Ontario muskellunge regulations and enforcement issues

In most respects muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) fishing regulations in Ontario are very similar to those for other fish species and yet the techniques of muskellunge angling and the objectives of the angler are often quite different from other targeted sport fish. This presentation will address some of the common questions and concerns raised by muskellunge anglers such as the restriction on the use of live fish as bait, muskellunge limits for Conservation Licence holders and the requirement to immediately release fish in excess of “catch-and-retain” limits and fish of prohibited size.

The presentation will also address a priority issue for OMNR enforcement. In recent years, conservation officers have found significant numbers of non-baitfish species such as yellow perch, sunfish, crayfish and bullheads in Ontario retail bait shops as well as exotic species such as goby, loach and aquarium species in angler bait buckets. The presence of non-baitfish species, in combination with the widespread and unlawful practice of “bait bucket dumping” represents a significant threat to Ontario’s aquatic biodiversity. The OMNR enforcement program is taking active steps to influence a change in angler behavior and in commercial bait industry practices