Steve Nelson se mérite le Paul Gasbarino Distinguished Service Award 2024

Steve Nelson, un membre de longue date, a reçu hier soir le prix Paul Gasbarino Distinguished Service Award 2024, lors de la réunion mensuelle de Kawartha Lakes.

C’est un honneur bien mérité pour M. Nelson qui a servi le club toutes ces années :

  • 1997-1999 Secrétaire National
  • 2000-2003 Secrétaire-trésorier national
  • 2007-2020 Secrétaire National
  • Président 2021-2022

De la part de vos confrères, félicitations Monsieur Nelson!

Snubbie du Saint-Laurent – Une histoire de remise à l’eau

Nicolas Perrier et Snubbie!

Par une froide matinée de novembre en 2022, Nicolas Perrier, président du chapitre de Montréal de Muskies Canada, et son partenaire de pêche Steve Goupil, étaient sur le Saint-Laurent, dans la région de Cornwall, à la poursuite de maskinongés et de dorés géants. À la traîne dans et hors du courant fort avec une paire d’équipement à doré et à maskinongé. Un doré décent de 27 pouces a été dupé sur une alose scintillante de Berkley. Répétant le même schéma pour un autre doré quelques instants plus tard, c’est la canne à maskinongé qui a eu un visiteur. À cet endroit, il est courant que les grands dorés attaquent les gros leurres à maskinongé, de sorte que les hochements de tête n’étaient pas clairs sur ce qui avait au bout de la ligne. Après avoir détaché la canne de son support, Nicolas a réalisé que la force de la traction du poisson gardant le fond dans 23 pieds d’eau dans un courant fort, c’était clairement la plus grande espèce qui avait pris l’offrande. Après un grand combat, “snubbie” était dans l’épuisette.

Snubbie

Quelques instants après avoir attrapé la grosse femelle, Nicolas et Steve ont réalisé qu’elle s’était développée avec une mâchoire supérieure diforme. Hormis cette anomalie, le trophée 52 x 21 pouces était en parfaite santé. Sa circonférence était bien dans la moyenne, confirmant que l’anomalie n’affectait pas sa capacité à se nourrir. Elle avait été à peine accrochée, avec un seul ardillon, ce qui a rendu la manipulation et la libération d’un claquement de doigts. Une photo rapide et elle était de retour dans son terrain de chasse en quelques minutes, en faisant des éclaboussures.

Environ trois semaines se sont écoulées et un ami a partagé une photo Instagram d’un poisson avec une anomalie faciale similaire, qui avait été publiée par Travis Stacey (TimberXTitanX27 sur Instagram). Travis est un guide de pêche, originaire de Kahnawake, Qc. Se pourrait-il que ce soit Snubbie? La comparaison a été rendue difficile parce que Nicolas est droitier avec sa prise du maskinongé, tandis que Travis tient la tête avec sa main gauche – aucune marque commune n’a pu être identifiée avec les côtés opposés du poisson capturé sur les photos. Une fente mineure dans la queue était commune aux deux séries de photos, et un examen plus approfondi des traits du visage ainsi que du motif latéral étant le même, Nicolas a décidé de contacter Travis, dans l’espoir de confirmer que c’était bel et bien le même poisson. Travis a confirmé que la longueur était la même à moins de 1/2 pouce. Il avait effectué une mesure rapide sans planche, ce qui introduisait probablement jusqu’à un pouce d’erreur. Après avoir partagé quelques photos supplémentaires, les pêcheurs ont confirmé le match. Grâce aux réseaux sociaux, cela se produit plusieurs fois par an. Il n’est pas rare non plus qu’un pêcheur recapture un poisson quelques années plus tard. Mais cet événement avait quelque chose de spécial. Nicolas et Steve ont embarqué snubbie le 24 novembre, tandis qu’elle a rendu visite au bateau de Travis le lendemain, le 25 novembre. Combien de fois est-il arrivé qu’un maskinongé morde  à nouveau dans les 24 heures? C’est sûrement un signe que la population de maskinongés de Saint-Laurent, en particulier dans les eaux riches en oxygène autour de Cornwall, est en pleine forme. Travis a félicité Nicolas et Steve pour leur libération, un geste qui a été apprécié. Ils ont ri de la façon dont l’apparence de Snubbie a permis à cette rencontre fortuite d’avoir lieu.

Travis Stacey a capturé Snubbie le lendemain!

Travis Stacey a capturé Snubbie le lendemain!

Le matin du 25 novembre, mon copain de pêche Joe Raymond, un guide d’achigan à petite bouche bien établi sur la rivière Susquehanna en Pennsylvanie et moi, étions partis chasser le musky. Le temps était idéal, vent du sud-ouest avec un ciel couvert et des pluies occasionnelles. Nous nous sommes arrêtés à notre premier endroit et n’avions pas vu un seul musky jusqu’à la fin de la dérive. Nous pêchions une fosse secondaire en eau profonde avec l’espoir qu’un gros prédateur attend pour se nourrir. À moins de 1 mile nautique de la capture de Nicolas, je lance un tube lesté de 12 pouces de couleur perchaude. J’avais acquis ce leurre de mon bon ami Joe Flo dans son magasin de leurres à maskinongé à Kahnawake, au Québec, il y a des années et il attrape de gros poissons depuis le premier jour. Quand nous voyons le poisson en direct, nous savions tous les deux qu’il s’agissait d’un poisson de plus de 50 pouces. Lors de nos premiers lancers, elle a retiré le fond et a chassé le leurre de Joe de style Bulldawgs de 8 à 10 pieds environ, puis elle retournait au fond. Donc, à ce stade, nous savons où le poisson était et maintenant, nous devons le faire manger. Nous remontons lentement le courant autour du poisson pour nous assurer de ne pas l’effrayer. Lors de la deuxième dérive, j’ai fait mon lancer et j’ai regardé mon appât tomber au fond et ce musky avait faim!! Elle a quitté le fond et a commencé à nager à pleine vitesse avec mon appât. J’ai fait une traction sur le tube et dès que j’ai mis en pause l’appât. POW!! Fish On!! Une fois que nous avons passé le poisson dans le filet. On le décroche rapidement. Nous nous sommes tous les deux regardés et nous avons ri. C’est un look spécial. Mais ce nez court et trapu ne semble pas affecter ses habitudes alimentaires. C’est un long guerrier sain du fleuve Saint-Laurent. Après avoir pris une photo rapide, nous avons relâché la vieille fille et elle a nagé jusque dans ses aires d’alimentation. Le fleuve Saint-Laurent est vraiment une remarquable Mecque piscicole. Nous devons prendre soin des ressources et vraiment préserver notre pêche pour les générations à venir. La capture et la remise à l’eau rapides par Nicolas Perrier et son partenaire de pêche Steve Goupil montrent qu’avec des soins appropriés, ces poissons peuvent reprendre leurs habitudes alimentaires naturelles. Bon travail de leur part !!

Bonne pêche tout le monde!

Travis Stacey

Le Release Journal est de retour!

Muskies Canada est très fier d’annoncer le retour du Release Journal!

Au fil des ans le Release journal est passée d’une lettre de nouvelles dactylographiée de quelques pages à un magazine de qualité professionnelle qui est devenue la référence pour les amateurs de pêche au maskinongé.

La production d’une telle publication demandait beaucoup d’effort de la part d’un ou deux bénévoles, si bien qu’il nous a fallu prendre un pas de recul pour trouver une meilleure solution afin de produire le même contenu de qualité, mais de manière plus efficace. 

Alors voilà, comme le phénix, le Release Journal renait de ses cendres aujourd’hui grâce au collosal travail de notre éditeur Rob Dykens et de son équipe. Il faut mentionné aussi l’excellent travail de Dave Cunningham et du commité du Release Journal qui a su repenser la production du magazine afin d’en assurer la continuité.

Le contenu de l’édition d’automne 2022 du Release journal est encore une fois très diversifié. Allant de la recherches aux techniques de pêche, chacun y trouvera quelque chose de divertissant.

 Le release Journal est disponible pour tout les membres de Muskies Canada. Pour s’abonner au magazine, il suffiet de de devenir membre! En plus, vous aurez accès aux archives du magazine qui remontent à 1979!

(English) St. Lawrence River Muskie Angler Workshop

Désolé, cet article est seulement disponible en Anglais Canadien.

Briefing & Consultation Session
March 12, 2022, 9.00 -11.00 am
Organized by Muskies Canada.

If you love fishing Muskies on the Upper St. Lawrence, dont miss this workshop. It’s for both Canadian and American anglers.

Hear the Latest:
Dr. John Farrell (Thousand Islands Biological Station) will give a presentation on latest issues and status of the Upper St. Lawrence Muskie Fishery.

Colin Lake, Of the Lake Ontario Management Unit, MNDMNRF, will speak about Muskellunge assessment and management in the Ontario section of the St. Lawrence River.

Speak Up:
This is your chance to bring forward comments, concerns and observations from the Muskie angling community. An important part of this workshop will be to hear from you to provide input for planning and management.

Muskies Canada is hosting this important session on Zoom.

You missed it? Watch the video!

 

(English) What are the ecological impacts of winter water level drawdowns on muskellunge in Canada’s historic Rideau Canal? Exploring winter connectivity and habitat use to inform conservation strategies

Désolé, cet article est seulement disponible en Anglais Canadien.

Jordanna N. Bergman, PhD Candidate | Department of Biology, Carleton University

The Rideau Canal Waterway, located in eastern Ontario, is a 202-kilometres continuous route that forms a hydrological connection between the Ottawa River, at Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, and Lake Ontario, at the city of Kingston. Constructed 1826 to 1832, the system was originally created for Canadian commercial shipping and national defence; today, the Rideau Canal is primarily operated for recreation. The completed Rideau Canal includes a series of rivers, lakes, and constructed channels interconnected by 24 operating lockstations that form the navigable waterway, many with adjacent water-control dams. As a National Historic Site of Canada, a Canadian Heritage River, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal is internationally significant and, as a result, is highly regulated by the federal agency Parks Canada. Parks Canada is legally mandated to prioritize public safety, meet navigation requirements, and protect federally listed at-risk species; although their focus is not wildlife conservation, continuous management of the system has indeed supported the organisms residing within. The Rideau Canal has been described as having one of the most diverse fish assemblages (107 documented fish species) in Canada, and additionally, it supports one of the few wild urban muskellunge fisheries in North America supported by natural reproduction. Similar to most freshwater ecosystems, muskellunge in the Rideau Canal are ecologically important as apex predators and are also recreationally important as iconic sportfish.

During the Rideau Canal’s navigation season, which runs each year mid-May to mid-October, a channel along the entire waterway is maintained (minimum depth 1.5-metres) for boaters to travel safely. Outside of the navigation season, however, water levels in many reaches of the system are lowered (i.e., drawdowns). Each winter, in an 8.2-kilometre stretch of the waterway from Black Rapids Lockstation (45.321438, -75.698007) to Long Island Lockstation (45.250954, -75.702111), water levels are lowered by approximately 3-metres (10-feet). We refer to this section as the “Eccolands Reach” because of the nearby local Eccolands park. Most of the Eccolands Reach ranges in depth from 4.5-7.5-metres with a max depth of 9.1-metres; lowering the water levels by 3-metres for winter therefore significantly reduces the amount of habitat available for aquatic animals to overwinter in. 

Protecting habitat – critical habitats in particular – plays a key role in effective conservation. Critical habitat is defined as “the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a (listed) wildlife species,” and specific to aquatic species, critical habitat includes “areas on which aquatic species depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes.” Thus, any area that supports a life history process necessary for the survival of a species would therefore be considered “critical.” Though not explicitly stated, habitats which supports overwintering of aquatic organisms in Canada are consequently critical. Winter in North America is already an ecologically challenging season for freshwater fishes, and annual winter drawdowns can exacerbate challenges fish are already experiencing like reduced habitat and refuge from areas with lethal dissolved oxygen levels. Our goal is to not wait until it’s too late, and instead take proactive measures to ensure critical habitat of muskellunge is protected. Of serious concern to the Eccolands Reach muskellunge population are the highly urbanized surrounding lands. Previous research has shown that persistent anthropogenic disturbances and environmental modifications, like shoreline alteration, runoff from developments, and decreased water quality, can be detrimental to freshwater ecosystems, particularly to habitat quality and quantity. By discovering what areas of the Rideau Canal are most important to muskellunge survival and population health, we can proactively take steps to protect (and potentially even enhance) those areas and work against population declines. Because of the significant winter water drawdowns, and project timing, we decided to evaluate overwintering habitats first.

We use acoustic telemetry to track muskellunge movements in the Eccolands Reach. Acoustic telemetry essentially has two parts to it: 1) acoustic tags and 2) acoustic receivers. The tags are surgically implanted into muskellunge and each tag emits a “ping” every 20-seconds with a unique ID and timestamp. Acoustic receivers are deployed and sit at the bottom of the river, waiting for a tagged fish to swim by. When a tagged fish swims by a receiver and its tag emits a ping, the receiver stores that information, providing a corresponding time and date for when that individual fish was near that specific receiver. Acoustic receivers are essentially “listening stations” whereby the receivers are listening for detections (“pings”) from tagged fish. In this way, as a long as the tagged fish is within the detection range of the receiver, we can determine where each fish was and when. With the generous help and expertise of Muskies Canada Inc. (MCI) Ottawa Chapter anglers, we captured and tagged 15 muskellunge in October 2020 for our overwintering study. Eleven acoustic receivers were deployed, relatively evenly spaced out, in the Eccolands Reach to monitor fish movements. We also deployed two receivers downstream of Black Rapids (into the Mooney’s Bay Reach) to see if fish left the reach by moving over the weir, but none of our tagged muskellunge were detected downstream. Interestingly, all our muskellunge were detected only upstream of the Eccolands boat launch, many of which in November showed upstream movements, potentially in search of the best available winter habitat. 

Several interesting patterns emerged from movement analysis. First, fish moved more so than I anticipated – I expected muskellunge to be detected on the same 1-2 acoustic receivers for the duration of winter, but interestingly most fish were detected consistently across several stations, moving often through habitats across a 1-mile distance. Second, most fish overwintered near tributaries where there were deep areas (4.5-6-metres/15-20-feet). Third, it appears the portion of the river beneath the Vimy Bridge is so shallow that during winter it acts as a potential barrier to winter connectivity; essentially, once ice freezes over in December, if fish were upstream or downstream of the Vimy Bridge then that’s where they were confined to until ice-off in April. To date, it is unclear to what extent winterkill events occur in the Eccolands Reach, or if events are region/site specific. If muskellunge winterkill events are occurring in certain areas upstream or downstream of the Vimy Bridge, providing a connection between those areas could offer a chance for fish to escape. It therefore could be important to increase depths beneath the bridge to allow fish to move freely. Finally, we found that several of the larger, presumably sexually mature, individuals showed increased movements in April. Evaluating spawning movements was not an original objective of our overwintering study, however it may be one of the most important findings. We believe that the increased activities we noted in April are most likely linked with muskellunge pre-spawning movements in search of spawning sites. Parks Canada does not (start to) raise water levels in the Eccolands Reach for the navigation season until early May, so if muskellunge are searching for spawning areas in April when water levels are still low, their reproductive efforts may end up unsuccessful because habitat is still so limited at that time. Fish movements are highly regulated and directed by water temperatures – if it’s a warm spring (muskellunge usually spawn when water temperatures are 9-15°C), spawning has been documented in northern-latitude lakes as early as mid-April. We have not incorporated this data yet as special temperature loggers have just been recently recovered, but we will be carefully inspecting temperature data to see when muskellunge spawning might have commenced this past spring.

We are currently in the process of finalizing data analysis and have been fortunate to collaborate with hydraulic engineers, Parks Canada scientists, researchers, and MCI anglers to ensure we have a thorough understanding of muskellunge spatial ecology. Our goal is to factor in environmental characteristics of the river, like depth and bottom composition (e.g., sand, pebbles, boulders), to determine which areas are most suitable to muskellunge. We will also be evaluating if fish size has any effect on habitat preferences, as it may be that larger fish choose different areas compared to smaller fish. Though we have investigated overwintering of muskellunge in the Rideau Canal, this is only one annual aspect of their spatial ecology; because the winter drawdowns are so considerable in this reach, we felt it was best to quickly evaluate those movements and release that information rapidly. We are, however, tracking muskellunge movements year-round in the Eccolands Reach, and will be doing so until 2023. In the spring of 2021 MCI anglers again donated their time and expertise, and with their efforts to supplement ours, we tagged an additional seven muskellunge (we currently have 23 acoustically tagged muskellunge in the Eccolands Reach). Our aim is to assess other critical habitats used, like spawning habitats, and additionally we know very little about lock connectivity. We also note that protecting habitat and connectivity is only one part of conserving muskellunge; there are several other issues that threaten the local population like water quality and invasive species. We are working with several universities, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, and Parks Canada to evaluate the various threats to species within the Rideau Canal. Investigating muskellunge movements is only component of my PhD research – we are also tracking the movements of several other native and invasive fish species and will be compounding that information with our muskellunge movement data to better understand overall fish connectivity in the Rideau Canal. If you’d like to find out more information about our work, you can check out Dr. Steven Cooke’s Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology website at http://www.fecpl.ca/ or my personal website at https://jordannabergman.wixsite.com/jordannabergman.

We use acoustic telemetry to track fish in the Rideau Canal. Size-specific acoustic tags (top left) are surgically implanted into our study species so that we can monitor their movements year-round. In the Eccolands Reach of the Rideau Canal, we are focusing our efforts towards monitoring the movements of muskellunge. In other parts of the waterway, however, we are also tracking northern pike, largemouth bass, common carp, and round goby. Acoustic receivers (bottom left) are stationed beneath the waters’ surface and are essentially “listening stations” – when a tagged fish swims by one of our receivers, and that tag emits a “ping” with a unique ID and timestamp, the receiver detects and stores that information so we can later determine where each tagged muskellunge was swimming and when. 

Angler and collaborator Luc LaRochelle releases a tagged muskellunge in the Rideau Canal. Note the white tag near the dorsal fin – this way, if an angler catches one of our tagged muskellunge, they can contact us to report where and when they caught their fish (there’s a unique ID # and contact info on the tag). Anglers who report tagged fish are entered in a $200 prize draw, and they also provide critical information about fish movements and health. 
Angler and collaborator Luc LaRochelle releases a tagged muskellunge in the Rideau Canal. Note the white tag near the dorsal fin – this way, if an angler catches one of our tagged muskellunge, they can contact us to report where and when they caught their fish (there’s a unique ID # and contact info on the tag). Anglers who report tagged fish are entered in a $200 prize draw, and they also provide critical information about fish movements and health.
Jordanna Bergman surgically implanting an acoustic tag into a muskellunge. After inserting the tag and suturing the incision, she takes length measurements and externally tags the fish. The entire process takes 3-4-minutes, and fish are quickly released thereafter.

(English) Musky Monday Seminar Series!

Désolé, cet article est seulement disponible en Anglais Canadien.

 

I wanted to share this exciting news from John Anderson at the Ottawa River Musky Factory about this new Seminar series I am excited to be a part of:

Announcing the Musky Monday Seminar Series for 2021
Beginning Tuesday January 5th (because France’s birthday is on Monday the 4th) and every Monday evening after that at 7 pm I will be hosting a live educational event online on the Musky Factory Baits Page.
These evenings will feature a different topic each week and a different special guest to do a presentation, talk muskies, and answer your questions. Behaviour and tactics are at the core of this series with a focus on real world applications to catch more muskies.
Topics and guests so far include:
Tuesday January 5th – Everything Inlines and Spinnerbaits with Mike Spratt from Musky Factory Baits. We will talk construction, materials, action, vibration, colours, repairing your baits, and what makes some baits work so much better than others
Monday January 11th – Musky 101 with Brent Bochek – Brent have given this seminar for Muskies Canada members a number of times including at the last Musky Odyssey. This is an intro level presentation to talk equipment, behavior, and presentation basics.
Monday January 18th – Musky Equipment with JP DeRose – You know JP from countless TV programs. He knows more about fishing equipment specs, construction, and use than anyone I know. We will talk rods, reels, line, leaders, knots, and applying the right equipment at the right times as well as tactics and behavior.
Stay tuned for future seminar topics and guests but here is some of what and who we have lined up for you:
Pete Bowman on over 30 years of filming muskies on Fish’n’ Canada TV
The History of Muskies in Ottawa with Big Jim McGlaughlin.
Everything Jerkbaits with Mike Suick from Suick Lures and Brent Bochek from Setting the Hook TV, and Suicks first ever female pro staffer, Lisa Goodier
Musky Myths Exposed & Outside the Box Tactics with Wally Robins – Jigging and other forgotten gold with a diversely experienced outdoor writer.
Everything Crankbait with Noah Clarke from Clarkey Baits and Brynn Roach from B&R Baits
Soft Plastics – Where, When, Why, How
Using Technology and Reading your Fish Finder with RJ (Rob Jackson)
How Muskies Canada Catches You More Fish and what is in store for MCI nationally and and chapter by chapter for the 2021 season. If you are not a member you will want to be.
Ashley Rae – Multi-species expert, guide, writer, and all around super outdoors woman Ashley Rae takes us into her world.
Musky Research and Sustainable Fishing with Lawrence Gunther from Bluefish Canada – past, present, and future
The Other Ottawa Rivers – The Rideau, The Madawaska, The Gatineau, The Jock, and some surprises too.
The St. Lawrence River – An evaluation of current conditions and populations
More great speakers and topics are in discussion right now. If you have an idea for a guest or a show topic please let us know.
These events are sponsored by:
Musky Factory Baits
Andre Lalonde Marine
Let’s make 2021 our best musky season ever!
Peace,
JA

Enrolez votre famille!

Depuis ses tout débuts la constitution de Muskies Canada précise que la famille d’un membre de Muskies Canada est aussi membre.

Un membre actif est une personne, y compris sa famille: son conjoint et tous les enfants de moins de dix-huit ans vivant dans la même résidence ou qui fréquentent l’école à plein temps;

Cet aspect du membership de Muskies Canada n’a jamais vraiment été mis de l’avant si bien que peu de gens sont au courant. Par ailleurs, jusqu’à maintenant notre système de gestion des membres ne permettait pas de gérer des membres familiaux. 

Or ceci vient de changer. Dorénavant, vous pouvez ajouter votre conjoint ou conjointe et vos enfants comme membres de Muskies Canada et ce gratuitement! Ceux-ci pourront avoir leur propres accès au forum et à la Zone des membres. Ils pourront ainsi entrer leur propre logs et interagir sur les forums de Muskies Canada.

Pour ajouter un membre de votre famille, vous devez vous authentifier dans la Zone des membres et sélectionner Ajouter un membre familiale

De là complétez l’inscription et c’est fait. L’inscription sera aussitôt placée en attente de révision par notre directeur des membres qui l’activera après avoir fait quelques vérifications.

À noter que les membres familiaux expireront en même temps que le membre principale peut importe leur date d’inscription.

À vous d’en profiter et de faire grossir les rangs de Muskies Canada!

(English) Tracking Fish in the Rideau Canal Waterway

Figure 2: PhD student Jordanna Bergman surgically implanting an acoustic transmitter into a northern pike in a waterfilled and padded trough. Photo by Dan Rubinstein.

Désolé, cet article est seulement disponible en Anglais Canadien.

By Jordanna N. Bergman, PhD Student, Carleton University and Steven J. Cooke, Professor, Carleton University

Background

The Rideau Canal Waterway is a 202­ km route of picturesque lakes, rivers, and artificial canals connected by 23 active lockstations and 45 locks. Originally constructed in the mid 1800s to facilitate commercial and military transport between Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River, today the Rideau Canal is almost entirely operated to support recreational, cultural, and economic activities. In fact, the system is so iconic and unique that it received World Heritage Site designation from the United Nations. Managed by Parks Canada, the lock system is used by recreational boaters, canoeists, and kayakers during the navigation season (mid-May to mid­-October) to travel throughout the waterway. With pristine aquatic habitats and one of the most diverse fish communities in Canada, the Rideau Canal is home to first­class fishing and supports an important tourism­based industry for eastern Ontario. Trophy gamefish can be found in the waterway, including Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides and M. dolomieu), Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), and northern pike (Esox lucius).

Figure 1: A black crappie externally marked with an anchor tag (circled in red). Photo by Jordanna N. Bergman.
Figure 1: A black crappie externally marked with an anchor tag (circled in red). Photo by Jordanna N. Bergman.

Have you ever wondered what else might be passing through locks with you beneath the surface? There’s a chance as you travel through a lockstation, fish are travelling right alongside you. Although lockmasters, anglers, and boaters have reported seeing fish inside locks, little is known about fish movement and behaviour related to lock­-and-­dam infrastructure. Do fish purposefully move through locks, or is it accidental? If they do move through locks, to what extent?

Are movements species­-specific and/or seasonally driven? Students in the Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Lab at Carleton University are using acoustic telemetry equipment and generous help from anglers to investigate fish movements and the ecological connectivity of the Rideau Canal Waterway.

Figure 2: PhD student Jordanna Bergman surgically implanting an acoustic transmitter into a northern pike in a waterfilled and padded trough. Photo by Dan Rubinstein.
Figure 2: PhD student Jordanna Bergman surgically implanting an acoustic transmitter into a northern pike in a waterfilled and padded trough. Photo by Dan Rubinstein.

Biotelemetry, the tracking of animals using electronic tags, provides information on movement patterns of wild fish necessary to conservation and management efforts. Acoustic transmitters (i.e. tags) are surgically implanted into focal fish species and emit an underwater sound signal that sends unique identification information about that specific fish to acoustic receivers. Receivers, which are strategically placed beneath the water surface throughout the waterway prior to tagging, receive the sound signals and convert them to digital data that can be used to determine tag positions.

In the summer of 2019, we acoustically tagged 245 fish; these include two gamefish species, largemouth bass and northern pike, and two invasive species, common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) Additional efforts and experimental projects were focused on northern pike given that they are known to travel relatively long distances (up to 8­km daily). The team deployed 90 acoustic receivers throughout the waterway in the spring and in November they will be braving the cold to retrieve them to download data and analyze fish movement patterns.

Another interesting aspect of our acoustic telemetry research involves the inclusion of invasive species. We acoustically tagged both common carp and the recently discovered round goby this past summer. Round Goby are of special concern as they are a newly introduced invasive species to the Rideau Canal. We are hopeful that we may be able to prevent their further spread by understanding, and exploiting, their spatial ecology (when and where a species distributes themselves over time to reside, avoid predation, forage, and for sexually mature individuals, reproduce). Round Goby were first documented in the canal during a scheduled water drawdown in Edmonds Lockstation in Smiths Falls in 2018. The round goby is a small (25­cm max), highly aggressive, bottomdwellingfish that has been observed to predate on the eggs and young of nesting gamefish, appears to contribute to increased incidences of avian botulism, and as a result of competitive exclusion, often displaces native species to suboptimal habitat. Although our team struggled to capture round goby for weeks (a bittersweet sign, as we interpret this to mean population densities are still low) we finally identified a successful capture method using a backpack electrofishing unit. We implanted acoustic tags into 45 Round Goby. Upon retrieval of our acoustic receivers in November, round goby movements will be at the top of the list for analysis.

In addition to the aforementioned electronic tagging studies, we are also conducting an extensive external tagging study to investigate broadscale fish movements in the Rideau Canal. We are striving to tag and release 10,000 fish with external identification tags, also known as anchor tags. Besides a unique ID number, the tag also has contact information (email: carleton.tag@gmail.com and phone number: (613) 520-­2600 x4377) for anglers to report their catches. By partnering with anglers who report their catches of tagged fish, we can compare the original location the fish was tagged to the recapture location, and importantly, determine if that fish passed through any barriers (e.g. locks, dams) to adjacent water bodies. To date, we have tagged approximately 4,500 fish and will continue to tag fish until we reach our goal. Tagged fish species include Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Bullhead (Ictalurus spp.), Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens), Walleye (Stizostedium vitreum), Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush), White Sucker (Catastomus commersoni), Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio), and Muskellunge. To date, 171 fish have been recaptured as of October 2019, none of which were recaptured in canal reaches other than where they were initially tagged.

Figure 3: Dr. Cooke's students ready to externally tag incoming bass at a Bass Anglers Association tournament. LR: Auston Chhor, Alexandria Trahan, Brenna Gagliardi.
Figure 3: Dr. Cooke’s students ready to externally tag incoming bass at a Bass Anglers Association tournament. LR: Auston Chhor, Alexandria Trahan, Brenna Gagliardi.

Over the next three years our team will continue working towards meeting the objective of tagging 10,000 fish and acoustically tagging a variety of fish species. By analyzing acoustic telemetry data in conjunction with angler­recapture data, we hope to better understand fish connectivity in the Rideau Canal Waterway and use that information to support economically important gamefish and simultaneously minimize invasive species impacts. If you are curious to learn more about our research, or see a video of how fish are tagged, you can check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Cook eFECPL/ or visit our lab website at http://www.fecpl.ca/

(English) Evaluating Whether Carbonated Beverages Reduce Bleeding and Improve Survival of Esocids with Gill Injuries

Image 2. Comparing gill colour of a northern pike against a standardized scale.

Désolé, cet article est seulement disponible en Anglais Canadien.

By Alexandria Trahan1, John Anderson1, Andy J. Danylchuk3 and Steven J. Cooke1

1 Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology and Institute of Environmental and Interdisciplinary Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6, Canada

2 The Ottawa River Musky Factory, John Anderson, The Ottawa River Musky Factory 106 County Road 9, Plantagenet, Ontario, Canada, K0B 1L0, Canada.

3 Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 160 Holdsworth Way, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA

Autumn skies are upon us and musky are in a flurry to fatten up before winter hits. As you enjoy the time on the water with a stick bait trailing behind the boat, SLAM….your heart is now pounding as you fight that prized Muskie and successfully get it to the boat. Upon landing you notice that one of the gills was nicked by a hook, and the water around the fish is stained with blood. All you can think is, now what? Will the fish survive or is there a way to stop the bleeding? You then recall seeing a video online that went viral not long, showing Mountain Dew being poured over the gills of a bass to stop bleeding. As you look to your cooler for something even close to Mountain Dew, you then also remember the discussion and debate online by anglers, writers and scientists, with some arguing that this is indeed an approach that should be embraced, while others urging caution since no scientific study has been done yet evaluating whether carbonated beverages control bleeding and improve the survival of injured fish. With no resolve, you do the best you can with this particular musky, and end your day hoping that this debate would soon be effectively put to rest.

This is where we come in. For the past few months we have been systematically testing whether a bleeding fish should have a carbonated beverage poured over bleeding gills following capture on hook and line. Although we had hoped to work on Muskies, given their rarity and size, we selected its sister species – northern pike – for the research. Given that we test this on live fish, we first needed to demonstrate that our science had valid purpose, and that our proposed procedures were in line with criteria laid out by the Canadian Council on Animal Care. Specific to our study design was experimentally injuring gills of fish by cutting out a standardized portion of gill filaments from a gill arch (see Image 1), and then pouring a selection of carbonated liquids over the gills to see if the bleeding stopped and for how long (details below).

Image 1: Piece of a gill removed from a northern pike.
Image 1: Piece of a gill removed from a northern pike.

What helped us get approval was that our research would resolve the frantic online debate, as well as provide evidence as to whether pouring carbonated beverages over bleeding gills would improve the outcome for an injured fish if it had to be released.

With a scientific collection permit in hand from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, it was time to start with the systematic and controlled evaluation of this longstanding questions. As with any systematic, scientific study, we had to consider and control for as many factors as possible, including water temperature, the size of the fish, and the type, amount, and temperature of carbonated beverage to be poured on the fish’s gills. Given that water temperature has a dramatic effect on the biology of fish, we opted to focus on late spring conditions when water temperature was between 11­-18 C, and late summer when the temperature was 24­-27 C. To then determine what type of carbonated beverage to use, we explored the different social media platforms that revealed the most common beverage being used by anglers on fish – that being Mountain Dew and Coca Cola. We also used plain carbonated lake water as a third liquid to be poured over bleeding gills, allowing us to test whether the additives in the soft drinks made a difference or it was just carbonation. For additional scientific rigor, we included two additional groups ­ one ‘reference’ group where the fish’s gills were cut but nothing was poured on the wound, and the other being a ‘baseline’ group where nothing was done to the fish (it was simply held in a cooler for the same sampling period as the other fish).

For the experiment, fish were angled, landed, and placed into a trough filled with lake water. Fish were then measured and had their gill colour compared to a standardized scale (see Image 2), prior to being selected for one of the five groups mentioned above. Gill colour was recorded because it is relative to the amount of blood loss, with gills full of blood (most common) being bright red, and gills with lower and lower blood flow progressively lighter and lighter, to almost becoming white if fish bleed out.

Image 2. Comparing gill colour of a northern pike against a standardized scale.
Image 2. Comparing gill colour of a northern pike against a standardized scale.

For groups where gill tissue was removed, fish were individually placed in a cooler, and evaluated for relative bleeding intensity and the time it took for bleeding to stop. Relative bleeding intensity was based on the following scale: 0, no bleeding; 1, little bleeding, hard to see; 2, obviously bleeding, easy to see; and 3, intense bleeding, pulsatile blood flow. For the ‘popped’ or carbonated lake water groups, we recorded bleeding intensity immediately before and after a set volume of liquid poured directly onto the wounded gills. This would help us evaluate claims online suggesting that carbonated beverages reduced the amount of the blood loss. For all fish, additional bleeding values were recorded at range of intervals during a 20­-minute holding period. After 20 minutes of holding the vigour and condition of the fish was recorded, and fish that were not moribund were released. To test whether the temperature of the pop makes a difference, we repeated the above series of experiments comparing how bleeding is affected by Mountain Dew at both 4 C (as if the pop just came out of an ice­filled cooler) to 2 C (as if the pop had been sitting in a can in a koozie on the console of the boat for a few hours). We stuck to Mountain Dew for this experiment since it was the most common beverage being used in the videos online.

For both experiments combined we caught and evaluated over 200 northern pike. We are still analyzing the data to determine whether the different carbonated beverage treatments had an effect on bleeding. Stay tuned for more details and whether you are best to keep the carbonated beverages for yourself or to share them with your fish.