managing the muskellunge sport fishery in Ontario.; Fisheries Policy Section. Fish and Wildlife Branch. Peterborough, Ontario. 9 p.

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Regulations and Enforcement

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) are native only to North America and are distributed across the northeastern portion of the continent. In Ontario, there are at least 302 lakes and 105 streams and rivers, which support populations of muskellunge (OMNR 1987, Kerr 2001). Their distribution occurs in the southcentral and northwestern parts of the province. All of Ontario’s muskellunge fisheries are based on naturally reproducing stocks. The only muskellunge stocking program currently underway involves small plantings of fish in the Spanish River area of the North Channel, Lake Huron, which are intended to restore a degraded population. There is also interest in the rehabilitation of Lake Simcoe’s muskellunge population. Muskellunge are a highly valued fish species. Ontario provides a wide diversity of angling opportunities ranging from those who merely wish to catch a fish to other anglers who may desire the opportunity to catch a trophy or even a world record. A unique aspect of muskellunge fisheries is that most anglers practice a catch-and-release ethic with very little post-release mortality. It is estimated that less than 10% of the muskellunge angled from Ontario waters are actually harvested. This fact must be considered when regulatory options are being reviewed. In Ontario, muskellunge have traditionally been managed on a regulatory basis by the use of closed seasons, catch and possession limits, size limit regulations and fish sanctuaries (see review by Kerr 1998). There have been two provincial reviews (1985 and 1999) of muskellunge regulations in the past. Over the past decade there has been a tendency for regulations to become increasingly complex and poorly rationalized. These guidelines have been prepared to 3 identify the most effective regulatory options to ensure sustainability and provide trophy fishing opportunities, based on existing science and current knowledge, and to simplify regulations, which are ultimately selected.

regulations-and-enforcement

Simonson, T. D. and S. W. Hewitt. 1999. Trends in Wisconsin’s muskellunge fishery. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 19:291-299.

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Recreational Fisheries

Wisconsin’s populations of muskellunge Esox masquinongy provide an important recreational fishery. Our objectives were to (1) evaluate progress of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources muskellunge management plan, (2) examine subsequent changes in the fishery, and (3) evaluate Wisconsin’s muskellunge waters classification system. With the goal of maintaining viable populations and a trophy fishery, the 1979 plan endorsed more restrictive harvest regulations, an increased supply of muskellunge fishing opportunities, and increased data collection. Since the 1980s, muskellunge fishing opportunities have increased 75% in terms of lake acres and 51% in terms of stream miles. Hatchery production and stocking efficacy have improved to the point where the department needs to reevaluate current stocking practices. With the establishment of a shorter season, a higher statewide minimum length limit, and an increased use of special regulations, harvest regulations have become progressively more restrictive. Concurrently, muskellunge‐specific fishing effort increased from the 1980s to the 1990s. Harvest of muskellunge declined even though catch remained unchanged. Reducing the season length and increasing the overall availability of muskellunge angling opportunities did not reduce fishing effort on premier muskellunge lakes, but rather compressed effort into a shorter time period on increasingly popular waters. The reduction in harvest was associated with more restrictive regulations and voluntary changes in angler behavior (i.e., increased release of legal‐sized muskellunge). Without voluntary release, it is likely that angler harvest would have exceeded levels needed to sustain the fishery. The muskellunge waters classification system, based originally on professional judgment, proved useful in distinguishing the fishery potential of lakes. Preliminary evidence suggests that voluntary constraints on harvest have not improved the size‐structure of Wisconsin muskellunge populations because of continued harvest of nontrophy‐sized fish. If our goal remains to provide a trophy fishery, more restrictive size‐specific restrictions on harvest may be needed.

recreational-fisheries

Kapuscinski, K. L., J. M. Farrell and M. A> Wilkinson. 2014. Trends in muskellunge population and fishery characteristics in Buffalo Harbor (Lake Erie) and the Niagara River. Journal of Great Lakes Research 40:125-134.

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Recreational Fisheries

We review the history of muskellunge management and describe population and fishery responses to management actions. Stocking of muskellunge in the Niagara River occurred sporadically from 1941 to 1974 when angler harvest was common. Since the late 1970s, managers have enacted increasingly restrictive minimum length limits and anglers adopted a catch-and-release ethic. Despite these efforts, angler catches declined sharply after 1991 in Buffalo Harbor and 1984 in the upper Niagara River; catch rates rebounded after 2006 in the Niagara River, but remain near all-time lows in Buffalo Harbor. In addition, mean catch rates of young-of-the-year (YOY) in fall electrofishing surveys declined from 3.3/h in 1992–1993 to 1.7/h in 2006–2009 in Buffalo Harbor and 11.0/h in 1992–1994 to 5.4/h in 2006–2009 in the Niagara River. Several ecosystem changes occurred that likely contributed to reductions in muskellunge populations, but comprehensive monitoring programs were not in place to quantify these effects. Recent seining surveys show YOY muskellunge production during 2007–2011 was highly variable among index sites (within years) and years, but catch per unit effort was 5.3 times higher at Niagara River sites than Buffalo Harbor sites; catch per unit effort of all fishes was 9.5 times higher in the upper Niagara River than Buffalo Harbor. Both areas are in need of habitat restoration, but habitats in Buffalo Harbor appear especially poor for nearshore fishes. Uncertainty about which factors led to declines in angler catches of muskellunge and YOY production demonstrates the need for a comprehensive monitoring program and formal muskellunge management plan.

recreational-fisheries

Gilbert, S. J. and G. G. Sass. 2016. Trends in a northern Wisconsin muskellunge fishery: Results from a countywide angling contest, 1964-2010. Fisheries Management and Ecology 23:172-176.

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Recreational Fisheries

Trends in a northern Wisconsin muskellunge fishery: Results from a countywide angling contest, 1964-2010

recreational-fisheries

Brenden, T. O., E. M. Hallerman, B. R. Murphy, J. R. Copeland and J. A. Williams. 2007. The New River, Virginia, muskellunge fishery: Population dynamics, harvest regulation, monitoring and angler attitudes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:11-25.

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Recreational Fisheries

Although muskellunge, Esox masquinongy, fisheries in northern US states and Canadian provinces are increasingly being managed by introduction of restrictive harvest regulations (e.g. 1370-mm (54′′) minimum length limits), many southern US muskellunge fisheries continue to be managed with comparatively liberal regulations (e.g. 762-mm (30′′) minimum length limits) that are implemented statewide. We studied the population dynamics of the New River, Virginia, muskellunge fishery and used predictive modeling to determine whether restrictive harvest regulations also might prove beneficial for this southern latitude fishery. A creel survey was also conducted to learn more about angler attitudes to the New River muskellunge fishery. Muskellunge grew quickly, with fish reaching harvestable lengths (762 mm, 30′′) in 2–3 years. Muskellunge fishing pressure, harvest rates, and voluntary release rates were low compared with reports for more northern areas. Most anglers, irrespective of how often they fished for muskellunge, defined “trophy” muskellunge to be approximately 1050–1100 mm (41–43′′) in length. Although angler support for restrictive harvest regulations was low, abundance of memorable-length (≥1070 mm, 42′′) muskellunge was predicted to increase under all evaluated length limits. Muskellunge yield would remain static at 914-mm (36′′) and 1016-mm (40′′) length limits, because of the rapid growth of fish, but yield would decline dramatically with a 1143-mm (45′′) length limit, because male muskellunge rarely exceeded 1100 mm (43′′). Because of rapid growth and low release rates, implementation of higher length limits (e.g. 965–1067 mm, 38–42′′) may indeed prove beneficial for augmenting “trophy” muskellunge production on the New River. Angler support for higher minimum length limits might be increased by educating anglers about the rapid growth rates of muskellunge and the expected size structure changes that will result from a length-limit increase. Size structure changes resulting from an increase in the minimum length limit may be difficult to detect because of potential increases in fishing pressure or reduced fish growth as a result of competition for food resources. Long-term monitoring of muskellunge growth and angling pressure may therefore be needed to ensure that new regulations are indeed benefitting the fishery.

recreational-fisheries

Kapuscinski, K. L., B. J. Belonger, S. Fajfer and T. J. Lychwick. 2007. Population dynamics of muskellunge in Wisconsin waters of Green Bay, Lake Michigan, 1989-2005. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:27-36.

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Population Dynamics

Muskellunge, Esox masquinongy, were an important component of the Green Bay ecosystem prior to mid 1900s, but were extirpated by over-fishing, pollution, habitat degradation, and the introduction of exotic species. The Green Bay ecosystem improved after the passage of the Clean Water Act, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) started a muskellunge reintroduction program in 1989. Monitoring the results of reintroduction efforts is necessary to achieve the program goal of establishing a self-sustaining population. We used available data to provide a 2005 spawner abundance estimate for a Green Bay tributary, estimates of contributions to that spawning stock from fall fingerling and yearling stocking, a weight–length relationship, a growth analysis, and a description of size and age at maturity. Our results indicate that stocking efforts have been successful in producing an adult population, with yearlings contributing to the spawning stock at a higher proportion than fingerlings (14.69:1). Our weight–length and growth analyses suggest that Green Bay muskellunge are unlikely to reach record length, but that it is possible for females to achieve record weight. The rapid growth of Green Bay muskellunge results in their maturing at larger sizes than other stocks, but the relationship between age and maturity is not well understood. Reintroduction efforts in Green Bay have created stocked populations capable of supporting trophy fisheries, but evidence of successful natural reproduction has not been observed. Future research should focus on the reproductive requirements of muskellunge reintroduced into altered habitats.

population-dynamics

Frohnauer, N. K., C. L. Pierce and W. Kallemeyn. 2007. Population dynamics and angler exploitation of the unique muskellunge population in Shoepack Lake, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 27:63-76.

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Population Dynamics

A unique population of muskellunge Esox masquinongy inhabits Shoepack Lake in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota. Little is known about its status, dynamics, and angler exploitation, and there is concern for the long-term viability of this population. We used intensive sampling and mark–recapture methods to quantify abundance, survival, growth, condition, age at maturity and fecundity and angler surveys to quantify angler pressure, catch rates, and exploitation. During our study, heavy rain washed out a dam constructed by beavers Castor canadensis which regulates the water level at the lake outlet, resulting in a nearly 50% reduction in surface area. We estimated a population size of 1,120 adult fish at the beginning of the study. No immediate reduction in population size was detected in response to the loss of lake area, although there was a gradual, but significant, decline in population size over the 2-year study. Adults grew less than 50 mm per year, and relative weight (W r) averaged roughly 80. Anglers were successful in catching, on average, two fish during a full day of angling, but harvest was negligible. Shoepack Lake muskellunge exhibit much slower growth rates and lower condition, but much higher densities and angler catch per unit effort (CPUE), than other muskellunge populations. The unique nature, limited distribution, and location of this population in a national park require special consideration for management. The results of this study provide the basis for assessing the long-term viability of the Shoepack Lake muskellunge population through simulations of long-term population dynamics and genetically effective population size.

population-dynamics

Eslinger, L. D., D. M. Dolan and S. P. Newman. 2010. Factors affecting recruitment of age-0 muskellunge in Escanaba Lake, Wisconsin, 1987-2006. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 30:908-920.

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Population Dynamics

We modeled variation in recruitment (R) of age-0 muskellunge Esox masquinongy to identify factors influencing their abundance in Escanaba Lake, Wisconsin. Muskellunge R declined over the study period and ranged from 0.00 to 1.85 age-0 fish/km of shoreline (mean = 0.42 age-0 fish/km of shoreline). A Ricker stock–recruitment model determined that the following factors explained 88% of the variation in annual R of age-0 muskellunge between 1987 and 2006: abundance and age structure of the adult muskellunge population, abundance of bluntnose minnow Pimephales notatus, abundance of age-3 and older (age-3+) walleyes Sander vitreus, abundance of age-0 white suckers Catostomus commersonii, and coefficient of variation (CV) of May water temperatures. Abundance of adult muskellunge (≥76.2 cm total length) accounted for only 1% of the variation in R and showed no significant relationship with R. Abundance of bluntnose minnow improved the model fit to 40% of the variation in R and indicated that higher R was achieved with greater numbers of bluntnose minnow. The average age of adult muskellunge further improved the model fit to 59% of the variation in R, suggesting that R increased when more young adults were present in the population. The abundance of age-3+ walleyes enhanced the model fit to 69% of the variation in R and indicated that greater R occurred with high numbers of walleyes. The abundance of age-0 white suckers improved the model to explain 77% of the variation in R and indicated that more recruits occurred when numbers of age-0 white suckers were low. Finally, the CV of May water temperatures further improved the model to explain 88% of the variation in R and signified that lower variability in May water temperatures was beneficial to recruitment success. We interpret the model results to mean that muskellunge R in Escanaba Lake is regulated by the reproductive potential of the adult muskellunge population, forage availability, variation in May water temperatures, and other community dynamics.

population-dynamics

Muir, B. S. 1964. Vital statistics of Esox masquinongy in Nogies Creek, Ontario: Population size, natural mortality and effects of fishing. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 221:727-746.

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Population Dynamics

Several methods for the estimation of population size and natural mortality are used and evaluated, for the Nogies Creek maskinonge, with consideration being given to the sources of error and correcting factors discussed by Muir (1963a). The Schumacher tagging method and a method using only catch and average exploitation are found to be equally useful.The same catch and exploitation method is used to estimate natural mortality and the estimates agree with those from the Beverton and Holt type method. Both methods suffer from large year-to-year errors but the 9-year average appears to be a useful statistic. Natural mortality increases with age and is about 15% per year for age IV and older and about 24% per year for age V and older.There is only a 2-fold variation in the estimated age IV size of year-classes. The smallest of 9 year-classes was 302 and the largest was 604. No effect of fishing on subsequent year-class production could be demonstrated during the period of study. Heavy fishing did, however, remove large numbers of older fish with a resultant increase in catchability of the younger fish.

population-dynamics

Nuemann, R. M. and T. W. Storck. 1994. Relative weight as a condition index for muskellunge. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 9:13-18.

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Physiology

Weight-length data were obtained for 45 muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) populations (N=4,343) from 16 states to develop a standard weight (Ws) equation that would allow calculation of relative weight (Wr) values. We developed a 75-percentile equation using the regression-line-percentile method. The proposed equation, based on all fish combined, is log10 Ws(g) = −6.066 + 3.325 log10TL(mm). The English equivalent for this equation is log10Ws(lb) = −4.052 + 3.325 log10TL(in). This equation is useful for 38 cm and longer muskellunge, and there was no evidence of consistent trends in increasing or decreasing Wr with increasing fish length. Because muskellunge can be sexed based on external characteristics, we also developed separate Ws equations for male and female muskellunge. However, Wr values calculated with the combined equation were quite similar (Wr values within 1–2) to those for values calculated from the female-only Ws equation. Values calculated with the male-only Ws equation were slightly more variable.

physiology

Miles, H. M., S. M. Loehner, D. T. Mimchaud and S. L. Salivar. 1974. Physiological responses of hatchery-reared muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) to handling. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 103:336-342.

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Physiology

Increases in plasma lactate and glucose concentrations, along with decreases in plasma chloride and liver glycogen concentrations, were observed in muskellunge in response to capture and handling. Holding muskellunge in 0.3% NaCl alleviated some of the physiological symptoms of stress, but holding the fish in the lake for 48 hr before release had no effect. Physiological responses to fin-clipping and transport by truck were slight in comparison to that of original capture. Salt treatment and reduction in duration and frequency of handling is recommended.

physiology

Lin, F., K. Drabrowski and L. P. M. Timmermans. 1997. Early gonadal development and sexual differentiation in muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). Canadian Journal of Zoology 75:1262-1269.

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Physiology

Primordial germ cells (PGCs) were first identified in muskellunge (Esox masquinongymm TL were at the early stage of perinucleolus (early diplotene). Our observations indicate that in muskellunge ( mm TL. Female gonads contained lobes with germ cells, including oogonia, early-prophase oocytes, and large oocytes. Spermatogonia and cells undergoing mitosis were observed in the testis. Ovaries in a fish of 250 mm TL, female gonads could be clearly identified from the ovarian sac and groups of oogonia, whereas in another type of gonad, the morphology of undifferentiated gonads was maintained. Germ cells became numerous in both sexes at 211 mm TL, while the germ cells were still considered to be undifferentiated. In a fish of 138 mm TL. Some of the PGCs underwent mitotic division at this stage. The ovarian sac started to develop in a fish of 82 mm TL, gonad strings were complete and formed a typical gonad shape in cross section. Blood vessels were first found in the gonads with Crossmon staining at 46 mm total length (TL) 3 weeks post fertilization. At 32 ) of 14i) the PGCs remained in a resting state for up to 8 weeks post fertilization, (ii) gametogenesis occurred earlier in females than in males, (iii) the gonads developed from an undifferentiated stage directly into an ovary or testis, and (iv) the somatic elements in the gonads differentiated prior to the germ cells.

physiology

Jonas, J. L., C. E. Craft and T. L. Margenau. 1996. Assessment of seasonal changes in energy density and condition in age-0 and age-1 muskellunge. Transactions of the
American Fisheries Society 125:203-210.

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Physiology

The objectives of this study were to evaluate seasonal changes in the energy density of age-0 and age-1 muskellunge Esox masquinongy and to compare energy density to various estimates of condition. Three treatment groups of muskellunge were evaluated to determine temporal changes in energy density (J/g wet weight [ww]), water content, condition factor (K TL; K = W/L 3, where W = weight and L = total length in centimeters), and relative weight (Wr .; ratio of actual to “standard” weight) through the first year following hatching. Treatment groups were (1) hatchery (muskellunge reared and maintained in hatchery ponds), (2) stocked (hatchery-reared muskellunge stocked in lakes), and (3) natural (muskellunge naturally produced in lakes). Energy levels and relative condition were compared for fish 4 and 11 months old. Differences in energy density were observed between all three treatment groups. An average overwinter reduction of 494 ± 192 J/g ww in energy density was observed over all treatment groups combined. Natural fish lost less energy (8%) over winter than either hatchery (12%) or stocked fish (15%). A simple linear model effectively relates energy to indices of condition for muskellunge. A weak positive relation (P < 0.0001, r 2 = 0.39, 0.40, and 0.43) was observed between dry weight energy density and three indicators of fish condition (percent water, K, and Wr ). Our results show that condition indices may not be the best indicators of seasonal fluctuations in total energy within and between fish populations. Seasonal fluctuations in energetic values for a population can be more accurately determined through assessment of percent water in individual fish.

physiology

Wolter, M. H., C. S. DeBoom and D. H. Wahl. 2013. Field and laboratory evaluation of dam escapement of muskellunge. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 33:829-838.

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Movements

Muskellunge Esox masquinongy occur in many Midwestern reservoirs where dam escapement is often reported. Because densities of Muskellunge in many reservoirs are low, escapement is a concern. Little is known regarding the factors that influence rates of Muskellunge dam escapement or the proportion of reservoir populations that escape annually. We used controlled laboratory experiments to examine how juvenile Muskellunge interact with flow over a barrier at varying levels of turbidity, flow rate, habitat availability, and periods in the diel cycle. In the field we inserted PIT tags into juvenile and adult Muskellunge, monitored their escapement over a dam with an antenna array, and then compared escapement among demographic groups and described escapement in relation to precipitation events, water temperature, and water clarity. Both laboratory and field studies found Muskellunge were more likely to escape during the day than at night. We estimated that 25% of a reservoir Muskellunge population escaped within the 1-year period of this study, with escapement occurring during late spring but not during fall. Adults were more likely to escape than juveniles, and both sexes escaped at equal rates. Methods developed here can be used to provide useful information to managers and develop mitigation practices to limit escapement in situations where it is not desirable.

movements

Tipping, J. M. 2001. Movement of tiger muskellunge in Mayfield Reservoir,Washington. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 21:683-687.

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Movements

Sixteen 67–100-cm tiger muskellunge (hybrids of northern pike Esox lucius and muskellunge E. masquinongy) were implanted with ultrasonic tags and tracked in Mayfield Reservoir for 7–34 months to determine seasonal movements. Year-to-year site fidelity was observed, and the area occupied in summer and fall was about one-third of that occupied in winter and spring. The distance traveled by fish in summer–fall was about half of that in winter–spring. Tiger muskellunge were located in aquatic macrophytes in 2–3 m of water in summer–fall and offshore in 5–10 m of water in winter–spring. These results are consistent with research on both parent species and suggest that interactions with salmonids may be minimal.

movements

Muir, B. S. and J. G., Sweet. 1964. The survival, growth and movement of Esox masquinongy transplanted from Nogies Creek sanctuary to public fishing waters. Canadian Fish Culturist 32:31-44.

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Movements

Conservationists in Ontario have been concerned for many years with the apparent decline in numbers of the maskinonge, or lunge (Esox masquinongy). A great deal of effort has been expended in artificial propagation with the aim of augmenting natural reproduction, and large numbers of fry and fingerlings have been planted throughout southern Ontario each year. In 1960, for example, approximately four million fry and fifty thousand fingerlings were reared at the provincial hatchery at Deer Lake and planted throughout the province. In view of the many natural enemies of juveniles, and since maskinonge do not normally reach maturity until the fifth or sixth year, there would appear to be merit in raising the fish to a larger size before planting. Elson (1940), experimenting with the planting of fry in a nursery area, obtained a minimum survival of 0.08% for the first year. The experiments were not, however, pursued. In 1952 the transplanting of juvenile and adult maskinonge from Nogies Creek Sanctuary was begun, to determine their value in restocking public lakes. Although hatchery fingerlings were planted into the sanctuary from 1952 on (Muir, 1960), the bulk of the harvested fish were the result of natural reproduction by the resident population. It is noteworthy however, that the planted hatchery fingerlings displayed a survival rate (to age III) ranging from about three per cent to about ten per cent (unpublished). The present report deals with the survival, growth and movement, until time of recapture, of the fish transplanted from the sanctuary.

movements

Kerr, S. J. and B. Jones. 2016. The Saint John River Muskellunge Tagging Project, 2006-2015. Report prepared for the Saint John River Chapter of Muskies Canada Inc. Fredericton, New Brunswick. 14 p. + appendices.

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Movements

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 Saint John River Chapter of Muskies Canada 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 behaviour 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.

movements

Crossman, E. J. 1977. Displacement and home range movements of muskellunge determined by ultrasonic tracking. Environmental Biology of Fishes 1:145-158.

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Movements

Five adult or subadult muskellunge, Esox masquinongy (Salmoniformes: Esocoidei), were tracked over periods of 6–11 days by means of ultrasonic (74 ± 1 Khz) transmitters, surgically implanted in the body cavity. One of these fish demonstrated that survival and well-being for over a year is probable. There was no apparent effect on equilibrium, swimming, or feeding. There was also no apparent abnormally high amount of movement immediately after release.

Signal range was at times no greater than 10 m (in contrast to a potential of 1 km) as a result of the air in the dense aquatic vegetation.

Area occupied by a single individual for a protracted period could be described as a linear distance of 300–800 m in the stream, or a circle 300 m in diameter in the lake. Displaced individuals returned to a specific locality. Following spawning they do so over a distance as great as 6.4 km in a maximum of two days. There was evidence that two individuals used the same general area simultaneously.

Subsequent results with some of the same individuals indicated that radio transmitters are more practical and yield better results in the situation under study.

movements

Crossman, E. J. 1856. Growth, mortality and movements of a sanctuary population of maskinonge (Esox masquinongy). Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 13:599-612.

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Movements

A Schumacher population estimate based on 995 maskinonge taken by trap nets, between the months of May and October in the years 1951–1953, set the number of maskinonge in Nogies Creek at between 769 and 1,122 in July 1953. The mean standard length of these fish was 53.0cm. S.L. in the first year) compared favourably with that for maskinonge in other waters. Fish of age-groups II, III and IV predominated. The small number of fish over four years of age was apparently due to a 70% annual mortality rate at least after the third year of life and perhaps before age III.Recaptures of tagged maskinonge demonstrated that there was little movement of maskinonge in summer, and what movement there was, was mainly upstream. In the fall there was far more movement of fish, and this was mainly in a downstream direction.The area supports a fairly large population of maskinonge but the high mortality after three years of age limits its value for raising maskinonge to legal size. The potential for rearing fish to three years of age is such that it may be very advantageous to move hatchery fish here for one or two years before liberation. cm. The rate of growth (26.3

movements

Scott, W. B. and E. J. Crossman. 1973. Muskellunge. p. 363-370 In Freshwater fishes of Canada. Bulletin 184. Fisheries Research Board of Canada. Ottawa, Ontario. 966 p.

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Miscellaneous

Muskellunge. p. 363-370 In Freshwater fishes of Canada

miscellaneous

LeBeau, B. 1992. Historical ecology of northern pike (Esox lucius) , muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) and maskinonge, a new species of Esox (subgenus mascalongus) from North America. Ph. D. Dissertation. University of Toronto. Toronto, Ontario.

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Miscellaneous

Historical ecology of northern pike, muskellunge and maskinonge, a new species of Esox from North America.

miscellaneous

Casselman, J. M. 2007. Dr. E. J. (Ed) Crossman’s scientific contributions on muskellunge: Celebrating a lasting legacy. Environmental Biology of Fishes 19:5-10.

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Miscellaneous

Dr. E. J. (Ed) Crossman’s scientific contributions on muskellunge: Celebrating a lasting legacy.

miscellaneous

Stein, R. A., R. F. Carline and R. S. Hayward. 1981. Largemouth bass predation on stocked tiger muskellunge. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 110:604-612.

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Interactions with Other Species

To better understand why stocked esocids survive poorly, we estimated mortality rates of tiger muskellunge (F1 hybrid of female muskellunge Esox masquinongy x male northern pike E. lucius) that were placed into two Ohio reservoirs (mean fish total lengths, 171 and 179 mm; 62 fish per hectare). Because pond experiments showed that hybrids stocked at night experienced mortality rates as high as those released during the day, we stocked tiger muskellunge into lakes during the day. Mortality of stocked hybrids (estimated by catch per effort of electrofishing) exceeded 95% within 40 days in both lakes. Population estimates of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides coupled with stomach-content data revealed that these predators accounted for 26% and 45% of the numbers stocked in the two lakes. In addition, some hybrids died from thermal stress. Improved survival of tiger muskellunge should result if they are stocked at lengths greater than 250 mm to reduce predation losses, and late in fall when thermal stress is reduced.

interactions-with-other-species

Knapp, M. L., S. W. Mero, D. J. Bohlander, D. F. Staples and J. A. Younk. 2012. Fish community responses to the introduction of muskellunge into Minnesota lakes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 32:191-201.

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Interactions with Other Species

The popularity of sportfishing for muskellunge Esox masquinongy in Minnesota has increased substantially during the last 20 years and has resulted in a call for creating more fishing opportunities. As new waters are considered for muskellunge management, some anglers have expressed concern over the effects on other popular game fish species of adding a top-level predator. We evaluated the responses of seven fish species to muskellunge by comparing gill-net and/or trap-net catch per unit effort (CPUE) before and after muskellunge were stocked in 41 Minnesota lakes composed of 12 lake-classes. The species examined were northern pike Esox lucius, walleye Sander vitreus, yellow perch Perca flavescens, bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, black crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus, white sucker Catostomus commersonii, and cisco Coregonus artedi. We found no significant decreases among the lakes in the mean CPUE of any species after muskellunge stocking, either for the stocked lakes as a whole or within lake-classes. There was a significant increase in the mean CPUE for bluegills over the entire group of lakes and within lake-class 24 in addition to an increase in the mean CPUE for black crappies sampled by gill nets in lake-class 25. Nevertheless, there was large variability in the changes in CPUE among lakes, and several individual lakes had significant changes in mean CPUE for some species following muskellunge stocking. The trend in CPUE increased for yellow perch and declined for white suckers over the entire group of lakes after muskellunge stocking. Because Minnesota follows established, biologically based guidelines for selecting new muskellunge lakes, the study lakes were not chosen at random and therefore the study conclusions most appropriately apply to lakes chosen in this manner. The lack of consistent negative changes in CPUE after stocking suggests that these fish species have generally coexisted well with muskellunge in these lakes at the densities that have resulted from stocking.

interactions-with-other-species

Kerr, S. J. and R. E. Grant. 2000. Muskellunge. p. 325-355 In Ecological impacts of fish introductions: Evaluating the risk. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 473 p.

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Interactions with Other Species

Ecological impacts of fish introductions: Evaluating the risk

interactions-with-other-species

Fayram, A. H., M. Hansen and T. E. Ehlinger. 2005. Interactions between walleye and four fish species with implications for walleye stocking. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 25:1321-1330.

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Interactions with Other Species

We used a number of different data sets and four criteria to evaluate evidence of competition and predation between walleye Sander vitreus and northern pike Esox lucius, muskellunge E. masquinongy, smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu, and largemouth bass M. salmoides in northern Wisconsin lakes. The four criteria were as follows: (1) indices of population abundance were inversely related, (2) two species had shared resources or one species preyed on the other, (3) competition or predation was strong enough to produce a measurable effect, and (4) experimental manipulations produced results consistent with the hypothesis of competition or predation. Using these criteria, we identified which species interact most strongly with walleyes, determined the most likely mechanism for interaction (predation, competition, or both), and characterized the effects of walleye stocking on these species. Largemouth bass was the only species that strongly interacted with walleyes: (1) indices of largemouth bass and walleye population abundance were inversely related in lakes with self-sustaining walleye populations; (2) the diet of largemouth bass included juvenile walleyes; (3) walleye growth was positively related to indices of largemouth bass abundance; and (4) survival of stocked walleyes was negatively related to indices of largemouth bass abundance, and indices of largemouth bass abundances increased as an index of walleye stocking intensity increased. A bioenergetics analysis of one lake that was stocked with 39,300 juvenile walleyes, but also has some natural reproduction of walleyes, suggested that the largemouth bass population could consume up to 82,500 juvenile walleyes per year. Our findings suggest that largemouth bass interact strongly with walleyes through predation, that they can limit the survival of stocked walleyes, and that walleye stocking can result in increased largemouth bass populations. Therefore, management goals seeking to simultaneously maximize largemouth bass and walleye populations may be unrealistic.

interactions-with-other-species

Farrell, J. M., R. G. Wewrner, S. R. LaPan and K. A. Claypool. 1996. Egg distribution and spawning habitat of northern pike and muskellunge in a St. Lawrence River marsh, New York. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 125:127-131.

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Interactions with Other Species

Coexistence of northern pike Esox lucius and muskellunge Esox masquinongy in the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers has been hypothesized to depend on segregation during spawning. However, large overlap in the use of spawning areas by these two species occurs in the Thousand Islands section of the upper St. Lawrence River. In this study, egg collections in Point Marguerite Marsh in the upper river revealed a partial temporal and spatial overlap in egg deposition by northern pike and muskellunge. Northern pike began spawning earlier but overlapped with muskellunge spawning for 2 weeks, May 13–27. Northern pike eggs were collected over a larger area than muskellunge eggs and at all locations where muskellunge eggs were collected. Both species deposited eggs over three dominant genera of vegetation: pondweeds Potamogeton, duckweeds Lemna, and stonewort Chara. Northern pike spawned over a wider range of water depths (0.5–2.6 m) than muskellunge (0.8–1.5 m) and selected habitats with denser, taller vegetative cover. The temporal and spatial overlap of northern pike and muskellunge egg deposition suggests that mechanisms other than spawning segregation permit these two species to coexist in the St. Lawrence River.

interactions-with-other-species

Cooper, J., J. V. Mead, J. M. Farrell and R. G. Werner. 2008. Potential effects of spawning habitat changes on the segregation of northern pike (Esox lucius) and muskellunge (E. masquinongy) in the Upper St. Lawrence River

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Interactions with Other Species

Changes in spawning habitat of northern pike (Esox lucius) may affect their segregation from and coexistence with the closely related muskellunge (E. masquinongy). We estimated the areal coverage of robust and shallow emergent vegetation in three shared-spawning bays in the Upper St. Lawrence River from aerial photographs taken from 1948 to 2003. Robust emergent vegetation (e.g., cattail) increased in coverage by 155–241% while shallow emergents (sedges) decreased by 46–96%. The loss of sedges, an important northern pike-spawning habitat, may facilitate greater spawning overlap in offshore-submersed aquatic vegetation within bay habitats used by muskellunge. Development rates and characteristics of northern pike and muskellunge eggs and larvae were compared to better understand the implications of greater spawning overlap. Northern pike eggs developed faster than muskellunge eggs at temperatures of 4.7–19°C, and adhesive eggs and the presence of adhesive papillae were present in both species. Equations were used to predict degree-day requirements for hatching and swim-up in three habitats (shallow emergents, bay, and offshore shoal) along a temperature gradient. Northern pike required more estimated degree days to reach hatching in bay and offshore shoal habitat relative to shallow emergent habitat due to cooler temperatures. Significant spawning overlap is known to occur within bay habitats, but poor success of northern pike in deep bay habitats and overall reductions in abundance are hypothesized to currently buffer muskellunge from potential negative interactions between these species.

interactions-with-other-species

Pyzer, G. 2019. Is it a muskie, pike or tiger? Here’s how the experts identify these fish. August 22 Issue of Outdoor Canada. Toronto, Ontario.

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Hybridization

Is it a muskie, pike or tiger? Here’s how the experts identify these fish

hybridization

Crossman, E. J. and K. Buss. 1965. Hybridization in the family Esocidae. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 22:1261-1292.

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Hybridization

Of 11 possible hybrids of species in the family Esocidae, six were known from nature and they are reviewed. The occurrence of a seventh, Esox lucius × Esox americanus americanus, is recorded. Of 22 possible reciprocal combinations of these species, five were previously known, five are still unknown, and 12 are newly described here. These 12 are based on artificial hybrids of known gametic constitution. Data are given on: description (young and oldest material available); growth; fertility; vitality and meristics are compared with parent populations. The low level of interspecific sterility was surprising. Some interspecific sterility exists between the two largest (Esox masquinongy Mitchill, Esox lucius Linnaeus) and the two smallest (Esox americanus Gmelin) forms. Total sterility does not exist as artificially one or other of the reciprocals was successful in each cross, including Esox masquinongy × Esox americanus. The hybrids exhibited the blending and intermediate nature usual in fish hybrids but colour pattern seemed tied to a particular parent. In nature only certain species hybridize, but it would appear that incompatibility of gametes has proceeded only to a limited extent. Other factors such as distribution, habitat, size, and behavior may be preventing hybridization.

hybridization

Wahl, D. H. and R. A. Stein. 1993. Comparative population characteristics of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), northern pike (E. lucius) and their hybrid (E. masquinongy x E. lucius). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 50:1961-1968.

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Hybridization

We compared growth, survival, diet, and angler catch of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), northern pike (E. lucius), and tiger muskellunge (E. masquinongy x E. lucius) through 5 yr after their introduction into three Ohio reservoirs. Muskellunge grew slower than northern pike and tiger muskellunge through the first year but faster than northern pike in subsequent years. Large stocked esocids (180-205 mm) survived better than small ones (145 mm). Survival patterns established through the first fall were maintained through age 5; northern pike survived best, followed by muskellunge and tiger muskellunge. Angler catch reflected differences in survival as well as catchability among taxa. Northern pike were caught at smaller sizes and younger ages than other taxa. Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) dominated esocid diets for all taxa and age classes, followed by centrarchids and cyprinids. Prey length consumed increased linearly with esocid length; northern pike selected larger gizzard shad than either muskellunge or tiger muskellunge. These differences in population characteristics among esocids should influence management and stocking programs. Whereas northern pike maximize angling opportunities, muskellunge probably will provide trophy fisheries. Although tiger muskellunge can be reared inexpensively, they appear to provide little recreational fishing in return.

hybridization

Cameron, G. S. 1948. An unusual maskinonge from Little Vermilion Lake. p. 223-229 In Royal Ontario Museum Zoological Contribution 31. Toronto, Ontario.

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Hybridization

An unusual type of maskinonge found in two lakes in Kenora District, Ontario, is regarded as a hybrid between Esox masquinongy and Esox lucius. It differs from the typical maskinonge found in the same waters in having a stouter body, longer and deeper head, longer maxillary, and longer fins. It retains dark vertical bars throughout life whereas in the typical form these break up and tend to disappear with age. Of 69 specimens examined, six were of the presumed hybrid type. These all appeared to be sterile. They showed the following Esox lucius characters—cheeks totally scaled, head concave interorbitally, cheeks and opercula vividly marked.

hybridization

Weller, J. D. and P. Chow-Fraser. 2019. Development of a multi scale wetland resilience index from muskellunge nursery habitat in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. Ecological Indicators 103:212-225.

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Habitat

In a 2012 study, no age-0 muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) were found in any of 16 historic nursery sites in coastal marshes of southeastern Georgian Bay (SEGB), and this was attributed to sustained low water levels (1999–2013) that had altered the vegetation structure of nursery habitat. In the same study, age-0 muskellunge were found in 16 coastal marshes surveyed in northern Georgian Bay (NGB), even though these sites had been subjected to the same water-level conditions. We hypothesize that hydrogeomorphic features of NGB sites made them resilient to effects of sustained low lake levels that made the SEGB sites unsuitable for age-0 muskellunge. Compared to their SEGB counterparts, the NGB nursery sites were significantly steeper, deeper, and less sheltered under low water levels. We used these hydrogeomorphic features to develop a multi-scale Resilience Index (RI) for identifying coastal wetlands that are resilient to stable low lake levels. The RI correctly classified the NGB and SEGB nursery sites, with an area-under-the-curve score of 0.973. Coarser-scale variants of the RI provide a regional screening tool in the identification of resilient wetland habitat (e.g. potential muskellunge nursery habitat), and a basin-wide approach to identify vulnerable wetland habitats. This multi-scale index, in conjunction with targeted field surveys, should provide managers a useful tool in the face of uncertain water level forecasts.

habitat

Pankhurst, K., J. D. Midwood, H. Wachelka and S. J. Cooke. 2016. Comparative spatial ecology of sympatric adult muskellunge and northern pike during a one year period in an urban reach of the Rideau River, Canada. Environmental Biology of Fishes 99:409-421.

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Habitat

The reach of the Rideau River that flows through Ottawa, Ontario supports a recreational fishery for northern pike (Esox lucius) and muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). The reach is unique not only because such a vibrant esocid-based recreational fishery exists in an urban center, but that these two species co-occur. Typically, when these species occur sympatrically, northern pike tend to exclude muskellunge. To ensure the persistence of these esocid populations and the fisheries they support it is important to identify key spawning, nursery, foraging and over-wintering locations along this reach, and to evaluate the extent to which adults of the two species exhibit spatio-temporal overlap in habitat use. Radio-telemetry was used to track adult northern pike (N = 18; length 510 to 890 mm) and adult muskellunge (N = 15; length 695 to 1200 mm) on 73 occasions over one year, with particular focus on the breeding seasons (early April until the end of May [56 % tracking effort]). For the two esocids, we observed 19–60 % overlap in key aggregation areas during each season and during the spawning period. The minimum activity (average linear river distance travelled between consecutive tracking events) and core range (linear river distance within 95 % C.I. of mean river position) were greatest in the winter and fall for northern pike and in the spring for muskellunge. On average, northern pike were considerably smaller than muskellunge and had lower minimum activities and smaller core ranges, which could be a result of thermal biology, limited suitable habitat, prey availability or predation. Results from this study will inform future management of these unique esocid populations and should be considered before any habitat alterations occurs within or adjacent to the Rideau River.

habitat

LeBlanc, J. P., J. D. Weller and P. Chow-Fraser. 2014. Thirty year update: Changes in biological characteristics of degraded muskellunge nursery habitat in southern Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. Canadian Journal of Great Lakes Research 40:870-878.

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Habitat

Aquatic vegetation is a critical component of nursery habitat for young-of-the-year (YOY) muskellunge. The trophy status of the muskellunge fishery in southeastern Georgian Bay owes its reputation to the widespread distribution of aquatic vegetation in coastal marshes of this region. Unfortunately, wetland habitat has been in decline because of an unprecedented period of sustained low water levels since 1999. In this study, we strategically resampled 16 historic sites that supported YOY muskellunge in 1981. The sustained low water levels and increased shoreline modifications experienced by southeastern Georgian Bay may have contributed to the current disappearance of YOY muskellunge at those sites. These physical stressors appeared to have altered the habitat structure of the plant community and led to changes in fish communities, making them no longer suitable for YOY muskellunge. The precise mechanisms limiting survival to the YOY stage are unknown because spawning adults have been observed in the area in the spring of 2012 and 2013. These results corroborated previous sampling programs at the historic sites (2004–2005: n = 8 and 2007: n = 16) that employed other fishing gears and protocols as well as a supplemental YOY sampling in 2013 (n = 26 additional sites). If this muskellunge population is to remain self-sustaining, a complementary management strategy specifically developed for Georgian Bay is required. The strategy should identify and ultimately protect suitable muskellunge breeding habitat by accounting for the unique geomorphology, current physical stressors affecting Georgian Bay, and the biological links between suitable spawning and nursery habitats.

habitat

Farmer, B. and P. Chow-Fraser. 2004. A conceptual model of muskellunge spawning habitat. B.Sc. Thesis. McMaster University. Hamilton, Ontario. 19 p.

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Habitat

The muskellunge is an economically important and often declining sport fish restricted to eastern and central North America. To assist research and management, especially in the Georgian Bay area, a conceptual model of muskellunge spawning habitat was developed from a meta-analysis of available peer-reviewed and technical literature. The model incorporates three primary variables: water temperature (7.5-15oC), dissolved oxygen (> 5 mg/L) at the sediment-water interface, and adequate separation of individual eggs after deposition. The model also assumes that muskellunge spawning occurs in wetlands because of their known association with aquatic vegetation. Secondary variables influencing primary conditions include (1) depth, current and substrate colour (assumed to have an effect on temperature); (2) current, sediment oxygen demand, sediment compactness and plant density (assumed to have an effect on dissolved oxygen concentrations); and (3) particle size and plant density (assumed to have an effect on egg separation). Field validation of these results will help to clarify the relative importance of each variable, and thus allow for refinement of the model.

habitat

Crane, D. P. and J. M. Farrell. 2015. Muskellunge egg incubation habitat in the upper Niagara River. Journal of Great Lakes Research 41:448-453.

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Habitat

Identification, conservation, and restoration of spawning and nursery habitats are essential for conserving the self-sustaining population of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in the upper Niagara River. The objectives of this study were to describe muskellunge egg incubation habitat, identify the most important habitat features associated with the presence of eggs, and make comparisons between spawning habitats identified through visual observation of spawning adults and collection of eggs. We conducted surveys for muskellunge eggs at four locations from 2012 through 2014 and used logistic regression to identify habitat features related to the presence or absence of eggs. We used Bayesian information criterion to select the most likely model and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve tests to determine variable importance and evaluate the model. One-hundred-thirty-six viable muskellunge eggs and two yolk-sac larvae were collected from 30 locations. The most likely model contained parameters for the percent rank of algae or aquatic macrophyte cover of the substrate and water depth. The percent rank of algae or aquatic macrophyte cover was the most important predictor of egg occurrence, and the odds of collecting a muskellunge egg increased by 100% for every 10 percentile increase in percent rank of cover. Spawning habitat features identified in this study were similar to those identified through visual observation of spawning adults. Muskellunge egg incubation locations and habitats should be protected from development and alteration to ensure the sustainability of muskellunge in the Niagara River.

habitat

Rougemont, Q., A. Carrier, J. LeLuyer, A. L. Ferchaud, J. M. Farrell, D. Hatin. P. Brodeur and L. Bernatchez. 2018. Population genetics of muskellunge in the St. Lawrence River, its main tributaries and inland lakes of Quebec. Muskies Canada Inc. Montreal, Quebec.

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Genetics

Over the past decades, an increasing number of fish species have undergone strong decrease in their abundance due to various human activities. Such activities may prevent the free movement of fish, generates pollution and habitat loss, overfishing and many additional problems. To overcome these demographic declines, numerous stocking programs have been implemented to sustain fish populations worldwide. This is the case of the Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in the province of Québec, Canada. The species is renowned for his trophy-size specimens which are highly prized by anglers. However, Muskellunge has undergone strong decline in abundance during the first half of the 20th century in the waters of the St. Lawrence River, especially in the greater Montréal region. Consequently, Muskellunge from Ontario and New York State were used for stocking over 1.5 million of individuals from 1950 to 1997. From 1950 to 1965, eggs initially taken from the Chautauqua Lake (New York State, USA) were transferred to the Lachine government hatchery in Québec where fry were reared before being released into the St. Lawrence River, several of its main tributaries and inland lakes. From 1965 to 1986, adults from Lake Joseph were used as source for stocking. Finally, from 1986 to 1997, eggs from Lake Tremblant were used. Muskellunge populations from Joseph and Tremblant Lakes were originally introduced with fish from the Lake Chautauqua source.

genetics

Younk, J. A. and R. F. Strand. 1992. Performance evaluation of four muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) strains in two Minnesota lakes. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Genetics

Performance of four muskellunge strains (Mississippi, Shoepack, Court Oreilles and Miinocqua) were evaluated in two Minnesota lakes. Shoepack strain matured earlier and at a smaller size than the Mississippi strain. Although temporal spawning periods tended to overlap, Mississippi strain spawned at significantly higher water temperatures than the Shoepack strain. After six growing seasons the Mississippi strain was longer and heavier than the other strains. Weight-length relationships were significantly different with Shoepack and Wisconsin strains exhibiting a more robust body shape. Ultimate growth potential was greatest for the Mississippi and Court Oreilles strains and least for the Minocqua and Shoepack strains. Mortality rates were similar except for the Shoepack strain which had the highest mortality rate. The superior growth performance of the Mississippi strain suggests that it should be the strain of choice for muskellunge culture in Minnesota.

genetics

Wilson, C. C., A. P. Liskauskas and K. M. Wozney. 2016. Pronounced genetic structure and site fidelity among native muskellunge populations in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 145:1290-1302.

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Genetics

Conservation and management issues related to genetic diversity and stock structure of native populations of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) have largely been unexplored. In Lake Huron’s North Channel and Georgian Bay, Muskellunge populations have been impacted by historical commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries, loss of spawning habitat, historical water quality issues, and ecosystem changes. To determine the spatial genetic structure of native Muskellunge in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, spawning adults were sampled from 10 sites in the North Channel and eastern Georgian Bay. Genotyping with 20 microsatellite DNA loci showed substantial spatial genetic structure, with significant pairwise divergences among spawning sites. Individual- and population-based analyses revealed hierarchical population structuring, with strong patterns of spawning site fidelity and isolation by distance; very low levels of dispersal and gene flow over historical and contemporary timescales were indicated. Estimation of effective population sizes highlighted the limited genetic resources that are present in these localized populations. The present results show that Muskellunge in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay consist of multiple small populations with limited ranges and high site fidelity and should be managed accordingly.

genetics

Scribner, K., P. Howell, K. Smith, P. Hanchin, M. Wlgamood and G. Whelan. 2015. Spatial genetic structure of suspected remnant and naturalized populations of muskellunge and evidence for introgression between stocked and native strains. Journal of Great Lakes Research 41:1131-1137.

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Genetics

Achievement of management goals to maintain, enhance, or re-establish fish species of management importance in the Great Lakes often relies on hatchery supplementation. Issues may arise when individuals of hatchery origin are super-imposed upon natural stocks, particularly when resident species are naturally in low abundance such as with most Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) populations. We used 12 microsatellite loci to survey 450 individuals from 13 populations to quantify the contributions of stocked individuals to the current Muskellunge stock structure in Michigan and document evidence of inter-strain hybridization. Genetic differentiation among populations based on variance in allele frequency was moderately high (mean Fst = 0.18), and was largely attributed to stocking history. The major genetic discordance was found among populations inhabiting waters with native Great Lakes and native and introduced Northern Muskellunge strains. We identified five genetic lineages, corresponding to native stocks (one Great Lake and two Northern strains) and two Northern Muskellunge strains obtained from other states and stocked across Michigan. Analyses revealed that the majority of populations sampled were composed of multiple hatchery strains of Northern Muskellunge, including waters connected to the Great Lakes and in waters with remnant native stocks. Admixtures of stocked strains and evidence of inter-strain hybridization were widespread. Collectively, data reveal that hatchery programs have the potential to restructure native fish populations on a statewide basis. Greater attention to current genetic stocks of both donor and recipient populations is advised to ensure that future supplementation efforts do not further erode the integrity of native stocks.

genetics

Kapuscinski, K. L. B. L. Sloss and J. M. Farrell. 2013. Genetic population structure of muskellunge in the Great Lakes. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 142:1075-1089.

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Genetics

We quantified genetic relationships among Muskellunge Esox masquinongy from 15 locations in the Great Lakes to determine the extent and distribution of measurable population structure and to identify appropriate spatial scales for fishery management and genetic conservation. We hypothesized that Muskellunge from each area represented genetically distinct populations, which would be evident from analyses of genotype data. A total of 691 Muskellunge were sampled (n = 10–127/site) and genetic data were collected at 13 microsatellite loci. Results from a suite of analyses (including pairwise genetic differentiation, Bayesian admixture prediction, analysis of molecular variance, and tests of isolation by distance) indicated the presence of nine distinct genetic groups, including two that were approximately 50 km apart. Geographic proximity and low habitat complexity seemed to facilitate genetic similarity among areas, whereas Muskellunge from areas of greater habitat heterogeneity exhibited high differentiation. Muskellunge from most areas contained private alleles, and mean within-area genetic variation was similar to that reported for other freshwater fishes. Management programs aimed at conserving the broader diversity and long-term sustainability of Muskellunge could benefit by considering the genetically distinct groups as independent fisheries, and individual spawning and nursery habitats could subsequently be protected to conserve the evolutionary potential of Muskellunge.

genetics

Bowser, P. R., J. W. Casey, G. A. Wooster, R. G. Getchell and C. Y. Chen. 2002. Lymposarcoma in hatchery-reared yearling tiger muskellunge. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 14:225-229.

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Disease and Parasites

Yearling tiger muskellunge (northern pike Esox lucius × muskellunge E. masquinongy) being cultured within the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s fish hatchery system were found to have external lesions that were grossly and microscopically consistent with descriptions of esocid lymphosarcoma. This neoplasia has been described as a tumor of adult northern pike and muskellunge; a retroviral etiology has been proposed for it. However, esocid lymphosarcoma has not previously been reported in tiger muskellunge. Owing to concerns about the potentially infectious nature of the condition in a hatchery environment, an experiment was conducted to determine whether the lesion could be transmitted to naive young-of-the-year tiger muskellunge in the laboratory by means of cell-free filtrates. At 32 weeks postchallenge, grossly visible lesions were observed on the challenged fish. Histological evaluation of these lesions confirmed that they were esocid lymphosarcoma. We believe that this is the first report of the natural occurrence of this disease in tiger muskellunge as well as in any esocid that was not an adult.

disease-and-parasites

Renaud, C. B. 2002. The muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) as a host for the silver lamprey (Icthyomyzon unicuspis) in the Ottawa River, Ontario/Quebec. Canadian Field Naturalist 116:433-440.

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Disease and Parasites

A new host, Esox masquinongy, the Muskellunge, for the Silver Lamprey, Ichthyomyzon unicuspis, is reported. Fifteen Silver Lamprey/Muskellunge interactions were documented in a 90-km section of the lower Ottawa River, on the Ontario as well as the Quebec side, from Ottawa to Hawkesbury between 1992 and 2001. Sites of attachment were predominantly on the back. Number of marks per host varied between 1 and 31 with a mean of 10.6. There was evidence of cytolytic activity of the buccal gland secretions. Shallowness of the fresh wounds indicated blood feeding rather than flesh feeding. Survival of the host was indicated by the presence of healed wounds in 26.7% of the cases. Muskellunge over 122 cm in total length were preferred over smaller individuals. Lampreys appeared to be more highly concentrated in the 50-km stretch of the lower Ottawa River, between Thurso and Hawkesbury, than they were in the 40-km stretch upstream, between Ottawa and Thurso.

disease-and-parasites

Kim, R. and M. Faisal. 2012. Shedding of viral hemorrhagic septicaemia virus by experimentally infected muskellunge. Journal of Microbiology 50:278-284.

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Disease and Parasites

Previous experimental infection demonstrated that juvenile muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) can survive experimental infection of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus, Genotype IVb (VHSV IVb) at a low concentration of exposure. Herein we report that survivors of experimental infection with VHSV IVb shed the virus into the surrounding environment for an extended period of time. When muskellunge were exposed to VHSV IVb by immersion at a concentration of 1,400 plaque forming units (PFU)/ml, VHSV IVb was detected in the water of surviving fish for up to 15 weeks postexposure (p.e.) with the highest levels of shedding occurring between weeks 1 and 5 p.e. We estimated that each juvenile muskellunge can shed upwards of 1.36×105 PFU/fish/h after initial exposure signifying the uptake and amplification of VHSV to several orders of magnitude above the original exposure concentration. Muskellunge surviving low concentration exposure were re-infected with VHSV IVb by immersion at week 22 p.e. at concentrations ranging from 0 to 106 PFU/ml. Viral shedding was detected in all re-exposed fish, including mock rechallenged controls up to 15 consecutive weeks. Rates of viral shedding were substantially higher following rechallenge in the first 5 weeks. The highest rate of viral shedding was approximately 4.6×106 PFU/fish/h and shedding did not necessarily correspond to the re-exposure VHSV concentration. The results of this study shed new light into the dynamics of VHSV IVb shedding in a highly susceptible host and provide useful insights to fishery managers to design effective control strategies to this deadly virus.

disease-and-parasites

Spooner, E. 2016. Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) feeding habits and habitat preferences in Lake St. Clair. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 30 p.

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Diets and Feeding Habits

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) are an economically and ecologically important species. Yet, our understanding of their feeding habits and habitat preference is limited and incomplete. This study addressed these shortcomings with muskellunge in Lake St. Clair. Muskellunge were captured by trolling on charter boats and electrofishing. Feeding habits were determined by comparing fish consumed to abundance of fish in the lake. Habitat preference was determined by spatially analyzing collected fish catch-per-unit-effort and lake conditions such as depth and submerged aquatic vegetation coverage. Overall, 167 muskellunge were sampled and 77% of them had empty stomachs. White bass (Morone chrysops) was the most common found prey species in their diet. Moronidae was the family composing the largest portion of their diet. Muskellunge were more abundant in water with greater depth. The entire lake appears to have suitable coverage of submerged aquatic vegetation with an average of 67%. In conclusion, muskellunge consumed small amounts of the main sport fish species in Lake St. Clair and likely have minimal impacts on those populations. The majority of Lake St. Clair has the preferred habitat for muskellunge and is likely to be a contributing factor to their large population.

diets-and-feeding-habits

Hourston, A. S. 1952. The food and growth of the maskinonge (Esox masquinongy) in Canadian waters. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 8:347-368.

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Diets and Feeding Habits

Maskinonge from three regions were studied: the Lake of the Woods district in Ontario (called Western); the Kawartha Lakes and Georgian Bay district in Ontario (Central) and the St. Lawrence River district in Quebec (Easternmm. in length. The families Percidae, Catostomidae, Ameiuridae, Centrarchidae, Hiodontidae, Esocidae and Cyprinidae were represented, along with at least one ). Examination of 202 stomachs, 81 containing food, showed the maskinonge to be a general carnivore, preying mainly on fish over 150 Cambarus. The yellow perch, Perca flavescens, was the species eaten most frequently in all three regions. A common white sucker (Catostomus commersonnii) was found in a stomach of the hybrid E. masquinongy × E. luciusmm. fork length. Specimens of a . Examination of the teeth of each specimen showed that they were being continuously replaced throughout the summer season.Rate of growth varied with sex and locality. Females had a significantly faster rate of growth, both in length and in weight, than did males. Maskinonge from the Western Region were shorter and weighed less than fish of the same age from the other two regions. Maskinonge of the Eastern and Central Regions reached the legal size of 30 inches fork length during their fifth summer, but in the Western Region they did not attain this size until their seventh summer. The length-weight relationship appears to be the same in the Eastern and Central Regions, whereas maskinonge from the Western Region tended to be heavier than those of comparable lengths from the other two regions. In all regions the length-weight relationship was a straight line when plotted logarithmically, its slope being estimated as 3.26 in the Eastern Region. Sexual maturity occurs first between the ages of three and six years, or about 575 to 800 E. masquinongy × E. lucius hybrid appeared to be infertile. They did not differ from the maskinonge specimens in their length-weight relationships but made faster growth than did the maskinonge from the same region.

diets-and-feeding-habits

Bozek, M. A., T. M. Burri and R. V. Frie. 1999. Diets of muskellunge in northern Wisconsin lakes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 19:258-270.

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Diets and Feeding Habits

The muskellunge Esox masquinongy is an important sport fish in Wisconsin and elsewhere, but more information about its diet is needed to better understand its role in aquatic systems and its effects on other fish. Stomach contents were examined for 1,092 muskellunge (226–1,180 mm total length, TL) captured in the littoral zone from 34 Wisconsin water bodies from July 1991 to October 1994. Food occurred in 34.3% (N 5 375) of the stomachs, with most (74%) containing a single item. Overall, the proportion of muskellunge with food differed significantly among seasons, with the greatest proportion occurring in fall (69.0%), followed by summer (53.5%) and then spring (25.4%). Prey items consisted of 547 fish, representing 12 families and 31 species, along with 35 nonfish items; fish composed 98% of the diet. Relative importance values of diet items varied by taxa, season, and water body, but the main food items eaten by muskellunge in each season were yellow perch Perca flavescens and white sucker Catostomous commersoni. Black basses Micropterus spp., northern pike Esox lucius, walleye Stizostedion vitreum, cyprinids, and other taxa were less common in the diet. Prey fish ranged in size from 6% to 47% of muskellunge total length and prey length increased significantly as muskellunge size increased. Yet the size of prey in proportion to muskellunge size remained the same for all sizes of muskellunge. The results of this study indicate that, if readily available, yellow perch and catostomids will compose a large proportion of the muskellunge diet. Additional studies assessing muskellunge diet among lakes having different prey community types and assessing diet in deeper offshore areas of lakes are needed to better understand the role that muskellunge play in aquatic communities.

diets-and-feeding-habits

Kerr, S. J. 2016. Feeding habits and diet of the muskellunge (Esox masquinongy): A review of predatory impacts on resident biota. Report prepared for Muskies Canada Inc. and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario.

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Diets and Feeding Habits

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.

diets-and-feeding-habits

Curry, R. A., C. A. Doherty, T. P. Jardine and S. L. currie. 2007. Using movements and diet analysis to assess effects of introduced muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the St. John River, New Brunswick. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:49-60.

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Diets and Feeding Habits

The muskellunge was introduced in the Saint John River system from stockings in a headwater lake in the 1970s. They have migrated down the system as far as the river’s first dam, Mactaquac Hydroelectric Facility, at Fredericton and appear to have established several reproducing populations along the river. This exotic invader represents a potential threat to the severely depleted Atlantic salmon stocks in the river. We radio-tracked muskellunge over a 2- year period in the middle reaches. Home ranges extended to ~100 km in both riverine and lacustrine areas, including 78% of individuals translocated upstream of the dam making their way back through the dam successfully. Downstream of the dam, home ranges were <25 km. No spawning areas were detected. An isotope analyses of diet indicated that the large sub-adults and adults had established the greatest proportion of their biomass in a more 15N depleted environment typical of areas farther upstream. Isotope mixing models could not accurately determine the proportion of Atlantic salmon smolts that may have been consumed by muskellunge, but anadromous salmon had £7% probabilities of being in the diet. A bioenergetics model suggested £5% of the annual food intake by muskellunge occurs during the smolt out-migration period. For the Saint John River, the impacts of growing numbers of muskellunge are multi-faceted creating a complex management challenge. Muskellunge appear to minimally increase predation risk for Atlantic salmon smolts while their increasing numbers are creating a growing recreational fishery and potential threat to the native fish community and ecosystem.

diets-and-feeding-habits

Schachte, J. H., Jr. 1979. Iodophore disinfections of muskellunge eggs under intensive culture in hatcheries. Progressive Fish Culturist 41:189-190.

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Culture

The iodophor Povidone-Iodine (1% active I2) was used at three concentrations, 100, 28, and 13 mg/L (1:100,1:350, and 1:750) for 10 min, in an attempt to disinfect fertilized eggs of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) and to test the efficacy and toxicity of the compound on the eggs of cool-water species. No treatment effect was observed between treatments and controls or among treatments. However, no toxic effects of the iodophor were found at the concentrations of active I2 considered efficacious for salmonids.

culture

Meerbeck, J. R. and M. J. Weber. 2019. Effects if hatchery broodstock collection on adult muskellunge populations. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 39:807-816.

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Culture

Stocking programs for Muskellunge Esox masquinongy throughout North America rely on the collection of wild adult Muskellunge to acquire gametes for hatchery propagation. The process of collecting, transporting, confining, handling, and spawning broodstock Muskellunge may cause mortality that could alter Muskellunge density, size structure, and population survival rates. We used long‐term Muskellunge capture–recapture data collected from the Iowa Great Lakes and Clear Lake in northern Iowa to estimate the number and proportion of Muskellunge captured annually and the initial mortality rates resulting from broodstock collection. We also evaluated whether Muskellunge apparent survival rates differed between individuals used as broodstock and those that were not captured annually. Finally, we evaluated whether the number of initial mortalities or the number of individuals captured were related to annual population survival estimates. Collectively, 7,010 adult Muskellunge (3,896 males and 3,114 females) captures occurred between 2001 and 2017, and population densities within a system ranged from 0.11 to 0.39 fish/ha. An average of 33% (range = 13–76%) of the population was captured during broodstock operations annually. Between 0 and 28 (0.0000 to 0.0191 fish/ha) Muskellunge died at each hatchery annually, and more males died than females (total of 150 males and 68 females; 3.9% and 2.2% of captured fish, respectively). However, annual mortalities were generally a low proportion of Muskellunge in the lake (<2%; <0.001 fish/ha). There was some evidence of size‐selective mortality, particularly for males, where larger individuals (875–975 mm) were more likely to die, but we found no evidence to suggest that broodstock collection affected annual population survival estimates. Muskellunge broodstock mortality appears to act in a compensatory manner with natural mortality, and other sources of population mortality are more likely to have a greater effect on the population.

culture

McKeown, P. E., J. L. Forney and S. R. Mooradian. 1999. Effects of stocking size and rearing method on muskellunge survival in Chaaautauqua Lake, New York. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 191:249-257.

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Culture

We examined the effects of rearing method and size at stocking on the survival of muskellunge Esox masquinongy in Chautauqua Lake, New York. Since 1961, changes in rearing methods have coincided with declining abundance of adult muskellunge. In particular, a change from pond rearing to trough rearing coincided with declining catches of adult muskellunge in pound nets. The decline was only partly reversed by changes from trough rearing to pond finishing of fingerlings. Changes in survival to age 5 from 1961 to 1996 indicated that both rearing method and stocking length significantly affected survival. Greater length at stocking resulted in higher survival rates. After accounting for length at stocking, survival was highest for pond‐reared fingerlings, intermediate for pond‐finished fingerlings, and lowest for trough‐reared fingerlings. A modified Ricker stock–recruitment model indicated that survival of fingerlings declined over time. Increases in the adult stock of walleye Stizostedion vitrium since the 1960s may have increased predatory pressure on fingerlings and increased the importance of greater length at stocking.

culture

Lemm, C. A. and D. V. Rotters. 1986. Growth of tiger muskellunge reared at three temperatures and fed different amounts of protein. Progressive Fish Culturist 48:101-106.

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Culture

Growth rates of tiger muskellunge (muskellunge Esox masquinongy ♀ x northern pike E. lucius ♂) fed diets containing 35, 45, or 55% crude protein for 5 weeks at 17, 20, or 23°C were compared. Fish fed diets containing 45 or 55% protein grew faster at all temperatures than those fed 35% protein. Growth of tiger muskellunge fed a diet containing either 45 or 55% protein did not increase significantly at optimum growth temperatures (20 or 23°C). At 17°C, below the optimum temperature range, growth did increase when the percentage of protein in the diet was increased.

culture

Dombek, M. P. 1987. Artificial turf incubators for raising muskellunge to swim-up fry. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 7:425-428.

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Culture

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) eggs were incubated in artificial turf incubators in five lakes in Michigan and Wisconsin in 1985. Mean survival of swim‐up fry from green eggs was 12% and from eyed eggs was 39%. This technique provides the manager with an economical and rapid method for raising muskellunge in lakes with inadequate spawning habitat.

culture

Colesante, R. T. and J. Bubnack. 1992. Fingerlings muskellunge production in an intensive-extensive culture system in New York State. Progressive Fish Culturist 54:243-246.

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Culture

Declining stocks of adult muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in Chautauqua Lake prompted changes in the production procedures employed at the Chautauqua State Fish Hatchery, Mayville, New York. The system now in use involves intensive trough rearing of muskellunge for approximately 1–1.5 months, followed by extensive pond rearing for up to 2 months. There was no significant difference in growth rate between muskellunge reared intensively on minnows and those reared on formulated diets; mean growth rates were 0.054 and 0.048 in/d, respectively. There was no significant difference in growth rate of muskellunge reared extensively whether they previously had been fed formulated diet or minnows in troughs; average growth rates were 0.086 and 0.084 in/d. Food conversion (food weight fed/fish weight gained) and percent survival of fingerlings transferred to ponds were significantly lower among fish previously fed formulated feeds (3.02 and 68.4%) than among fish previously fed minnows (3.74 and 81.2%).

culture

Pelletier, C., K. C. Hanson and S. J. Cooke. 2007. Do catch-and-release guidelines from state and provincial agencies in North America conform to scientifically based best practices. Environmental Management 39:760-773.

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Catch and Release

Many recreational anglers practice catch-and-release angling, where fish are returned to the water with the presumption that they will survive. However, not all fish survive, and those that do often experience sublethal consequences including injury and stress. There is compelling scientific evidence that angler behavior and gear choice can affect the success of catch-and-release as a management and conservation strategy. Because anglers often look to government natural resource agencies for guidance on how to handle and release fish properly, there is a need to assess whether their outreach materials are readily accessible and provide the necessary and correct information on the subject. Therefore, on-line catch-and-release guidelines developed by state and provincial natural resource agencies across North America were evaluated to determine whether their guidelines were consistent with the best available scientific information. This analysis revealed that there was immense variation in the depth and breadth of coverage among jurisdictions. Agency guidelines contradicted one another in several areas including air exposure, angling in deep water, venting trapped gases, and resuscitation. In many cases, the guidelines failed to provide sufficient direction to actually be of use to anglers or provide direction consistent with contemporary scientific literature. This analysis will assist with developing outreach materials that promote sustainable recreational fisheries and in maintaining the welfare status of individual fish.

catch-and-release

Landsman, S. J., H. J. Wachelka, C. D. Suski and S. J. Cooke. 2011. Evaluation of the physiology, behavior and survival of adult muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) captured and released by specialized anglers. Fisheries Research 11:377-386.

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Catch and Release

Angling for muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) is a specialized endeavor involving species-specific equipment and handling procedures. The latter were developed by anglers with little influence from fisheries managers or the scientific community. Today, release rates approach 100% for specialized anglers; therefore, a formal evaluation of these procedures was warranted. Using two handling treatments – one to mimic current handling procedures with a period of air exposure and another gentler alternative without a period of air exposure – we assessed the physiological and behavioural disturbances as well as mortality associated with the catch-and-release process. Seventy-seven muskellunge were angled and blood sampled during the 2009 and 2010 muskellunge angling seasons. An additional 18 muskellunge were electrofished and immediately blood sampled to obtain baseline physiology data. A subsample (N = 30, 15 per treatment) of the 77 angled individuals was fitted with external radio transmitters to assess behaviour and survival. Glucose and lactate concentrations were found to be significantly lower for controls, and glucose and potassium concentrations increased significantly with increasing surface water temperatures. No differences in physiology were noted between angling treatments. Muskellunge treated with normal and alternative handling procedures exhibited similar post-release behaviour, and no angling related mortalities were observed across a range of water temperatures (17.5–26.0 °C) This study demonstrates the effectiveness of current handling procedures at minimizing physiological and behavioural disturbances, particularly when compared with a gentler alternative. A fishery in which no angling mortality exists is not possible, but our study provides support for the notion that angling related mortality for muskellunge captured and released by specialized anglers using handling procedures evaluated in this study may indeed be negligible.

catch-and-release

Cooke, S. J. and H. L. Schramm. 2007. Catch-and-release science and its application to conservation and management of recreational fisheries. Fisheries Management and Ecology 14:73-79.

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Catch and Release

Catch‐and‐release angling is a well‐established practice in recreational angler behaviour and fisheries management. Accompanying this is a growing body of catch‐and‐release research that can be applied to reduce injury, mortality and sublethal alterations in behaviour and physiology. Here, the status of catch‐and‐release research from a symposium on the topic is summarised. Several general themes emerged including the need to: (1) better connect sublethal assessments to population‐level processes; (2) enhance understanding of the variation in fish, fishing practices and gear and their role in catch and release; (3) better understand animal welfare issues related to catch and release; (4) increase the exchange of information on fishing‐induced stress, injury and mortality between the recreational and commercial fishing sectors; and (5) improve procedures for measuring and understanding the effect of catch‐and‐release angling. Through design of better catch‐and‐release studies, strategies could be developed to further minimise stress, injury and mortality arising from catch‐and‐release angling. These strategies, when integrated with other fish population and fishery characteristics, can be used by anglers and managers to sustain or enhance recreational fishing resources.

catch-and-release

Casselman, S. J. 2005. Catch-and-release angling: A review with guidelines for proper fish handling practices. Fish & Wildlife Branch. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 26 p

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Catch and Release

The use of catch-and-release practices by anglers is increasing. This increase is a result of both anglers viewing the process as a conservation technique and also because catch-and-release practices are being mandated by fisheries managers. Despite the widespread use of catch-and-release, there is generally a lack of understanding regarding the mortality caused by the practice and how variation in catch-and-release techniques may affect the level of mortality. Fortunately, the increase in catch-and-release practice by anglers has coincided with an increase in research examining catch-and-release practices. While most of the studies to date have been species specific, there are general recommendations that can be made based on the available information. While catch-and-release is physiologically stressful, stress and therefore mortality can be minimized by following some general catch-and-release guidelines. Gear should be appropriate for the species being angled, allowing for quick retrieval. The use of barbless hooks and circle hooks should be considered to reduce the amount of time required to release fish. Air exposure should be minimized and fish should be released quickly. Depth of capture, hooking location and bleeding should be taken into account when deciding on whether or not to release a fish. When performed correctly, catch-and-release can be successful with minimal harm to the fish and should be encouraged. However, due to the variation among species in response to catch-and-release techniques, it is recommended that further research is needed to create species-specific guidelines.

catch-and-release

Beggs, G. L., G. F. Holeton and E. J. Crossman. 1981. Some physiological consequences of angling stress in muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). Journal of Fish Biology 17:649-659.

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Catch and Release

Capture of muskellunge by angling resulted in a reduction of blood pH, elevated lactic acid concentrations, and a drop in total carbon dioxide and bicarbonate concentrations. The acidaemia was most severe immediately after capture and began to decline well before the blood lactate levels rose. Blood lactate levels were not as high as those characterizing fatigue in most other species. Recovery from the acidosis required 12 to 18 h and was accompanied by declines of 22% and 40% in haemoglobin and haematocrit levels respectively. With the exception of dying fish, there were only slight fluctuations in plasma sodium and potassium levels during recovery, indicating that there was no severe ionoregulatory dysfunction.

Thirty per cent of all angled muskellunge died. The last stages immediately preceding death were characterized by declining blood pH and elevated potassium levels.

catch-and-release

Bimber, D. L. and S. A. Nicholson. 1981. Fluctuations in the muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) population of Chautauqua Lake, New York. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 6:207-211

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Case Histories

Population and exploitation estimates were made from angler recaptures of Chautauqua Lake muskellunge,Esox masquinongy Mitchill. Fish were tagged during Conservation Department studies in 1941–1946, 1961–1965 and 1976–1978. Population estimates of adult fish ranged from one to seven fish per hectare and angler exploitation rates of tagged fish fluctuated from 3.8% to 14.1%. Relative catch indicators suggest a major decline in the lake’s muskellunge population during the last decade. Overexploitation, habitat alteration and interspecific competition with recently introduced fish species were cited as probable causes of the decline.

case-histories

Kapuscinski, K. L., J. M. Farrell and M. A. Wilkinson. 2014. Trends in the muskellunge population and fishery characteristics in Buffalo Harbour and the Niagara River. Journal of Great Lakes Research 40:125-134.

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Case Histories

We review the history of muskellunge management and describe population and fishery responses to management actions. Stocking of muskellunge in the Niagara River occurred sporadically from 1941 to 1974 when angler harvest was common. Since the late 1970s, managers have enacted increasingly restrictive minimum length limits and anglers adopted a catch-and-release ethic. Despite these efforts, angler catches declined sharply after 1991 in Buffalo Harbor and 1984 in the upper Niagara River; catch rates rebounded after 2006 in the Niagara River, but remain near all-time lows in Buffalo Harbor. In addition, mean catch rates of young-of-the-year (YOY) in fall electrofishing surveys declined from 3.3/h in 1992–1993 to 1.7/h in 2006–2009 in Buffalo Harbor and 11.0/h in 1992–1994 to 5.4/h in 2006–2009 in the Niagara River. Several ecosystem changes occurred that likely contributed to reductions in muskellunge populations, but comprehensive monitoring programs were not in place to quantify these effects. Recent seining surveys show YOY muskellunge production during 2007–2011 was highly variable among index sites (within years) and years, but catch per unit effort was 5.3 times higher at Niagara River sites than Buffalo Harbor sites; catch per unit effort of all fishes was 9.5 times higher in the upper Niagara River than Buffalo Harbor. Both areas are in need of habitat restoration, but habitats in Buffalo Harbor appear especially poor for nearshore fishes. Uncertainty about which factors led to declines in angler catches of muskellunge and YOY production demonstrates the need for a comprehensive monitoring program and formal muskellunge management plan.

case-histories

Kerr, S. J. 2010. Muskellunge of the Ottawa River. Fisheries Policy Section. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Peterborough, Ontario. 21 p. + appendices

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Case Histories

The Ottawa River supports a world class muskellunge fishery and muskellunge has been identified as a feature species to be hightlighted in the development of a fisheries management plan for the Ontario portion of the Ottawa River. This report was prepared as a background document for the new Fisheries Management Zone 12 Advisory Council.

case-histories

Harrison, E. J. and W. F. Hadley. 1979. Biology of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in the upper Niagara River. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 108:444-451.

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Case Histories

Several life-history features of Niagara River muskellunge were determined and compared to similar data for other populations. Sexual maturity occurred during the fourth and fifth year for most Niagara River males and females, respectively. In terms of ages at sexual maturity and length-weight relationship, Niagara River muskellunge were similar to lake populations. In early life, fish of the Niagara River, and those of West Virginia and Kentucky streams, grew more rapidly than fish from lake populations. However, growth of river and stream fish slowed more quickly with age than that of lake fish. These differences in growth pattern between lentic and lotic populations may have resulted from differences in prey sizes and availability.

case-histories

Kerr, S. J., A. Kirkpatrick and T. Haxton. 2011. Characteristics of trophy-sized muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) angled from Ontario waters, 1917-2010. Fisheries Policy Section. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Peterborough, Ontario. 11 p. +appendices.

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Age and Growth, Recreational Fisheries

An effort was made to compile a listing of trophy-sized muskellunge which have been angled from Ontario waters. A trophy-sized muskellunge in this study was defined as a fish exceeding 114 cm (45 inches) in length or 10.0 kg (22 pounds) in weight. Information was obtained for a total of 9,708 muskellunge which were angled in Ontario between 1917 and 2010. The majority of records originated from volunteer angler diaries maintained by members of Muskies Inc. and Muskies Canada Inc. Most trophy-sized muskellunge were angled early in the season and numbers decreased as the season progressed. The geographic distribution of trophy-sized muskellunge was spread well over their Ontario range. There was a significant positive trend in the maximum size of muskellunge reported annually. There was also a significant increase in the maximum size of muskellunge reported after the changes to minimum size limit regulations in 2001. An increase in the catch-and-release angling ethic in conjunction with the implementation of new minimum size limit regulations is believed to be responsible for the increased number of trophy-sized muskellunge being angled in Ontario. Based on the number of Ontario waters producing trophy-sized muskellunge and the increasing number of trophy-sized fish being reported annually, Ontario’s muskellunge management strategy appears to be achieving the objective of  providing a diversity of trophy angling opportunities.

age-and-growth recreational-fisheries

Crossman, E. J. 1956. Growth, mortality and movements in a sanctuary population of maskinonge (Esox masquinongy). Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 13:599-612

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Age and Growth

A Schumacher population estimated based on 995 maskinonge taken by trap nets, between the months of May and October in the years 1951-1953, set the number of maskinonge in Nogies Creek at between 769 and 1,122 in July, 1953. The mean standard length of these fish was 53.0 cm.  The rate of growth (26.3 cm S.L. in the first year)compared favourably with that for maskinonge in other waters.  Fish of age groups II, III and IV predominated.  The small number of fish over four years of age was apparently due to a 70% annual mortality rate at least after the third year of life and perhaps before age III. Recaptures of tagged maskinonge demonstrated that there was little movement of maskinonge in summer and what movement there was mainly upstream. In the fall there was far more movement of fish and this was mainly in a downstream direction.  The area supports a fairly large population of maskinonge but the high mortality after three years of age limits its value for raising maskinonge to legal size.

age-and-growth

Casselman, J. M., C. J. Robinson and E. J. Crossman. 1999. Growth and ultimate length of muskellunge from Ontario waterbodies. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 19:271-290.

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Age and Growth

Growth of muskellunge Esox masquinongy from 12 Ontario sources was investigated by examining 582 samples from the Cleithrum Project archive and other specific studies; 88% of the samples were from angler‐caught “trophy” fish. We detail sampling problems and develop methods for resolving them. Muskellunge from some sources were unsexed; sex was discriminated (probability of correct classification, 98.3%) from the von Bertalanffy growth parameters ultimate length (L∞) and growth coefficient, K. When one sex was inadequately sampled, the von Bertalanffy growth parameters of one sex were used to estimate those of the other. When samples were small and inadequate (<11), we used concordance sum of squares to match growth and give an interim estimate from the adequately sampled source with the best growth match. In Ontario populations, mean ultimate total lengths range widely: from 81.4 to 140.0 cm for females and from 70.7 to 115.9 cm for males. Females can be grouped into three types of growth, producing either large‐, medium‐, or small‐bodied fish (ranging from 140 to 127 cm, 126 to 114 cm, and 113 to 102 cm and smaller, respectively). We describe and categorize growth and growth potential to establish standards for detecting change in exploitation and for reviewing minimum size limits (currently underway) based on growth biology to help sustain and even increase the size of muskellunge populations while producing high‐quality trophy fisheries.

age-and-growth

Casselman, J. M. 2007. Determining minimum ultimate size, setting size limits and developing trophy standards and indices of comparable size for maintaining quality muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) populations and sport fisheries. Environmental Biology of Fishes 79(1-2):137-154.

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Age and Growth

Growth and ultimate size can provide important population insights and a sound biological basis for setting length limits, which can be the best single regulation for preventing overexploitation of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) populations. A system was developed, using cleithral age and total length at age confidence limits (CL) data, to determine reproductive and growth potential (ultimate size) for calculating and setting increased size limits based on minimum reproductive size (upper 99% CL at age at first maturity + 2 year) and minimum ultimate size (MUS) calculated from the lower 99% CL—minimum ultimate size limit (MUSL). MUS also provides a trophy standard and an index of relative size for comparing trophy potential of individuals within and among populations. Guidelines are provided for determining minimum sample size (mean ± 95% confidence interval = 12 ± 4) and minimum age (8–10 ± 2.0 year) required to produce valid von Bertalanffy growth trajectories. MUS, MUSL, and trophy standards for both length and estimated weight are provided for female and male muskellunge from 14 Ontario sources. Mean MUS, or trophy standard, for females was 115 ± 10.3 cm (MUSL range 75–135) and 11.1 ± 2.6 kg (2.5–17.5) and for males was 95 ± 7.5 cm (66–110) and 6.1 ± 1.3 kg (1.9–9.2). These indices can precisely define growth and growth potential for muskellunge populations and individuals and can be used to better manage and maintain or improve the quality of muskellunge populations and fisheries

age-and-growth