Applications of an angler diary for muskellunge (Esox masquinongy)

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.

Muskellunge population assessment in two North-central Minnesota lakes aided by angler participation

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.

Muskies Canada Inc 2019. Angler log program

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 @

The use of angler diary surveys to evaluate long-term changes in muskellunge populations on Lake of the Woods, Ontario

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.

Ontario’s 2009 volunteer muskellunge angler diary program

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%.

Characteristics of Ontario muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) fisheries based on volunteer angler diary information

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 log books reveal long term changes in a lentic pike (Esox lucius) population

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.

Lake of the Woods musky angler diary surveys

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.

Use of angler diaries to examine biases associated with 12-month recall on mail questionnaires

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.

Ontario’s muskellunge angler log program: 1995-2015

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.