MCI Accomplishments

Muskies Canada has been a very busy club over the last 40 years. We are very proud of what we have been able to achieve so far. The following list of accomplishments represents a lot of hard work by members who wanted to get involved and give something back to the resource. This list will continue to grow as we move forward into the next 40 years.

We would like to sincerely thank all of our members and partners for their past efforts and continued involvement with the club.

  • Brewer Park Pond Restoration Project (2014 – 2016)
    The landlocked Brewer Park Pond and former artificial swimming hole have undergone a facelift, a transfusion and a rejuvenation to become a naturally-functioning habitat for all kinds of wildlife in Ottawa and importantly become, once again, a part of the Rideau River itself. Using an ecosystem approach, the partners in this project intend to increase overall biodiversity with the creation of a new, vibrant wetland and pond with shoreline plantings, breeding bird habitat, amphibian habitat, turtle nesting beds and basking logs all connected to the main channel of the nearby Rideau River. The pond will provide improved spawning, nursery, rearing and feeding habitat for the local fish community in the Rideau all year round. This area will be particularly important for Muskie spawning. The on-site work took place in November and December, 2014.The project accomplishes two important goals for local residents:
    – Rejuvenation of the pond with increased fish and wildlife habitat
    – Maintenance of current park uses after construction, including complete walking trail around the pond.

    We are pleased to confirm that both objectives will be achieved thanks to the goodwill and understanding of all the project partners including MINTO, Richcraft, the City of Ottawa, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Muskies Canada, the Institute of Environmental Science at Carleton University and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.

    Muskies Canada Ottawa Chapter has been a partner in this project throughout the long planning approvals process over most of the last 2 decades. Hedrik Wachelka has been tireless in his work to help move this project forward. The Ottawa Chapter, with assistance from the Hugh C. Becker Foundation has partnered with Carleton University to tag and monitor 40 Esocidae (20 Pike and 20 Muskies) to follow their movements before and after the completion of this new feature.

    There will be an opportunity to volunteer for a shoreline planting day May 9, 2015 around the perimeter of the pond. Capital Ward Councilor David Chernushenko said, “Residents of Capital Ward work very hard to maintain and improve our local environment, and like to seize special opportunities such as this. Tree plantings, river shore protection, clean up initiatives and promoting active outdoor life styles by our residents are all close to our hearts and this project fits us well. Thanks to all parties for bringing this progressive project to Brewer Park!”

    For more information: Jennifer Lamoureux, Aquatic & Fish Habitat Biologist Rideau Valley Conservation Authority 613-692-3571 ext. 1108 jennifer.lamoureux@rvca.ca

  • Jock River Embayment Creation Project (2014 – 2016)
    In October 2014, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RCVA) constructed a fish habitat embayment at the Richmond conservation Area, located in Ottawa, Ontario. This project was done in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Shell Fueling Change, Muskies Canada Ottawa Chaper, National Defence Fish and Game Club, Community Foundation of Ottawa, Fendock and the Ottawa Flyfishers Society.The project involved converting an existing grassed park area into a small wetland embayment along the shoreline of the Jock River. Raab Construction Ltd. was retained to help construct the new wetland and work couldn’t have been completed without the help of a group of dedicated volunteers.

    A Spring Community tree planing day is planned for May 16th to complete the project.

    For more information, contact:
    Jennifer Lamoureux, Aquatic & Fish Habitat Biologist
    Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
    613-692-3571 ext. 1108

  • Jock River Project Wins Prestigious National Conservation Award (2014)
    The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, the Ottawa Chapter of Muskies Canada, National Defence Headquarters Fish and Game Club and Ottawa Flyfishers Society are thrilled to announce that they have just won the Top Canadian Fishing Industry Conservation Project Award for 2014.The Jock River Habitat Embayment Creation Project saw the creation of 1,000 square meters of new spawning, nursery, rearing and feeding habitat at the Richmond Conservation Area (Richmond Ontario). This tranformation will support the 40 plus species of fish that reside in Ottawa’s Jock River – including muskellunge and northern pike. The shoreline wetland will also provide important habitat to other species such as birds, amphibians and turtles and increase overall biodiversity. It will also improve shoreline stability and protect water quality in the river.

    “Ottawa Chapter is delighted to be part of this rewarding habitat enhancement project, said Ken Taggart, Chair of Muskies Canada (Ottawa Chapter). “This is another example of how we can accomplish so much more by working together in partnership than we ever could by ourselves.”

  • Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Project Wins Top Conservation Award (2010)
    The Spring Fishing and Boat Show and its partners established a new award in 2010 for the top fishing conservation project of the year. The inaugural winner was Muskie Canada’s Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Project. This multi-year project is to reintroduce muskellunge into Lake Simcoe after an absence of about 30 years. The project is led by Dave Boxall, Project Manager, and Jim Kelly of Muskies Canada and Jason Borwick and Brad Allan of the Ontario MNR. It is supported by many partners, including the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Sir Sandford Fleming College, Muskies Inc., Canadian Sportsman’s Shows, Bob Izumi’s Fishing Forever Foundation, Georgian Bay Hunters and Anglers and the Spring Fishing and Boat Show.

  • Project Noble Beast Muskie Catch and Release Study (2009 – 2011)
    In the early eighties, the one and only study on the impacts of catch and release angling on muskellunge, concluded there was up to a 30% mortality rate of angled fish, likely due to the stress of the experience. Thirty years and numerous changes in tackle, fish handling techniques and angler knowledge, there was a need to re-examine the mortality rate of muskies that were caught by anglers using modern tackle and techniques. In 2009, Masters of Science candidate, Sean Landsman, undertook a field study, fondly referred to as Project Noble Beast, to determine the sub-lethal and lethal effects of the catch-and-release process using two different handling procedures (normal and gentle). The project required intense angling effort, which was carried out over the summer and fall muskellunge angling seasons in 2009 and 2010, yielding 77 muskies up to 52 inches long. Under the tutelage of Dr. Steven Cooke of Carleton University and Dr. Cory Suski of the University of Illinois, Sean collected blood samples used to assess the physiological impact of the angling process and these samples were compared to those obtained from fish sampled via electrofishing (control group baseline levels). Behaviour and survival were assessed by attaching radio transmitters to a sub-sample of 30 fish (15 per handling procedure) and tracking their movements.Hedrik Wachelka of the Ottawa Chapter of Muskies Canada worked tirelessly with Sean to organize, fundraise and assist in angling muskies from the Ottawa and Rideau River systems. Hedriks efforts and those of the nearly two dozen other volunteers from Muskies Canada were instrumental in the completion of the project. Blood sample analysis revealed minimal physiological disturbances between handling treatments. Behaviours were similar for fish from each handling group. Perhaps most importantly, all radio-tagged fish survived the catch-and-release event making this finding of 0 percent mortality dramatically different from the 30 percent figure previously suggested for muskellunge. True zero percent mortality can never exist in a hook-and-line fishery, but muskellunge fishing mortality may indeed be negligible.

    Sean has published the results of this research in Fisheries Research an International journal on fisheries science, fishing technology, and fisheries management, and is available by permission, here. Seans paper was also presented at the World Recreational Fishing Conference in Berlin, Germany in the summer of 2011 to very positive reviews. This original research will save countless muskie and other fishes lives worldwide in the future.

    Major funding for this research effort was generated by Muskies Canada, various chapters of MCI, Muskies Inc, the Becker Foundation as well as support from Carleton U and various government agencies.

  • St. Lawrence River Muskellunge DNA Sampling Project (2008)
    The Gananoque Chapter is involved in collecting DNA samples from both YOY muskellunge and muskellunge we catch while angling. These samples are then forwarded to a graduate student, Kevin Kapuscinski, working under Dr. John Farrell at State University of New York of Environmental Science and Forestry–Syracuse campus.

  • Big Jim Raffle (2008)
    Muskies Canada helped to raise over $15,000.00 dollars in support of Big Jim McLaughlin and his family. Matt Clay and Jim Hutchings deserve special mention for their leadership roles and extraordinary efforts for this cause.

  • OMNR Guidelines for Competitive Fishing Events for Muskellunge in Ontario (2007)
    With the unique nature of wild muskellunge stocks in Ontario, their vulnerability as a low density predator, and a strong desire to protect the fishery, there was the need to develop best management practices for tournaments specifically directed toward muskellunge. While it is believed that large prize tournaments for muskellunge should be strongly discouraged due to the unique characteristics of the species (low density populations and high susceptibility to post-release mortality), the following guidelines have been developed for tournament organizers who may still choose to hold a muskellunge tournament in Ontario. Rob Howitt and Chris Purdy worked with the OMNR to establish these guidelines.

  • Dr. Ed Crossman Muskie Symposium (2005)
    Over 200 Muskie Biologists, Scientists, Educators and concerned anglers gathered for this 3 day event in Indianapolis. President Rob Howitt represented Muskies Canada at this Muskies Inc. sponsored event. A number of Canadian researchers including Dr. John Cassleman made presentations on various aspects of muskie biology. Rob presented Dr. Cassleman with a Muskies Canada Appreciation Award for his many contributions involving muskellunge research and conservation.

  • Lake of The Woods Spawning Survey (2005 – 2007)
    Muskies Canada provided supplemental funding support to this project headed by Tom Mosindy, Unit Biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Kenora District. The purpose of this study was to carry out netting and the associated spawning habitat research with respect to muskellunge and to identify muskellunge spawning sites on Lake of the Woods.

  • Dow’s Lake RadioTagging Study (2005 – 2007)
    The Ottawa Chapter participated in this study lead by Dr. Stephen Cook and carried out by the Carleton University Biology department students. 10 Muskies were tagged and monitored as part of this project. The project provided an opportunity for the students to learn to work with Muskellunge. The Ottawa chapter donated fishing equipment and provided financial and member support to the study.

  • Lake Scugog Hoop Net Study (2004)
    Muskies Canada members participated in a 4 day hoop net study run by the MNR on Lake Scugog: Mike Butler, Steve Wickens, and 3 Trent University Biology students.

  • Georgian Bay Trap Netting Studies (2001 – 2006)
    Muskies Canada provided angler assistance and funding in support of netting and other studies in order to expand the knowledge base of Georgian Bay muskie populations. Arunas Liskauskas and the OMNR were the prime researchers. There was also participation by MCI members in a number of netting studies with MNR staff on Sparrow Lake, Lake Couchiching, and in a number of areas of Georgian Bay over more recent years – preparation work for Lake Simcoe.

  • Jock River Restoration (2001)
    Muskies Canada Ottawa Chapter provided funding support to the Friends of the Jock River, a local community group working on a project to build a water trough and erect fencing to keep cattle out of the Jock River near Richmond, Ontario. Continued efforts towards best practice water management projects and supporting environmentally sound water taking permit regulations.

  • Dunbar Bridge Fish Embayments (2001)
    The Ottawa chapter undertook fish habitat improvement project by building 2 small bays on previously disturbed land resulting from new bridge construction. The chapter also participated in replanting vegetation in the area.

  • Muskellunge as Host of Lamprey Study (2000 – 2002)
    Muskies Canada Ottawa chapter members provided angling info, live lamprey from muskie, and photos of scarred fish to Dr. Claude Renaud, who prepared a paper published in the July – September 2002, Canadian Field Naturalist. This was the first scientific record of silver lamprey utilizing large muskellunge as prey.

  • Lake Scugog Tagging Project Phase 1 (2000 – 2005)
    Muskies Canada members led by Steve Wickens and other Toronto chapter members with the support of the OMNR. A study was conducted on the biology and behaviour of angler caught muskie using Pit tags and wands over a period of 6 years. Over 660 muskellunge were captured and released during the study.

  • Saugeen River Muskie Study (2000 – 2001)
    Beginning in October 2000 the Owen Sound MNR and Muskies Canada undertook a study to learn more about the river-resident muskie in the Saugeen River watershed. Very little was known about the biology of this magnificent fish within the Saugeen River and its tributaries. In order to manage and protect this unique population, the OMNR (A. McKee) with the help of Muskies Canada, collected scale samples for DNA analysis and performed muskellunge radio tagging and tracking studies.

  • Rideau River Shoreline Restoration Project (1999)
    Muskies Canadas Ottawa Chapter members re-planted vegetation on a damaged slope and shoreline along the downtown Rideau Rideau River, to prevent further erosion. Plantings included cattails, grasses, shrubs, and trees.

  • Ontario Muskellunge Management Strategy (1999)
    Muskies Canada, led by president Ian Smith, worked with partners and the OMNR to develop and implement a regulatory management plan which includes benchmark size limits – high density to world class, based on scientific growth potential, protect females until 7 yrs old, ensure diversity of opportunity in each region. Limits were raised on a number of waters including the Ottawa River which went to 54” minimum size.

  • A Summary of Muskies Canada Angler Log Information 1979-94 (1996)
    Steve Kerr (OMNR) published this technical report summarizing angler log info collected by Muskies Canada thru the years. There was 46,668 rods hours /3054 muskellunge reflected in the data. The largest muskellunge captured was 58.25 inches. Angling quality was expressed as catch per unit effort for different years and different water bodies. The combined CUE for the study period was 0.065 which relates to an average 15 hours to catch a muskie.

  • Spanish Harbour Muskellunge Re-Introduction Project (1996 – 2004)
    In 1996, Muskies Canada became a partner in this multi year project. Muskies Canada provided tactical assistance, funding, and angler support. Results are favourable as a Young of the Year muskies are now being reported.

  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans, National Recreational Fishing Award (1996)
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) developed the National Recreational Fisheries Award program to honour individuals and organizations for their contribution to the conservation, restoration and enhancement of Canada’s recreational fisheries and their habitat. These individuals and organizations have played, and continue to play, a very important role in sustaining and developing the recreational fishing experience throughout Canada.In March of 1996, the Ottawa Valley Chapter received a National Recreational Fisheries Award, principally for its work on the Rideau River that included visual spawning muskellunge surveys, radio tracking of muskellunge in the Long Reach section of the river, work to develop muskellunge regulation changes, and shoreline/habitat restoration along the downtown section of the Rideau.

  • Madawaska Tracking Research (1995 – 1996)
    Work carried out by Robb Dey and Rob Cruise of the Ottawa Chapter on the Madawaska Headpond. Muskie were caught and external radio tags were utilized during the tracking.

  • Upper Niagara River Length Limits (1995)
    During 1995, the Hamilton chapter submitted a written proposal to the Minister to set limits to 44 inches and bring regulations in line with NY State.

  • Managing Muskies in the 90s (1995)
    A joint conference co-produced by the OMNR and Muskies Canada in Kemptville, Ontario. A 170 page report was produced reflecting numerous research papers on muskellunge management.

  • Proposal to Increase Size Limits of Muskellunge, Tweed Region (1995)
    A position paper requesting better protection of small water muskie populations of the Stoco, Moira and Crowe lakes ( 1995) and subsequent cleithra gathering support.

  • Rideau River Ice Management (1995)
    Muskies Canada (Ottawa Chapter) protested fish kills resulting from ice blasting. Muskies Canada and partners worked with consultants to produce a report recommending mechanical ice removal in March 1995.

  • Lake Seul Action Plan (1993)
    Muskies Canada prepared a letter to the Minister asking for emergency action to implement total catch and release to protect remaining fish in this stressed fishery. Also Muskies Canada provided funding for future research on these fish.

  • Spawning Survey Crowe Lake (1993)
    A number of lake zones were identified as spawning habitats via visual inspection of muskies present. Most of the work carried out by John Croskery of the Tweed chapter.

  • OV Launch Ramp Signs (1993)
    Ottawa chapter erects muskie information/education signs along the upper Ottawa River in 1993.

  • Project Maskinonge (1993 – 1995)
    Montreal and Ottawa chapter provide angler support for catching muskellunge for radio tagging. Fish were tracked by University of Quebec student Richard Monfette, and studied many habitat variables on the Ottawa River including spawning zones.

  • Rideau River Telemetry Project (1993 – 1995)
    Initiated and carried out in totality by the Ottawa Chapter on the Long Reach. Ten muskie were tracked to find potential spawning sites, found to include bays, creeks, and riverbend areas ( 93-95). Report produced.

  • Tweed Launch Ramp Signs (1992)
    Muskies Canada members created and installed ten 4×4 muskie information signs at ramps along the Moira, Stoco, and Crowe Lakes in 1992. Follow up maintenance was subsequently provided.

  • The Ottawa River-Prospect for the Future (1992)
    Ottawa chapter produces a position paper lobbying Ont. and Qc. resource agencies to change fishery regulations by increasing length limits to 44 inches, possession limit to 1 and ice fishing closed season. Recommendation accepted for implementation on May 9, 1992.

  • Muskellunge Spawning Study, Downtown (1991 – 1992)
    A visual survey carried out by Ottawa chapter on the Ottawa reaches of the Rideau during 1991 and 1992. A report was completed by Hedrik Wachelka.

  • Severn Sound Muskellunge Spawning Area Survey (1991 – 1992)
    Muskies Canada volunteers using their own boats surveyed assigned areas in the Severn Sound area trying to spot spawning muskellunge. Volunteers recorded data including the water temperature measured with a scientific thermometer and water clarity measured with a sechi disk. Observations were recorded on a map noting the area they covered and the location of any observed muskellunge. Jim Hutchings coordinated this project with Robin Craig, District Biologist, OMNR Huronia.

  • Rideau River Spawning Survey (1990 – 1991)
    A visual survey carried out by the Ottawa chapter during 1990/91 on the Long Reach of the Rideau. A report was completed by Doug Meeking.

  • Balsam Lake Spawning Survey (1987 – 1988)
    Muskies Canada provided volunteer and financial support to this survey.

  • Muskellunge Size Regulation Proposal (1985)
    Muskies Canada President Paul Gasbarino and Jim Hutchings, with support from the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters, presented a proposal to the OMNR in support of higher size limits for muskellunge and recommended changes to the Deer Lake Muskellunge Hatchery. Dr. Ed Crossman allowed Jim access to his extensive muskellunge research library at the Royal Ontario Museum. Over the course of a weeks vacation Jim was able to photocopy a large number of research papers from many muskellunge researchers in Canada and the U.S. The scientific information from these papers was used to support higher size limits of 34″ in most waters and 40″ where great lakes strain muskellunge were present. This allowed female muskellunge at least two spawns before they could be harvested. All female muskellunge were sexually immature at the previous 28″ size limit. The daily harvest limit was reduced to one fish per day. A review of the Deer Lake Hatchery was conducted circa 1988. Recommendations were made to increase fingerling size to improve survival. Unfortunately the Deer Lake hatchery was closed in Government cutbacks before the changes were implemented.

  • Lake Scugog OMNR Trap Netting (1981 – 1983)
    Muskies Canada Inc. provided night time security for trap nets at the Lake Scugog causeway circa 1981-1983. A contract student by the name of Mitchell Phinney measured and tagged any muskellunge captured in the nets each day. Mitchell is now a Conservation Officer with the OMNR. Members volunteering to provide security could assist Mitchell with handling the muskellunge captured in the nets the following day. Steve Wickens was the coordinator who organized the MCI volunteers.