Angler harvest and mortality of Esox masquinongy in Pigeon and Sturgeon lakes, Ontario

In 1961 a creel census was begun on Pigeon Lake in south-central Ontario to assess the contribution to the fishery of maskinonge transplanted from nearby Nogies Creek Fish Sanctuary. A correction being made for a tag loss of 58%, it was estimated that 30% of the transplanted fish had appeared in the anglers’ catch. The mean catch of maskinonge from Pigeon Lake for the seasons of 1961–65 was estimated to be 1318 fish per year. About 4% of the annual catch from Pigeon Lake was attributed directly to fish transplanted from Nogies Creek.From a catch curve the rate of total mortality of Pigeon Lake maskinonge age V or older was estimated to be 43% per year. Partitioning this into mortality due to fishing and mortality from other causes yielded estimates of 24.5% for each of these components.

Sport fisheries trends shown by an annual Minnesota fishing contest over a 58 year period

Since 1915, Fuller’s Tackle Shop at Park Rapids in Minnesota’s northwestern lake region has sponsored an annual fishing contest. Contest records were available for 113,845 entries of 10 fish species from 1930 to 1987. Under increased exploitation, declining trends in number of large‐size entries and mean weight of total entries indicated the development of less desirable size structure for most sport‐fish species. The number of entries of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) abruptly declined after the 1930s. Stocking and size restrictions have not restored a trophy muskellunge fishery. Under increased exploitation, entries of large northern pike Esox lucius have declined gradually since 1948. Numbers of large walleyes (Stizostedion vitreum) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) peaked in 1972 and 1977, respectively, and have since declined. Mean weights of bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) and black crappies (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) have declined since the early 1950s. Large black crappies (≥ 1.75 lb) and bluegills (≥ 1.25 lb) nearly disappeared in the 1980s. Increased entries of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) reflect successful management efforts for these species.

Recent trends in the Lake of the Woods muskellunge fishery

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) are found in a variety of different fish community and habitat types in Lake of the Woods but their overall distribution in the lake is sparse. Angling effort for muskellunge increased dramatically during the 1980s, probably in response to increased publicity and improvements in lake navigation. The relative importance of musky angling has continued to increase despite recent declines in overall angling effort. A reported improvement in musky angling quality on Lake of the Woods since 1960, both in terms of average size of fish angled and numbers of fish caught, may be due to reductions in commercial gill netting activity and angling harvest rates and to increases to minimum size regulations in 1987 (1020 mm) and 1992 (1220 mm). Relatively high harvest rates of large northern pike (Esox lucius) which are vulnerable to musky angling techniques, declined after a maximum size limit (one fish over 700 mm) for this species was introduced in 1989.

Opinions of anglers who fished muskellunge in Wisconsin, 1989

A mail questionnaire was designed to gather information on muskellunge fishing and regulation options in Wisconsin. Approximately 1,1 00 anglers who fish muskellunge in Wisconsin participated. Anglers defined a trophy muskellunge as at least 40 inches in length, and preferably greater than 45 inches. Anglers supported various regulatory options to varying degrees, with the greatest support shown for the current later season opening and high minimum size limits. Concern over Indian spear-fishing activities was identified by anglers as the biggest problem in muskellunge fishing. Most anglers in this survey practiced catch-and-release fishing unless the fish was a trophy or badly injured.

The Lac Seul trophy muskellunge fishery

In recent years, Lac Seul in northwestern Ontario has been the site of a fast growing trophy fishery for muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). Concern about the sustainability of this fishery prompted a catch-and-release regulation to protect the fishery while studies were initiated to investigate the status of the muskellunge population. Preliminary date indicates angler catch-per-unit-of-effort (CUE) declined by more than 50% in a three year period. Compared to other trophy musky populations, the fish are fast growing with a high theoretical maximum length. There is a possibility that, despite the catch-and-release regulation, the trophy fishery may not be sustainable at recent levels of angling effort.

Effects of consumption-oriented versus trophy-oriented fisheries on muskellunge population size structure in northern Wisconsin

To determine whether a consumption‐oriented fishery was compatible with a trophy‐oriented fishery for muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) , we modeled effects of a spearing fishery and recreational angling fishery on population size structure (i.e., numbers of fish ≥ 102, 114, and 127 cm) in northern Wisconsin. An individual‐based simulation model was used to quantify the effect of harvest mortality at currently observed levels of recreational angling and tribal spearing fishery exploitation, along with simulated increases in exploitation, for three typical growth potentials (i.e., low, moderate, and high) of muskellunge in northern Wisconsin across a variety of minimum length limits (i.e., 71, 102, 114, and 127 cm). Populations with moderate to high growth potential and minimum length limits ≥ 114 cm were predicted to have lower declines in numbers of trophy muskellunge when subjected to angling‐only and mixed fisheries at observed and increased levels of exploitation, which suggested that fisheries with disparate motivations may be able to coexist under certain conditions such as restrictive length limits and low levels of exploitation. However, for most muskellunge populations in northern Wisconsin regulated by a 102m as larger declines were predicted across all growth potentials. Our results may be useful if muskellunge management options in northern Wisconsin are re‐examined in the future

The Kawarttha lakes muskellunge fishery

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) are believed to have been one of the original dominant species in the Kawartha lakes fishery of southcentral Ontario. Historically, muskellunge have sustained both commercial and recreational fisheries. Creel surveys conducted by the Kawartha Lakes Fisheries Assessment Unit suggest that each of the Kawartha lakes sustains several thousand hours of muskellunge angler effort and catches of up to 1800 fish annually. Muskellunge angling success during the summer (June – August) fishery ranges from 0.01 to 0.09 fish per angler hour. Sizes of muskellunge from the Kawartha lakes are generally smaller than from other large muskellunge fisheries elsewhere in southern Ontario. Although muskellunge numbers have probably declined since the turn of the century, the Kawartha lakes still provide high quality muskellunge fisheries. Potential impacts resulting from the recent invasion of northern pike (Esox lucius) will be closely monitored.

The importance of trip context for determining primary angler motivations: Are specialised anglers more catchy-oriented that previously believed?

Most conclusions from general assessments of angler motivations indicate that non-catch motives are more important to anglers than catch motives. Such research usually assesses the general motivation structure by anglers. To assess both general and more context‐specific angler motivations, we surveyed the same anglers from northeastern Germany using two phases of a complementary survey design. First, a 1‐year diary was used to collect trip‐specific information; second, a personalized mail survey was used to elicit context‐specific motivation information. Anglers selected their most important motives for their most frequent trip–target species combination (i.e., context) from a list of 10 salient fishing motives. Anglers frequently cited catch motives as the most important across a range of target species, large‐bodied species such as northern pike (Esox lucius) being primarily associated with trophy fishing. Some species (such as small‐bodied cyprinids) were targeted for noncatch reasons, while others (such as European perch [also known as Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis) attracted anglers seeking a multitude of psychological outcomes. Five distinct angler types were identified based on similarity of prime fishing motivation, namely, trophy‐seeking anglers; nontrophy, challenge‐seeking anglers; nature‐oriented anglers; meal‐sharing anglers; and social anglers. Members of these angler groups were similar in demographics and general angling behaviors but differed with respect to several indicators of angler specialization, indicating that committed anglers are more catch‐oriented than previously assumed.

Recapture rates and size selectivity of muskellunge by anglers within two Minnesota fisheries

Increases in catch‐and‐release practices in addition to angler engagement in management activities to evaluate and improve the trophy potential of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) fisheries have become prevalent in recent decades. An expectation of conservative angling practices and regulations is that released fish can be recaptured by anglers at a later time and potentially at a larger size. Although several studies have evaluated Muskellunge recapture rates, no studies have estimated the number of recaptured Muskellunge relative to the number present in the population. Additionally, few studies have evaluated angling size selectivity and the potential benefits or biases of incorporating those data into traditional Muskellunge assessments. This study evaluated the proportion of muskellunge that were caught and recaptured relative to the population estimates in two Minnesota water bodies and the potential length‐related bias from angler‐caught fish. Data were obtained from traditional sampling gears (i.e., trap netting, boat electrofishing) and angling by volunteer anglers in the Mississippi and Crow Wing rivers and Baby and Man lakes. Participating anglers captured 11–22% of the population, of which 1–3% were subsequently recaptured at both sites annually. Recaptured fish accounted for 5–16% of the annual catch. At the Mississippi River site, proportionally larger fish were angled compared with the modeled population size structure, whereas angler catch from Baby and Man lakes was similar to the modeled size structure, likely due to the differing techniques used by anglers in the two water bodies. A more thorough understanding of recapture rates and size selectivity may be particularly important when managing a low‐density species as angling pressure and angler involvement in management activities increase.

An evaluation of the muskellunge fishery in Cave Run Lake, Kentucky

Cave Run Lake , 3,347 hectares, was impounded in 1974 on the Licking River. The river had a native population of muskellunge but an additional 0.3 fish/ha were stocked above the dam in 1973. Since then, annual stockings of the lake have occurred at the rates of 1.1-1.3 fish/ha; lengths of stocked fish have been 102-356 mm. The largest planting was in 1974; 10,445 fish of 102-305 mm length. Yearly standing crops of muskellunge in coves have ranged between 0 and 0.7 fish (0.04-0.7 kg)/hectare. In 1975, anglers took 56 muskellunge (214 kg) of legal size (762 mm minimum length) at a rate of 1 fish/58 hours. In 1976, these statistics improved to 1,029 fish (4,140 kg) and 1 fish/48 hours. Muskellunge provided 21% by weight of the total angler harvest that year. The 1977 muskellunge take was 478 fish (2,300 kg) at a rate of 1 fish/82 hours. The 1974 year class provided 68% and 78% of the muskellunge harvest in 1976 and 1977, respectively. Muskellunge reach legal length between ages II and IV compared with ages III-VI in Kentucky streams. Carp and gizzard shad were the only food items identified in stomachs of muskellunge.