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.