Survival and growth of muskellunge fingerlings stocked in four Vilas County, Wisconsin, lakes

Four-, eight-, and twelve inch muskellunge fingerlings were stocked at the rate of 4/acre in four Vilas County lakes in 1976 and 1977, and their subsequent survival and growth were evaluated. Short- and long-term survival of all three size groups was similar in Arrowhead Lake for fish stocked in 1976, while short-and-long-terms survival for muskellunge fingerlings stocked in Arrowhead Lake in 1977 was highest for stocked 12 inch fingerlings. Survival was also highest for the 12 inch fingerlings stocked in Branch and Johnson lakes in both 1976 and 1977, while survival of all three size groups in Sparkling Lake was negligible both years. Growth of the muskellunge fingerlings stocked in Arrowhead Lake was better than the growth of fingerlings in hatchery rearing ponds. The good survival and growth of fingerlings stocked in Arrowhead Lake can probably be attributed to the low density of northern pike and other potential predators and an abundant supply of you-of-the-year yellow perch in 1976 and 1977.The yellow perch probably provided a food source for the stocked muskellunge and served as a buffer from would-be predators. This study indicated that small muskellunge fingerlings (approximately 4 inches) can contributed to a sport fishery when stocked in a lake with a low density of predators and a good supply of suitable forage. It is recommended that only large (12 inches or larger) fingerlings be stocked where there is a moderate-to=large northern pike (predator) population.