An examination of Minnesota’s muskellunge waters

We examined Minnesota’s muskellunge, Esox masquinongy, populations using various data sets including spring trap net assessments and angler diary surveys. We confronted a potentially problematic data set that had a large number of zero catches by fitting logistic models to the presence/absence data set and linear models to the subset of data that included catches with one fish or more. Currently, 105 lakes have been identified as muskellunge waters, of which 61 lakes have been created and maintained by stocking. Although the proportion of successful anglers has increased over time, catch rates have remained the same. It appears from analysis of trap net catches that the abundance of 102 cm (40 in) and larger muskellunge has been increasing over time. Both trap net and angler data provide some indications that size of muskellunge caught has also increased over time. Angler-harvested muskellunge averaged 11 years of age and 115 cm (45 in) total length. For Minnesota waters, muskellunge ultimate length averaged 134 cm (53 in) for females and 119 cm (47 in) for males. All evidence indicates a successful management program