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AWH

Facts About Muskies

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AWH

I am posting this in regards to the request for "facts" on muskies in the "Poor Gull Lake" post. I am actually just going to cut and paste what I posted on this exact topic back in July under a post of the same title. If/when I have more time later I will dig around and provide more information that's out there....

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.

Aaron

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musky_tail05

Interesting info. Thanks for posting Aaron!

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Bluegill1510

Thanks Aaron, this is exactly what I was looking for as for concrete facts and research done by the DNR. Thanks again for the posting of research Aaron, it had some eye opening facts.

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JConrad

Aaron, thanks for posting... this is very interesting and I will look at further. Really helps me since as I stated in my other post that I am on the "fence" with regard to stocking Gull and need facts.. I am very open minded with regard to change, but I also like to understand the facts, benefits, negatives, etc. before I get behind something so important.. I care greatly about Gull Lake and our MN lakes..

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AWH

Joel,

Glad I can help with providing some information. Gull Lake is a tremendous fishery and I think everyone wants what's best for the lake. The DNR really has been working hard with a lot of different groups to help get the facts out there. Positive, negative, whatever it might be, we're all better off for being educated. I sincerely wish more people would be like yourself and look to gather the facts before jumping on the bandwagon of either side of that proverbial fence. There's no doubt that you're one that puts the fishery first based on your concerns that you've raised for the lake in terms of development and your willingness to lead by example there as well. Thanks for caring!

Aaron

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Lund 95

That some great reading! Hopefully alot of people actually "comprehend" the facts and not just play armchair biologist like usual...

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mrklean

Thats some great reading, thanks i enjoyed it

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B420

Thanks for the facts Aaron!

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