(English) Conservation Lottery Results

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The final draw for the 2019 Conservation Lottery was held on May 5th at the Discover Georgina show at the Keswick Ice Palace. The reason for this location is simple, it was the Municipality of Georgina license office which granted us the lottery permits and the draw had to take place in their municipality. On hand to assist with the draw were Mr. Dan Fellini Ward 2 Councillor for Georgina, Mr. Scot Davidson MP (Conservative) for York Simcoe riding.

The winners of the early bird prizes Shimano Compre rod, Tranx 400 HG reel a300 yds. Of Power Pro were:

  • 1st early bird winner was Mark MacFarland of the Mississauga Chapter.
  • 2nd early Bird winner was Angelo Didomizio of the Kawartha Chapter.

Winner of the 15 HP Mercury ProKicker motor was a gentleman from St. Catherines, Mr. Dave Robitaille.

Winner of the 1 week stay in a deluxe 3 bedroom cottage at Scotsmen Point Resort was Mr. Dave Sullivan. Dave is the owner of City Marine the supplier of the grand prize Mercury package, and he purchased several tickets for the lottery.

Winner of the Lakewoods Monster Musky tackle box and the family of 4 custom painted Hose baits was Paul Baltovich. Paul purchased his ticket through Russell Hendrix. I am sure Russell has already tried to talk Paul out of his winnings.

Congratulations to all the winners. We also wish to thank our sponsors who generously donated or supplied items at great savings to MCI.

Dave Sullivan of City Marine for the Mercury outboard. Scotsman Point Resort for the 3 bedroom deluxe cottage 1 week stay. Bob Mahoney and Shimano Canada for the 2 early bird packages. Stacy Ash and Pro Tackle for the Lakewoods Tackle Box. Shawn (Hoser) Maher for the unique and one of a kind custom painted family of Hose Baits.

(English) Muskies Canada’s Biggest Project

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Trapnetting in Gloucester Pool

The Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Project (LSMRP) commenced in 2004. Before it started, there were several years of feasibility studies, which determined that restocking of Lake Simcoe was viable. Muskies Canada Executive asked the Toronto Chapter to lead the project for the club. Dave Boxall headed the LSMRP Team in the early years, with Steve Bedarf, Jim Kelly and Cupcake. In 2002 and 2003, the team had limited knowledge of how to raise wild Muskie, obtained eggs from Lake Couchiching, and experimented with outdoor ponds. These efforts were largely unsuccessful, due primarily to cannibalism, with no fingerlings in the first year and 8 in the second year.

The LSMRP then started in 2004. Our two main operational partners were the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and Sir Sandford Fleming`s Lindsay hatchery (Fleming). The key people we worked with were Emily Funnell (Jason Borwick in the early years), Wil Wegman and Brent Shirley of the MNRF`s Aurora and Midhurst districts and Mark Newell of Fleming. The Muskies Canada team the past decade has been lead by Ian Young, Jim Kelly, Dave Boxall and Andy Pappas, with many volunteers assisting every year with both the collection of eggs in the spring in Gloucester Pool and the putting of fall fingerlings into the Lake in late October and early November. A lot of expertise regarding the raising of wild Muskies has been developed by all of these involved parties.

The original term of the Project was 10 years, with an annual target of 500 fall fingerlings and yearlings. This was later changed to 14 or 15 years, with an annual target in excess of 1,000 fingerlings and yearlings after Dr. John Casselman said he was sure we would be successful if we stocked muskies through 3 life cycles. Dr. Casselman is the world`s top living Muskie scientist. We have evidence from a similar 8 year restocking program of over 10,000 fingerlings and yearlings in the Spanish River that finished a decade ago (see article in the last issue of the RJ) which has been successful. There has been DNA proof of our stocked fingerlings surviving and many inadvertent catches and sightings of Muskie in Lake Simcoe. By the end of 2018, the LSMRP had lasted 14 years and we had stocked over 20,000 fingerlings and yearlings into Lake Simcoe.

Egg fertilization
Egg fertilization

The total cost of the LSMRP through 2018 has been over $1.5 million. Muskie Canada`s contribution has been over $250,000 ln cash plus many hours by volunteers each year in management meetings, assisting with the spring egg collections and putting of fingerlings and yearlings into the Lake in the fall. Muskie Canada`s fundraising efforts have been lead by Jim, Dave and Ian. Our main financial supporters have been the Becker Foundation (see separate article), the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (Zones E, G, H and J), Orillia Fish and Game, and Muskies Canada (National and the Kawartha Lakes, Hamilton, Barrie and Toronto Chapters). Thanks to a lot of hard work by Peter Levick to obtain approval from Georgina Township for Muskies to run a provincial lottery in 2016 and a lot of additional work by Tom McCutcheon to run the lottery since then, significant funds have been raised to help fund the LSMRP each year. Over $5,000 has also been donated by individuals to our “Adopt-a-Muskie” program, which we are running jointly with Fleming. These funds are currently in the Muskies Canada Foundation, earmarked for the LSMRP.

Emily Funnell, Resources Management Supervisor of the MNRF`s Aurora District and a Muskie fingerling ready for release

The LSMRP brings a lot of positive publicity each year to Muskies Canada and Muskie conservation. There have been many magazine and newspaper articles and film clips and interviews on television. The LSMRP was the first winner of the best fisheries conservation project in Canada when that annual award was started in 2010. There have also been presentations on the LSMRP at the two world Muskellunge symposiums in Ottawa and Minnetonka, Minnesota in 2014 and 2016. A scientific paper on the LSMRP, was published by the American Fisheries Society in 2017 in its book titled « Muskellunge Management ». A major reason why we have such a strong relationship with the Spring Fishing and Boat Show, and Andy and Vita Pallotta, has been the LSMRP. We developed Muskie Sunday, one of our two major annual fundraising efforts with the Odyssey, out of Andy`s desire to help us raise funds for the LSMRP and Muskie conservation.

There have been many benefits for Muskies Canada in addition to the satisfaction of helping to restore muskellunge to their historical waters in Lake Simcoe. Muskies Canada, the MNRF and Fleming are now likely the most knowledgeable raisers of wild muskellunge in the world We have developed tremendous partnerships and personal friendships with the MNRF, Fleming, OFAH, the Becker Foundation and Muskies Inc., Orillia Fish and Game, and many other partners. This project has been a significant help in raising Muskie Canada`s profile in the fishing and conservation worlds.

At the end of 2018 we had exceeded our expectations regarding the number of Muskie fingerlings and yearlings stocked into the Lake. The MNRF and Muskies Canada have jointly decided that 2019 is a good time to stop egg collections, rearing and stocking of muskies for the LSMRP. Thus, as Emily Funnell, Resources Management Supervisor of the MNRF`s Aurora District announced in a press release in December 2018, “We will not be undertaking egg collections, rearing and stocking in 2019. We will continue to engage with our partners and fisheries experts as we move into long term effectiveness monitoring.”

A special thank you to all of our partners and volunteers for their contributions to date. We look forward to continuing to work together in the future on the long-term monitoring program.

(English) The Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Project

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Young muskie during stocking at Orillia and Cook’s Bay
Young muskie during stocking at Orillia and Cook’s Bay

By Ian Young, Jim Kelly, and Dave Boxall

2018 marked the 14th year of the Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Program (LSMRP). The epitome of a true partnership, the LSMRP involves Muskies Canada, Orillia Fish and Game, Fleming College, the Becker Foundation, OFAH, Toronto Spring Fishing and Boat Show and MNRF’s Aurora and Midhurst Districts. This program aims to restore a self-sustaining Muskie population that is not reliant on stocking back into Lake Simcoe. Once plentiful in the lake, it is believed that by the 1930’s the species was almost extirpated due to a variety of reasons, including a prior commercial fishery, decreased spawning habitat quality increasing Pike numbers and a lack of catch and release ethic by anglers.

A Feasibility study conducted prior to the program’s start in 2005, determined that restoring Muskie was feasible, but likely wouldn’t be successful if the original or Kawartha strain Muskie was used to help restock the lake. Kawartha’s Muskie have proven to have little tolerance for, nor an ability to co-exist with Northern Pike whereas their cousins to the north in Georgian Bay, have long been able to co-exist. Therefore, all partners agreed that Georgian Bay strain Muskie would be used.

Since 2005, crews trap netted Muskie every spring in either Georgian Bay or nearby Gloucester Pool (considered same strain) hoping to collect as many as three families each year. But like all good things … it wasn’t easy! “If Muskie are known as the fish of 10,000 casts amongst us anglers, then they are quietly recognized as the fish of a thousand net sets for fisheries techs and biologists,” revealed long time Muskies Canada member, trap netting volunteer and LSMRP organizer Jim Kelly. “Some years we would capture several ripe male and female muskies and collect our full three families in less than two weeks while other years MNRF staff would have their nets out and check for 4 or 5 weeks and barely scrape out enough ripe Muskie for one family,” he added. Whatever the case however one thing was certain … that once the fertilized eggs were transferred over to Mark Newell – “The Muskie Whisperer” and Hatchery Manager at Sir Sandford Fleming College in Lindsay, he would work his magic and get the absolute most out of every single egg, fry and fingerling he was tasked with raising!

Over the years the actual number of Muskie stocked into Lake Simcoe has varied tremendously … from less than a hundred at the start to as many as 4,000 in 2015.

After more than 10 years of trapnetting Muskie in Gloucester Pool, crews from Midhurst and Aurora realized that fewer and fewer Muskie were being caught there so they decided instead in 2018 to join forces with their MNRF Upper Great Lakes Management Unit (UGLMU) cohorts to help trap net Muskie in Severn Sound of Georgian Bay. Here they trap netted for over three weeks in early May and although several Muskie were captured … not all were ripe and willing to yield the eggs and milt required. One very large family however was collected from a big female with plenty of eggs and in the end, this proved to be the saving grace for 2018. “Mark was able to work his magic once again and get the absolute optimal results from that one family … enough that by early summer he was able to transfer 450 summer fingerlings to MNRF’s Harwood Fish Culture Station,” said Dave Boxall long time Muskie Canada member LSMRP organizer. Here, just like Mark was able to do at Fleming, staff did an amazing job ensuring cannibalism was kept at a minimum and only a small handful of mortalities were the result. So … by November stocking time about 1,700 fall fingerlings from Fleming were ready to be stocked into Lake Simcoe and 400 from Harwood were prepared for Georgian Bay at Severn Sound. “The major preparation procedure is basically switching all of the Muskie over from a pellet based feed – over to minnows. This helps acclimate all those individuals to the type of food source they’ll need to chase down and capture in their new homes if they want to survive” concluded Dave.

It was agreed beforehand that a portion of the total stocking numbers in 2018 should go back into the waterbody where the parents came from. On November 15, a crew from MNRF Aurora District, the UGLMU and Harwood Fish Culture, braved icy and snowy conditions to travel out on Georgian Bay in their Jon Boat to release 397 Muskie. “As Wil Wegman, with MNRF Aurora District who’s been connected with the LSMRP mentioned on his Instagram and Facebook Page, many of those young Muskie were stocked around the exact same area of Severn Sound where their parents were captured in trap nets that very spring and where that very important egg collection was conducted,” said Ian.

Stocking Muskie back into Lake Simcoe occurred successfully as well. On November 3rd, over 35 volunteers from Orillia Fish and Game, Muskies Canada, Bayshore Village Community, Fleming College and the Aurora Bassmasters … converged on Barnstable Bay in Lake Simcoe, and released 500 healthy young fingerlings between 7-9 inches from Fleming. On November 6th, Fleming students travelled by boat to the south side of Georgina Island and released 587 Muskie between there and the mainland. The Talbot River was the final stop for Muskie stocking in 2018 and for at least a year while the stocking portion of the LSMRP takes a one-year hiatus in 2019. Those 589 fall fingerlings and four larger yearlings were stocked throughout the river in prime habitat with more shiners to feed on than they could eat in a lifetime.

Ian Young is past president of MCI and lead for the LSMRP for his organization. “So after stocking over 20,000 Muskie into Lake Simcoe since 2005, it looks like, at Press Time anyways, that LSMRP will be taking at least a year off from capturing Muskie in the spring for egg collections and from raising Muskie at the hatcheries and releasing fall fingerlings in November”. There are several reasons for this hiatus, including current spending and travel restrictions on MNRF District staff since the new government came into power here in Ontario,

“After 14 years we are nearing the end of the project and it is now timely to sit back and re-evaluate where the program should go from here. Without trap netting and stocking, in 2019 and beyond, I know MNRF staff would like to focus more on monitoring Lake Simcoe and it’s rivers to try and determine how successful the program has been and where all those stocked Muskie and their offspring can be found. So here at Muskies Canada, we are on board with that in a big way and we look forward to an ongoing partnership with the fine staff at MNRF. We have made some great working relationships and personal friendships with these dedicated Muskie enthusiasts and we know that won’t end anytime soon,” concluded Ian.

(English) Helping Habitat : Bill C-68

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I have been invited to write a regular column on conservation issues related to Muskies and their Habitat.  So my territory overlaps well with the range of Muskies in Canada.

A bit about me first, I work for Ducks Unlimited Canada as the Director of Regional Operations for Eastern Canada.  This means I oversee DUC’s conservation work east of Manitoba. So my territory overlaps well with the range of Muskies in Canada.  I have been a member of Muskies Canada for three years and am yet to catch my first Muskie.  I hope the 2018 is my year. 

I worked with Peter Levick, then president of Muskies Canada to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between Muskies and DUC in 2015.  In this MOU we committed to ongoing collaboration to expand mutual habitat conservation projects that benefit Muskellunge and Waterfowl in eastern Canada.  Given our shared focus on habitat this was the quickest MOU that I have ever developed.  You will have seen in Chris Nielson’s Presidents message, that we are seeing good examples of working together.

Implications of proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act

One of the powerful tools supporting habitat conservation at scale is Federal or Provincial legislation or policy.  These government directions can have significant impacts on habitat and uses of habitat.  The federal fisheries act is a critical act that regulates activities related to fisheries and fish habitat.  As such, it is an important tool in conservation of habitat. 

The fisheries act underwent significant modernization and change in 2012.  Some of these changes reduced the extent of fish habitats protected across Canada.  The Federal government has introduced new amendments to the act (Bill C-68) that will have a significant impact on fish and fish habitat.  Some highlights include:

Before Proposed Amendments

After Proposed Amendments

Not all fish and fish habitat protected; only those related to a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery protected

Protection of all fish and fish habitat

Uncertainty as to when authorizations are required for development projects

 

Clarity on which types of projects require authorizations through permitting and codes of practice

 

Lack of transparency regarding authorization decisions for projects; no requirement to publicly release information on these decisions

 

Requirement to publicly release information on project decisions through an online registry

No provisions to restore degraded habitat as part of development project reviews

 

Provisions to consider restoration priorities as part of development project reviews

 

No tools to quickly implement in-season fisheries restrictions to address unforeseen conservation and management issues

 

Ability to put in place targeted short-term measures to quickly and effectively respond to unforeseen threats to the management of fisheries and to the conservation of fish

 

 These proposed amendments are important to Muskies Canada for several reasons.  First, the changes strengthen the protection of habitat for muskellunge throughout their lives.  In addition, the proposed amendments will make is easier to know and understand if future development projects are going to impact muskellunge habitat and how developer will compensate for these impacts.  The amendments are more explicit on compensation for destruction of fish habitat.  Muskies Canada has the opportunity to guide compensation for loss of muskellunge habitat.

The act is currently moving thru the parliamentary process and the government is considering the proposed amendments.   MP and Federal Ministers respond to comments from members of grass roots organizations like Muskies Canada.

So it is time to Take Action.

You can have a positive influence on getting Bill C-68 adopted by sending a letter, email or talking to your MP and/or Dominic LeBlanc the Federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.  The message is simple you support the positive changes to increase the protection of fish habitat being proposed in Bill C-68.

Here is the complete Bill-C68 submission.

(English) Ducks Unlimited Launches New Invasive Species Resource

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Our partner  Ducks Unlimited Canada just released a great new resource for learning about invasive species that threaten many of our favourite musky waters. to learn more, make sure to check out the link!

http://www.ducks.ca/invasive-species/

Invasive species are changing the land and water we love. They overwhelm habitat, choking out natural wildlife and vegetation. They spread aggressively and hold their ground stubbornly. Winning the fight against an invasive species takes science, engineering and people committed to on-the-ground hard work.

(English) Shimano offers support to Muskellunge fishing on Lake St. Clair

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PETERBOROUGH, Ontario – Canada – For Immediate Release – 2-26-18 — It’s a good day for muskie anglers when natural resource managers from Ontario, Michigan and Ohio all come together to make the fishery better. Combine that with the involvement of volunteers from both Muskies Canada and Muskies, Inc., and now financial support from Shimano’s Canada operations, and targeting these big fish on Lake St. Clair has a positive outlook.

To assist with muskie research efforts on Lake St. Clair, Shimano donated $1,000 to help buy more acoustic radio tags. During ‘Muskie Sunday’ events at the just completed Spring Fishing & Boating Show in Mississauga, Ont., Bob Mahoney (center left) presents the check to Bruce Bauer (far left) with Muskies Canada – Belle River Chapter, Muskies Canada vice president Kurt Milligan (center right), and Jim Herod (far right), education director for Muskies Canada.

During ‘Muskie Sunday’ events at the just completed Spring Fishing & Boat Show, Canada’s largest outdoor show at The International Center in Mississauga, Ont., Shimano added to the day with a $1,000 donation to support the Lake St. Clair muskellunge tracking project. “We wanted to step up after seeing how the DNR fishery experts in both Michigan and Ohio, and our Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have teamed up on this project,” said Bob Mahoney with Shimano’s Canada operations. “And we applaud the joint efforts of the Muskies Canada and Muskies, Inc. organizations for their assistance”.
The donation will go to the purchase of additional acoustic radio tags that are implanted in caught-and-released muskies out of Lake St. Clair. The project provides the ability for donors to name a tagged muskie, and follow its travels at any time – similar to shark tagging programs. More than 50 muskies currently swim in Lake St. Clair, where their movements are tracked by using underwater receivers of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System.

Muskies Canada s’associe à Wounded Warriors Canada

Muskies Canada est fier d’annoncer un nouveau partenariat avec Wounded Warriors Canada pour organiser une fin de semaine de pêche au Scotsman Point Cottage Resort, sur le lac Buckhorn.

La pêche dans les Kawarthas permettra aux vétérans malades et blessés et à leurs familles de profiter du plein air tout en pêchant le maskinongé en compagnie de pêcheurs expérimentés de Muskies Canada. De plus, l’événement offrira un environnement relaxant qui permettra aux participants d’avoir du répit, de réfléchir et de se reconnecter avec leurs collègues vétérans et les membres de leur famille.

woundedWarriorsWounded Warriors Canada est un organisme de bienfaisance enregistré dont la mission est d’honorer et de soutenir les membres des Forces armées canadiennes, les vétérans, les premiers répondants et leurs familles malades et blessés au Canada.

 

cropped-muskies_canada_logo.pngMuskies Canada est un organisme national sans but lucratif voué à la pêche à la ligne, à la recherche et à la conservation du maskinongé. Le maskinongé, ou maskinongé, est le principal prédateur d’eau douce au Canada et un important poisson de sport dans l’est du Canada. Les pêcheurs de Muskies Canada ont des bateaux et de l’équipement bien adaptés pour accueillir Wounded Warriors pour une excellente fin de semaine sur l’eau.

“C’est avec une grande fierté que Muskies Canada a conclu un partenariat avec Wounded Warriors Canada pour passer du temps sur l’eau avec des anciens combattants qui ont tant donné à leur pays. Ce sera non seulement un honneur de passer du temps avec ces anciens combattants, mais de leur montrer que Muskies Canada reconnaît et est reconnaissant de leurs sacrifices”, a déclaré Tyler Duncan, représentant du conseil d’administration de Muskies Canada et président de la section Upper Valley.

Le weekend Wounded Warriors Canada Fishing in the Kawarthas weekend aura lieu à Scotsman Point Resort sur le lac Buckhorn, du 25 au 28 août 2017. Vendredi soir, un rassemblement de «Meet-and-Greet» et le samedi sera une journée de pêche au Muskie où les participants seront jumellés avec des membres de Muskies Canada.

Phil Ralph, directeur des programmes nationaux pour Wounded Warriors Canada, a commenté: “Nous continuons d’être les témoins directs des avantages des programmes récréatifs qui réunissent les vétérans et leurs familles. Nous sommes fiers de nous associer à Muskies Canada et à Scotsman Point Resort pour ce qui sera un grand événement annuel offrant à nos participants un répit important et l’occasion de réfléchir et de se reconnecter.”

Scotsman Point Cottage Resort est un commanditaire / supporter de l’événement et fait don d’un logement pour les participants de Wounded Warriors Canada. “À Scotsman Point Resort, nous sommes tous très fiers et honorés de pouvoir offrir aux citoyens canadiens les plus courageux une détente et un plaisir bien mérités. Nous sommes impatients de poursuivre notre relation avec tous les partenaires impliqués dans cet événement mémorable”, a déclaré Leslie Clarkson, directrice générale de Scotsman Point Resort.

Pour plus d’informations, consultez:

Wounded Warriors

Muskies Canada

Scotsman Point Resort