Fluctuations in the muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) population of Chautauqua Lake

Population and exploitation estimates were made from angler recaptures of Chautauqua Lake muskellunge,Esox masquinongy Mitchill. Fish were tagged during Conservation Department studies in 1941–1946, 1961–1965 and 1976–1978. Population estimates of adult fish ranged from one to seven fish per hectare and angler exploitation rates of tagged fish fluctuated from 3.8% to 14.1%. Relative catch indicators suggest a major decline in the lake’s muskellunge population during the last decade. Overexploitation, habitat alteration and interspecific competition with recently introduced fish species were cited as probable causes of the decline.