Walleye and muskellunge movement in the Manitowish chain of lakes, Vilas County, Wisconsin

We quantified within‐year and between‐year movement of walleyes (Sander vitreus) and muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in the Manitowish Chain of 10 interconnected lakes in Vilas County, Wisconsin. Beginning in May 2004, we marked 7,427 walleyes (55–2,720 fish/lake) and 491 muskellunge (24–99 fish/lake) with T‐bar anchor tags and marked 33 walleyes and 36 muskellunge with radio tags. Tags were recaptured and recovered through October 2005 via fyke‐netting, electrofishing, angling, and spearing. Anchor tag loss averaged 2.9% for walleyes and 2.1% for muskellunge. Of 1,752 anchor‐tagged walleyes (19–555 fish/lake), 81% (54–90% per lake) were recovered in the same lake in which they were tagged. Of the 95 muskellunge tagged (1–18 fish/lake), 53% (0–100% per lake) were recovered in the same lake in which they were tagged. For radio‐tagged fish, 82% (27 of 33 fish) of walleyes and 50% (18 of 36 fish) of muskellunge were recovered in the same lake in which they were tagged. Of 1,153 anchor tag returns for walleyes (8–326 fish/tag group and 6–340 fish/lake) and 57 anchor‐tag returns for muskellunge (1–17 fish/tag group and 1–12 fish/lake), 76% of walleyes (37–98% per lake) and 45% of muskellunge (0–100% per lake) were found in the same lake in spring 2004 and spring 2005. Our results indicate that most walleyes remained in the same lake during the year of tagging and between years, whereas half of all muskellunge did not remain in the same lake during the tagging year or between years. We recommend that walleye angling and spearing fisheries be managed for individual lakes and that muskellunge fisheries be managed for the entire chain of lakes.

Seasonal movements of muskellunge in Lake Scugog, Ontario

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) in Lake Scugog were implanted with radio transmitters in 1987 and 1988 to track movements over 14 months to help determine if the management regulations in pace were adequate to protect the muskellunge entering a spawning area via culverts under a highway. Summer home ranges were established by the muskellunge and these did not appear to change in the fall. Some fish exhibited pre-spawning behavior by staging close to the spawning area in the winter. The adult muskellunge entered the marsh in early April and stayed ten days in 1987 and 25 days in 1988. No tracking evidence of fractional spawning was noted and the adults had left the marsh well before the second Saturday in May, the opening of walleye (Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) season.

Movement of muskellunge in the St. Croix River system

Proposals to install fish barriers in Minnesota’s large rivers near the Twin Cities to prevent upstream expansion of Asian carp (silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, bighead carp H. nobilis, grass carp, Ctenopharyngodon idella and black carp Mylopharyngodon piceus) prompted a study to evaluate movement or riverine fish throughout this system. A stationary acoustic receiver network was deployed in the Minnesota, Mississippi and St. Croix rivers in 2013 to determine fish passage through the lock and dam systems and study movements and habitat preferences for several native fish species. Six muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) were captured from the St. Croix River in November 2014, implanted with transmitters equipped with temperature and depth sensors (donated by Muskies Inc.) returned to the St. Croix River and tracked for two years. All muskellunge traveled at least 15 river miles. Five of the muskellunge traveled into Pool 3 of the Mississippi River for brief period (typically 1-3 days) and returned to the St. Croix River. One muskellunge left the St. Croix River, passed thorugh Lock and Dam #3 in Red Wing, Minnesota, moved into Pool 4 of the Mississippi River and returned to the St. Croix River after 30 days. Four of the muskellunge generally preferred the lower St. Coroix River (>75% of detections). All of the muskellunge had recorded depths greater than 40 feet (12,2 m) with on exceeding 70 feet (21.3 m). Although the results are preliminary our study shows that placing a barrier at the mouth of the St. Croix River could restrict muskellunge movement between the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. Therefore, any barrier constructed to prevent upstream expansion of Asian carp should be tested to ensure that it does not interfere with movement of native fishes such as muskellunge. Continued research will evaluate the importance of fish movements between the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.

Seasonal movements of muskellunge in North Bend Lake, West Virginia

North Fork Hughes River, West Virginia, is a native muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) stream and is impounded by North Bend Lake, a 12.4-km long, 123-ha impoundment that serves as an important brood source for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Muskellunge movement was monitored from 26 March 2010 through 2 January 2014 to monitor seasonal movements and to verify muskellunge migration through the outlet structure of the dam. Twenty-four fish were collected using pulsed DC boat-mounted electrofishing equipment and surgically implanted with acoustic transmitters. Six submersible data loggers were stationed throughout the lake. Data logger data were downloaded monthly throughout the study, resulting in 1,256,046 detections of implanted fish. Seasonal movement of marked fish was consistent during the four years of the study. Most fish moved throughout the entire length of the lake, and seven implanted fish left the lake through the outlet structure of the dam. Fish occupied the upper half of North Bend Lake in spring, and spent the summer and winter in the lower half of the lake. Fish occupied the lower lake in early and late fall, but exhibited a collective movement to the upper lake in October. Based on their upstream movements in early spring, muskellunge appeared to use the upper areas of the lake for spawning purposes. Knowledge of seasonal movements of muskellunge in North Bend Lake, particularly in spring, will enhance future broodstock collection efforts. Dam escapement by muskellunge may have a significant effect on fisheries in small impoundments, and should be considered in muskellunge management plans in similar systems.

Home range and seasonal movements of muskellunge as determined by radiotelemetry

Sixteen adult muskellunge were studied in a shallow 35 hectare lake (Nogies Creek) and a deeper, 3,725 hectare lake (Stony Lake) within the Kawartha Lakes region of central Ontario. All fish established summer and winter home range areas. Areas of 0.6 to 1.1 hectare in water less than n2.0 m deep were used by all Nogies Creek fish and the Stony Lake male. The Stony Lake female utilized a 7.2 hectare area in water of 12.5 m average depth. Some areas overlapped however there was never more than none fish in an overlap area at one time. All fish established and used home ranges when water temperatures were less than 5°C. Males again established home ranges when water temperatures exceeded15°C, however not all females established home ranges in temperatures of 15-28.5°C. All fish were absent from their home ranges in spring and fall at water temperatures of 8-15°C. Females travelled greater distances than males during summer water temperatures of 20-28.5°C.

Movement, activity and habitat use patterns of muskellunge in West Okoboji Lake, Iowa

Ultrasonic telemetry was used to determine habitat use and activity patterns of nine adult muskellunge in a 1540 hectare natural lake from spring 1978 to fall 1979. M About 80% of summer and early fall contacts (N=1292) occurred in three large, relatively shallow, vegetated bays. Study fish exhibited significant summertime changes in depth of water occupied, association with vete5tation and general activity. Fish activity was negatively associated with surface water temperatures; activity was greatest over the 11-17°C range. There was a positive association of fish activity with water transparency (Secchi disk depth). Significant diel behavioural variations occurred during June when there were crepuscular peaks in fish movement rates, activity and water depth use. There were no identifiable sex- or size- dependent differences in any of the studied behaviours.

The study fish appeared to adjust their basic foraging patterns to maintain an optimal feeding strategy in response to seasonally changing environmental factors. After the spawning period and through midsummer, the fish behaved as searching predators as evidenced by relatively high levels of activity, extensive movements, use of a variety of water depths and habitat types and pronounced crepuscular activity. By late summer, the fish exhibited behavioural characteristics of a sedentary ambush predator (e.g., reduced activity), strong allegiance to activity centers associated with vegetation and little diel variation in activity. These seasonal changes in muskellunge habitat use and behavior may contribute to the distinct seasonality of the fishery for this species in West Okoboji Lake, maximum catch rates occurring in late summer and early fall.

Evidence of homing of a displaced muskellunge (Esox masquinongy)

During a short-term telemetry study to determine behavior of angler-caught and released muskellunge, an individual muskellunge was caught and displaced into a separate lake in a chain of lakes. Following its release, this female fish (980 mm) traveled 10 km in three days. The fish bypassed numerous areas with suitable habitat in which muskellunge were commonly found and returned to the area from which it was originally captured.

Spawning and post-spawning movements of the St. Lawrence River muskellunge (Esox masquinongy)

Radiotelemetry tracking of adult muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) was used to locate muskellunge spawning and nursery habitats in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River and to describe post-spawning movements. From 1984 to 1989, 47 adult muskellunge were radio tagged during the spawning season at 22 sites. Radio-tagged fish were located at least once daily during the spawning period. Capture sites of adult muskellunge and areas frequented by tagged muskellunge during the spawning period were subsequently seined to document the presence or absence of young-of-the-year (YOY) muskellunge. YOY muskellunge were collected at 13 of the 22 adult capture sites and also at an additional 14 sites frequented by radio tagged adults. Post-spawning muskellunge generally either migrated upstream to Lake Ontario, remained in the vicinity of their respective spawning site or moved into deep water where they could not be located. Radio transmitters that functioned into the following season revealed a high degree of reproductive homing.

Movements of muskellunge in the Saint John River based on a volunteer tagging project, 2006-2015

We report on results of a muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) tagging project, which was conducted on the Stain John River, New Brunswick, from 2006 to 2015 (inclusive). During that period of time, 691 muskellunge were angled, tagged and released by members of the Saint John River Chapter of Muskies Canada Inc. By the end of the 2015 angling season, a total of 64 (9.3%) tagged muskellunge had been 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 were believed to occur during the spring and fall associated with spawning as well as the establishment of summer and winter ranges. Muskellunge movements that were documented in this study occurred in both upstream and downstream directions in equal proportion. Muskellunge also demonstrated the ability to move long distances both upstream and downstream including passage over/through the Mactaquac Dam. Observations of muskellunge behaviour and movements from this study are generally consistent with observations (small home ranges, males more sedentary than females, movements season in nature, capable of long distance movements, etc.) reported from similar tagging studies in other North American jurisdictions. Future efforts will be directed to obtaining additional information on recaptured fish. With additional recapture information, a more detailed analysis of muskellunge in the Stain John watershed can be completed.

Movement and behavior of the muskellunge as determined by radiotelemetry

External radio-transmitters were placed on 18 muskellunge in Moose Lake and Black Lake, Sawyer County, Wisconsin. Movements of the transmitter-tagged muskellunge were monitored for 14 months, during both the open water season and through the ice. Black Lake is predominantly a muskellunge, largemouth bass, panfish lake with an area of 52 ha, while Moose Lake is predominantly a muskellunge and walleye lake with an area of676 ha. Peak movements and activities occurred in spring and fall when water temperatures were 4-l2°C. During the summer months tagged fish occupied waters less than 2 m in depth at temperatures of 24-27°C. Greatest average swimming velocity of muskellunge observed was 50.8 m/minute. During winter months a tagged fish moved out of waters with low oxygen levels in the north bay of Black Lake to areas with a more abundant supply of oxygen. The monthly home range size of the muskellunge varied from 0.2 to 2.7 ha in Black Lake and from 2.3 to 27.7 ha in Moose Lake. Four spawning areas were identified and spawning activities were observed. Muskellunge moved onto spawning grounds when water temperatures reached 8-l0°C and remained on spawning grounds until temperatures reached about l4°C. Spawning occurred at night in depths less than 1 mover muck/sand bottoms with much debris and dead vegetation. Spawning areas were also approximately 1.5°C warmer than adjacent waters