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AWH

Facts About Muskies

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AWH

Rather than post this on the “Gull Lake Muskies” topic, I wanted to make this its own post. This information is too important for it to get lost in the middle of another topic.

Since the whole proposal to stock muskies in Gull Lake came about, the DNR has been under a lot of pressure to do “more studies” and “provide more facts”. It has seemed that no matter how much information is brought forward that it’s never enough. Hopefully this changes some of that mentality.

The MN DNR has been working feverishly to find and provide some hard facts on diet, stocking effects and the overall impact that muskies have on lakes before and after the introduction of this top of the line predator. Here are some of their observations and research. Please take a moment to read and open your mind to these new and ground breaking findings. The good news is they are going to be spending even more time and effort to gain more knowledge and get the FACTS out to all concerned interests.

Muskie’s diets were found to contain very few species of fish that may be of concern to Anglers. Bozek (1999) investigated 34 Northern Wisconsin lakes through the spring, summer and fall. Yellow Perch and White Sucker were the primary diet with crayfish a bigger part of the diet than Walleye, despite being abundant on many of the lakes. Muskies actually eat more small Muskies than Walleye.

Muskies once thought to have extreme negative effects on Pike and Walleyes were studied by Fayram in 2005. Evaluating evidence of predation and competition between several species of fish including Walleye, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass and Muskie, the findings came to a shock to some but were confirmed beliefs of many that fish lakes like Mille Lacs and Vermilion. In the study lakes the only fish that had a negative effect were the Largemouth Bass negatively effecting the abundance of adult Walleye during electro fishing studies. The Muskie electro fishing effort showed that Muskies have a positive effect on the numbers of adult Walleye, stating competition between these fish was unlikely.

Muskies are now being actively stocked in 41 MN lakes by the MN DNR. Their findings were focused on 7 species and lake classes and here are the results. Keep in mind that this data is from all 41 of these lakes dating back to before muskies were stocked.

Northern Pike numbers declined in 3 individual lakes and increased on 2 with the weight of fish being no different across the state. The distribution of fish per netting or trap was similar to years before the Muskie was introduced.

Walleye Numbers increased on 9 individual lakes and declined on 2, with a lack of year class stocking being sited in 1 of these lakes. The average weight was not any different statewide.

Yellow Perch numbers increased on 3 lakes, with no significant decreases and no difference statewide, with distributions of fish similar to before stocking.

Bluegill numbers increased on 2 lakes and showed no significant decline or statewide trends.

White Sucker numbers declined on 4 lakes and increased on 1, with no significant statewide or lake class trends.

Black Crappie numbers increased on 2 lakes in gill nets and showed no difference in trap nets. Post stocking numbers were within or above in comparison with lake classes.

Tullibee showed no differences at any level before or after stocking.

Therefore, the lack of any constant trends across any of these species’ lakes or lake classes combined with the fact that most of these lakes were considered above the average for their lake class and within the range expected suggests that Muskie coexist and have coexisted very well in these types of lakes and at the densities that the MN DNR Manages its Muskellunge program.

References for the above stated information…

Bozek,M.A. T.M. Burri, and R.V. Frie. 1999. Diets of Muskellunge in Northern Wisconsin lakes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 19:258-270

Fayram A.H., M.J. Hansen, and T.J. Ehlinger. 2005. Interactions between Walleyes and Four Fish Species with Implications to Walleye Stocking. North American Journal of Fisheries Management25:1321-1330

MN DNR Preliminary Stocking Data 66-0038-00. 2007.

Fish Community Response to Muskie Introduction, MN DNR M.Knapp., S.Mero, and D. Bohlander. 2007.

For those that have asked for more studies and more information, the above should be a great start. You can’t ask for much more than studying every lake in the state that is currently managed for muskies. That’s where those figures came from. Thanks to Muskiefool (who posts on Fishing Minnesota occasionally) for providing me with the above information. He has been actively involved with the DNR in helping to educate the public on the many facts that are out there but are often missed by the vast majority of the public for various reasons.

Aaron

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MUSKY18

Thanks for posting that Aaron. It is some really valuable information for folks that didn't already know it or think that Musky's just chow on everything in the lake. Can't be much more straight forward than that data is. Hope this helps the stocking effort go ahead.

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CaptainMusky

Thanks Aaron! The information just pretty much confirms what most musky anglers already know, but hopefully it will help those outside the "musky community" with questions.

Aside from data which is referenced here, many of the frequenters have fished Mille Lacs for years. I don't think that anyone will argue that the walleye and smallmouth populations in Mille Lacs are thriving right now. This is all occuring while the musky population is at its highest level ever and the level it probably will never reach again. So, if the lake is doing so well for those species, one could surmise that muskies are not having a negative effect.

I am biased since I want more lakes to fish. I think Gull would be an excellent choice for various reasons, but I also want others to have the opportunity to help them feel more confortable with the decision, should it go the way I hope it does.

The last thing I want is tons of opposition, etc if they are stocked.

Unfortunately for some people no amount of data will help them come to a different conclusion. I know many people that would say the sky is green, no matter how much data I could provide them and proof that it is not. You just hope to "convert" a few of them over.

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dippydawg

I don't know??? Any taxidermist that mounts a fair number of muskies should be able to tell you the diet of the trophy sized fish... ofcourse, what a 2 pound muskie dines on is going too probably be much different then that of a 50 pound muskie. I have seen ducks get eaten LOLOLOLOL

Gull has enough food for the muskies,this we do know!!

When it comes to fish My guess is the diet will be whatever is most available.. For example: In a stocked rainbow trout lake that has many 20 pound plus northerns it would stand to reason that those fish feed on trout,correct!!

Where I fish trophy muskies they seem to most often show up in the same places that you would expect to catch a small northern or bass..etc!!! Places where the minnows like to school which causes smaller fish to school and then ultimately the bigger fish show up as well and there all there for the same reasons,dinner!! just my observations!

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