Recent trends in the Lake of the Woods muskellunge fishery

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) are found in a variety of different fish community and habitat types in Lake of the Woods but their overall distribution in the lake is sparse. Angling effort for muskellunge increased dramatically during the 1980s, probably in response to increased publicity and improvements in lake navigation. The relative importance of musky angling has continued to increase despite recent declines in overall angling effort. A reported improvement in musky angling quality on Lake of the Woods since 1960, both in terms of average size of fish angled and numbers of fish caught, may be due to reductions in commercial gill netting activity and angling harvest rates and to increases to minimum size regulations in 1987 (1020 mm) and 1992 (1220 mm). Relatively high harvest rates of large northern pike (Esox lucius) which are vulnerable to musky angling techniques, declined after a maximum size limit (one fish over 700 mm) for this species was introduced in 1989.