En 1949, sur la recommandation de l’Association des Pêcheurs et des Chasseurs du lac Saint-Louis, et sous l’impulsion de Ted Glendenning, le Département de la Chasse et de la Pêche entreprenait un expérience, sous la direction du Docteur Gustave Prévost, à savoir s’il nous était possible de pratiquer l’élevage du maskinongé en s’alimentant de l’eau naturelle du fleuve et dont le but était le repeuplement des eaux de la région de Montréal.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.