Contribution of natural reproduction and stocking on fall age-0 esocid abundance in Rose Bay, St. Lawrence River

Survival of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) from the egg stage to early fall juvenile was compared for three modes of origin including natural reproduction, advanced fry stocking and small fingerling stocking. Natural reproduction of northern pike (Esox lucius) was also compared with muskellunge. The egg deposition estimate for northern pike (1,240,300) was over twenty times that of muskellunge (56,000). Survival of northern pike to fall juvenile, however, was estimated to be zero. In comparison, natural muskellunge reproduction contributed 33% of the fall juvenile abundance. Differences in spawning preferences may explain the variability in recruitment. Both strategies of muskellunge stocking contributed to the fall population with post-stocking survival greatest for fingerlings (38.6%) and lower for advanced fry (2.94%). The advanced fry stocking accounted for56% of the fall juvenile population however. When evaluating survival from the egg stage to fall juvenile, advanced fry were most successful. Fingerling survival from eggs was lower because of high mortality during culture. We conclude fry stocking may be a more cost effective strategy where survival is sufficient.