An evaluation of the muskellunge fishery of Lake Pomme de Terre and efforts to improve stocking success

Two independent creel census methods (roving and probability) were used to measure fishing pressure and angler success for muskellunge at Lake Pomme de Terre. The two methods provided significant differences in estimated muskellunge harvest and angler effort. The probability method was considered to be more accurate since it utilizes only completed dtrip information for calculating angler effort. Angler acceptance of muskellunge as a trophy fish has increased since this species was first stocked in 1966. Heavy exploitation of initial releases of muskellunge by anglers in 1972 coupled with limited hatchery production of fingerlings has resulted in a limited adult population that provides an annual harvest of 100 to 200 muskellunge per year. Stocking mortality of fingerling muskellunge can be very high and delayed releases of muskellunge held in isolation coves showed that the period of greatest mortality occurred within 48 hours. It is suggested that fingerlings be released in areas near aquatic vegetation and that releases by made after dark to reduce stress. Delayed mortality of muskellunge may be caused by latent pathogens under stress conditions associated with transportation and handling.