Guests - If You want access to member only forums on FM. You will gain access only when you Sign-in or Sign-Up on Fishing Minnesota.

It's easy - LOOK UPPER right menu.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Big Julie

Muskie stocking in Gull Lake!?

139 posts in this topic

Hey Brainerd anglers,

I just read in the Mpls. Trib. they have a plan to stock muskies in Gull.

I would be interested if you walleye anglers would watch something that has (possibly) taken place on Miltona...

The walleyes are no longer on the breaks from 20-30 feet like they were in the fall, instead going waaaaayyyyy down deep into the deepest holes from 60-90 feet.

There is substantial speculation that the pressure from the muskies pushing them off the breaks.

I realize this is conjecture, but I would be really interested in your observations from the last dozen years compared to the next ten.

Have any of you folks who have fished Miltona for both muskies and walleyes heard of this or experienced it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have a clue. Muskies have not changed the habits in other lakes like Mille Lacs, Leech, Cass etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Caught a 40" pike in the same location that I caught a 15" walleye on Gull. And there are alot of big pike in gull!

Don't worry about the muskies, the walleye fishing will always be good in Gull!

Boy it really screwed up Mille Lacs! grin.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All of the top "walleye: lakes in the state tend to have the best muskie fishing. How can that be if the 'ski's eat all the walleyes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Big Julie, are you just trying to stir the pot??

Or have all the Miltona Myths sunk into your skull???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't expect the walleye population on Gull Lake to suffer at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has there been any efforts in the past to stock a managed walleye lake that is the size of Gull or smaller? I am just curious. I know that it is always mentioned that lakes such as Mille Lacs, Cass and such bigger waters do not feel any repurcusions from muskie stocking.

Jason Erlandson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quote:

Has there been any efforts in the past to stock a managed walleye lake that is the size of Gull or smaller? I am just curious. I know that it is always mentioned that lakes such as Mille Lacs, Cass and such bigger waters do not feel any repurcusions from muskie stocking.

Jason Erlandson


Aren't all lakes "managed" for walleyes in MN? I am kidding of course, but almost every lake that has been stocked with muskies receives regular stocking of walleyes as well and did so before muskies were introduced. Lakes like Alexander, Shamineau, Cedar, granted are smaller than Gull, but all are managed for walleyes. Muskies actually have a disadvantage in lakes with prevalent walleye and pike populations since the YOY pike and walleyes will feed on the YOY muskies due to them spawning much later.

The walleyes, bass and panfish are thriving in Alexander, Shamineau, etc. The DNR has noticed some of their best numbers over the last 10 years on Alex for all game species. This doesn't necessarily mean that muskies made the lake better, but it definitely didn't decimate it either.

Walleyes eat more walleyes than muskies eat walleyes. Gull will have another trophy fish option if muskies are introduced.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm am not totally sold either way on this issue, but I do have my concerns. I believe lakes are cyclical and do take care of themselves. I believe that there is an abundance of walleyes in Gull at this point in time. I also believe that the forage base has been heavily diminished. If this is the case for a few years to come, what will the muskies eat if the forage base is lower than normal? Does it pay dividends to continue a heavy walleye stocking and a muskie stocking program at the same time?

I also think comparing Gull and Alexander are apples and oranges. Gull is one of the top 5 walleye fisheries in the state year in and year out. Walleye numbers far exceed any other lake that has been put through a muskie stocking program such as this to my knowledge.

I also have concerns that muskie stocking not only affects Gull Lake. What about lakes such as North Long, Round, and the Cullen Chain. In high water years all of the these lakes will be available for the Muskies.

Jason Erlandson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does Gull's walleye numbers exceed Mille Lacs? I have fished Mille Lacs for many years and it seems to just get better. As does the muskie fishing.

I remember a post on the muskie forum earlier this summer about what muskies will eat.Someone brought up a scientific study that was published. I know the study stated that a muskie will eat more muskies and northerns than walleyes. I can't seem to find that discussion. Anyone else know what I am talking about?

But it may affect gull differently if the forage base is extremely low.

My 2 cents.

Mysterio

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure Jason. You're right, though, it would be good information to know.

It will be interesting to see what happens long-term but my "gut" says everything will be fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was hired to do the DNR creel survey in the late 90's, I believe the study we used to respond to people with issues about the Alexander musky stockings were from a branch of the University of Wisconsin. It showed the prey species selected by muskies through examining stomach contents of numerous fish from numerous (and varying sized) systems. Like commonly described, it had the majority of prey being soft spined fish like suckers, and in some lakes perch were common. I do remember that the study found more muskies were eaten than walleyes( which were in very small numbers). So they showed in there study that they were more likely to eat their own kind than walleyes.

I don't think a 50" predator (muskies) is going to affect the walleye population anymore than a 40" predator (northerns).

Jason, if Lake Alexander had the same guide pressure, tourism, and water clarity as Gull, you'd think differently of it. From the DNR net pulls, and just simply spotlighting its shallows at night, you can see it has a VERY healthy population of Walleyes. I think they are just harder to catch, and since the average angler doesn't fish clear water properly, only the locals are on to the deep and night patterns in Alex.

Anyway I guess my opinion is that while the publics opinion is very important to the management of our lakes, I don't think it should be the only factor. I can only feel confident in my opinion when I base it on the scientific facts I've obtained and heard from unbiased fisheries biologists and professors in the field of Ichthyology. Us fishermen are usually biased whether we admit it or not...

I think another great sport fish would be great on the Gull Lake Chain. Thats coming from a former Musky nut and current Walleye nut.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually would prefer it if the Muskies did thin out the eye' population on Gull. I know that there are a lot of fish in there, but does that make it a healthy population? I stopped fishing there because of the fact, that there were so many fish, and rarely were any of them big enough to make it worth while. You can talk about numbers till the cows come home, but you can catch just as many if not more big walleyes on other area lakes. Bring on the skies'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

they have always done that on miltona...... way before muskies were there - when the lake gets hot the fish go deep - real deep - pulled many a walleye out of 40+ feet of water on none muskie lakes. the walleyes are going to do there thing weather there are muskies around or not - just ask any walleye troller on mille lacs in the fall - there all in the same spots feeding on the same things - and its not walleyes

its been studied to death and talked about to death but everytime a new lake is looked at for muskie stocking programs everybody freaks out about the walleyes. then every study in the world is relooked at cause "this lake is different the those other walleye lakes". it will go on and on and on and on and on......... its kinda like the Bush debate - well something changed for the worse it must be the muskies fault.

for a change lets blame large mouth bass - those dang things keep eating all the walleyes and baitfish. or how about bullheads - they look ugly so they must be bad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Slightly different in size and water quality of lakes, but both Rush (Rush City) and Bald Eagle (White Bear area) have big muskies and are quite well known in metro area as major muskie lakes. We have consistently caught both numbers and good size, and small size, walleye on both. (Actually haven't been to rush in a couple years)

But it sure seems that the muskies and walleye live just fine in these smaller lakes. I haven't fished Gull, but plan to as we are inthe area quite a bit in the summer. Just got to North Long for first time - was interesting lake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will admit that I am biased. I have been hoping for Muskies in the Gull Chain for 20 years. If there is some hard data that shows Muskies are bad for the lake I will change my mind until then bring them on. Growing up in Brainerd and still having family on Gull Lake I can not wait.

I do have a question though, once stocking starts (if it does) how long does it take to build a fishable population? I was trying to remember back to when Muskies were first stocked in Mille Lacs and I can not think when it was started. Does it take 10 years, 20 years to build up a Musky fishery?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not totally disagree with the scientific results that muskie advocates use when talking about establishing a new muskie lake. The issue that I see is that the results are all from short term research. There are no long terms results of muskie studies 30 plus years. Musky advocates always preach that there are no results that show a harmful effect. But with such few results over the years how can you prove the benifits to the fishery. Stomach contents will vary according to what is available in the lake. Fish will eat what they need to eat to survive.

Mille Lacs is the worlds best lake for natural reproduction so it is hard to compare Gull and Mille Lacs.

I haven't talked to everyone, but I'd say that 95 percent of the folks that I have talked to in the store are opposed to such action. I hope that there will be equal represention at the input meetings. I also hope that the DNR hasn't already decided what they will be doing prior to the input meeting.

Jason Erlandson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As both a walleye and muskie nut, I think they would be great addition to the lake. I love the old bar room biology that the muskies eat all the walleye. What do guides and their clients eat? THEY EAT WALLEYE! I know most of the guides are putting back the 20"+ fish, and I applaud them for that. I think it is a little hypocritical to say that the muskies are going eat all the walleye when you have numerous guides taking fish out of the system on a DAILY basis. When walleye are hard to catch in the summer people want to blame muskies or the DNR for not stocking enough, etc. Fish have fins and they move! The aren't going to be in 8-12' all year like they are during the opener. In ciscoe based lakes (gull lake has ciscoes) a portion of the walleye population suspends right with the ciscoe all summer and eat like little piggies, but few guys have the balls the troll a rapala 10ft. down over 40-90' of water. I do the open water trolling thing and crush the walleye from Mille Lacs to the longville lakes area. I was very skeptical at first but when I started getting 20-28" walleyes on a regular basis I changed my tune pretty quick. The old addage that pike "lose thier teeth" during the summer and don't bite is another great one. Apparently on the lakes I fish they have a dentist cause we get big, fat pike in the summer that are full of ciscoes. Before the blame gets directed at muskies study the information a little bit so you have a basis for your decision. Heck, I may keep some walleye one of these days when I can find out where those little one are hiding!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok so is there any concrete evidence that muskies have hurt the walleye population on any lake? I work at a local retail store in the fishing dept. and I would disagree 100% that 95% of people are against muskie stocking in Gull. It is definatly not 100% for it either. I would say close to 50-50. I have yet to hear anyone call for the banning of guide services on Gull. I imagine that people fishing with a guide and or guides themselves are responsible for just as many walleye deaths as any muskie population could possibly be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

of those 95% that are opposed - what are there reasons? would you say the most common answer is the affect on the walleye population? now where do these poeple get there opions? studies that back-up the "fact" that there is an affect? curious what other reasons you have herd

i have never seen a true study showing a negative affect - could you point me in the direction of one?

i think the best example of a 30 year study would be lake harriet or tonka - there the only lakes around that have been stocked that long with muskies - both are fantastic walleye lakes. but i cannot think of any long term study that has been done on either lake -

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These are just generalized numbers. Most of the anglers that we see on the lakes are tourist anglers. They are on the lake most days with families and friends. Most are in love with catching fish of any type but the holy grail is always a walleye. The idea of creating a trophy fishery isn't for the average fisherman. It is built for trophy hunters. A small number of fish with great size. That isn't set up for the novice in which most of our summertime anglers are. More than likely it is the type of customer that our store caters to. We have a large group of walleye/summertime anglers. That oppinion would change if we had more Muskie anglers.

I just wish that there was more concrete evidence. It seems like a revolving door in the pro/con argument on the muskie stocking issue. The arguments are always the same. There never seems to be any new evidence.

Jason Erlandson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Plus Mille Lacs, a 20 minute drive from here, is one of the best trophy lakes in the world. Where does it stop? Do we need to stock all of the lakes to make the minority of Muskie anglers happy?

Also is there a back-up plan if there is a problem. Just a hypathetical situation. If the muskies take hold and have an affect on the walleyes, what will be the plan to correct the situation?

Jason Erlandson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You wanted the "concrete evidence" here she be. I guess I would trust these more than the saturday night crowd at Zorbaz or Ernies! I don't know how many more studies by qualified biologist it will take to show people that they are not specifically targeting walleye. I have this study in PDF format for anybody who wants it via email.

258

North American Journal of Fisheries Management 19:258–270, 1999

q Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 1999

Diets of Muskellunge in Northern Wisconsin Lakes

MICHAEL A. BOZEK AND THOMAS M. BURRI*1

Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit,2 College of Natural Resources,

University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin 54481, USA

RICHARD V. FRIE3

College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point,

Stevens Point, Wisconsin 54481, USA

Abstract.—The muskellunge Esox masquinongy is an important sport fish in Wisconsin and

elsewhere, but more information about its diet is needed to better understand its role in aquatic

systems and its effects on other fish. Stomach contents were examined for 1,092 muskellunge

(226–1,180 mm total length, TL) captured in the littoral zone from 34 Wisconsin water bodies

from July 1991 to October 1994. Food occurred in 34.3% (N 5 375) of the stomachs, with most

(74%) containing a single item. Overall, the proportion of muskellunge with food differed significantly

among seasons, with the greatest proportion occurring in fall (69.0%), followed by

summer (53.5%) and then spring (25.4%). Prey items consisted of 547 fish, representing 12 families

and 31 species, along with 35 nonfish items; fish composed 98% of the diet. Relative importance

values of diet items varied by taxa, season, and water body, but the main food items eaten by

muskellunge in each season were yellow perch Perca flavescens and white sucker Catostomous

commersoni. Black basses Micropterus spp., northern pike Esox lucius, walleye Stizostedion vitreum,

cyprinids, and other taxa were less common in the diet. Prey fish ranged in size from 6% to 47%

of muskellunge total length and prey length increased significantly as muskellunge size increased.

Yet the size of prey in proportion to muskellunge size remained the same for all sizes of muskellunge.

The results of this study indicate that, if readily available, yellow perch and catostomids

will compose a large proportion of the muskellunge diet. Additional studies assessing muskellunge

diet among lakes having different prey community types and assessing diet in deeper offshore

areas of lakes are needed to better understand the role that muskellunge play in aquatic communities.

Muskellunge Esox masquinongy are ecologically

important to aquatic systems (Mooradian and

Shepherd 1973; Belusz and Witter 1986; Hanson

1986; Smith 1996) and their fisheries are economically

important to communities near them. Because

of their increasing popularity, the range of

the muskellunge is being expanded in North America

as many states and provinces introduce muskellunge

to new water bodies and initiate more

intensive stocking programs (Crossman 1978; Ragan

et al. 1986). However, some fisheries personnel

and sport anglers are concerned that the introduction

of muskellunge to new waters and additional

supplemental stocking of lakes where muskellunge

fisheries already exist, particularly where

* Corresponding author: neswi@itol.com

1 Present address: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,

392 Highway 11 E, International Falls, Minnesota

56649, USA.

2 The U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division;

the Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research

Unit; the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point; and

the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources cooperating.

3 Deceased.

oversaturation stocking or ‘‘cramming’’ occurs,

may negatively affect other sport fish (Crossman

1986; Ragan et al. 1986; Seelbach 1988).

Although the muskellunge is an important sport

fish in Wisconsin and elsewhere, more information

about its food habits is needed to better understand

its role in aquatic systems and its effects on other

fish species. Limited diet studies on muskellunge

have been conducted (Hourston 1952; Krska and

Applegate 1982; Deutsch 1986), but sample sizes

have been small, and generally only smaller muskellunge

were sampled. These studies have shown

muskellunge to be primarily piscivorous, although

they are opportunistic feeders that eat a variety of

prey, from aquatic insects to fish to small mammals.

Moreover, ontogenetic shifts in diet occur as

age-0 fish shift from zooplankton and invertebrate

prey to cyprinids and later to larger prey (MacKay

and Werner 1934; Elson 1940; Muir 1960). Catostomids,

cyprinids, and percids have been reported

to be important foods of muskellunge

(Hourston 1952; Krska and Applegate 1982;

Deutsch 1986), yet in waters beyond the native

range of the muskellunge, (e.g., southern reservoirs)

gizzard shad Dorosoma cepedianum and

MUSKELLUNGE DIETS 259

common carp Cyprinus carpio are also known prey

items (Vasey 1972; Axon 1981; Kinman 1989).

Comprehensive studies of muskellunge diet

have been hampered by a variety of difficulties

that stem from the problem of obtaining adequate

numbers of samples. Muskellunge usually occur

at low densities, are dispersed over large areas,

often have empty stomachs, and are difficult to

handle. Muskellunge are usually considered too

valuable to kill for removal of stomach contents,

and agency personnel often are reluctant to remove

stomach contents from live fish for fear of injuring

the fish (Deutsch 1986; Ragan et al. 1986; Kinman

1989). Thus, fisheries personnel have indicated

that more studies are needed to determine the diet

of muskellunge and the effects of the species on

other fishes (Ragan et al. 1986). The objective of

this study was to determine the diet of muskellunge

in a suite of water bodies across northern Wisconsin

during spring, summer, and fall and to assess

any patterns of prey consumption.

Methods

Muskellunge were collected from 34 water bodies

in Wisconsin from July 1991 to October 1994

to determine their diet. The lakes were predominantly

in the northern third of the state and included

those scheduled for routine assessments by

the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Study lakes contained diverse assemblages of prey

and a wide range of muskellunge densities (Tonn

and Magnuson 1982).

Data collection and analyses were stratified into

spring (April and May), summer (June, July, and

August), and fall (September and October) periods.

Fyke netting, electrofishing, and angling were

the primary methods used to collect muskellunge.

Fyke nets were fished from ice-out until after the

peak of spawning in spring and occasionally during

summer fish removal projects. The fyke nets

(13–38-mm stretched mesh) were fished with leads

perpendicular to shore. All fish were removed once

daily to minimize postcapture digestion and feeding

while captured. After peak spawning until sampling

ceased in October, muskellunge were caught

using electrofishing boats operating with 175–425

V, 1–4 A of AC and two dippers. Electrofishing

was conducted along the 1-m depth contour of

water bodies where muskellunge could be effectively

dipped. A rate of speed higher than idling

speed was used during electrofishing to compensate

for avoidance behavior that is common among

esocids. Electrofishing usually began at dusk and

ended after one trip around the entire shoreline.

Additional boats were used on large lakes so that

the entire shoreline could be electrofished in one

night. Although electrofishing may cause regurgitation

in fish (Bowen 1983), this was not observed

during this study.

Muskellunge were measured to the nearest 0.5

cm total length (TL), stomach contents were removed

by flushing with a pump, and the fish were

then released. Muskellunge were restrained in a

1.0-m by 0.4-m cradle with 1.0-cm stretched-mesh

netting during stomach flushing. One person restrained

the muskellunge and massaged the stomach

to maneuver food items anteriorly in the stomach

cavity. The pump used for flushing stomachs

was a modification of the one described by Crossman

and Hamilton (1978; see Burri 1997). A copper

probe used for insertion into stomachs was

affixed to a bilge pump powered by a 12-V battery.

Stomach contents were first flushed into a 25-cm

by 18-cm aquarium net of 2-mm stretched mesh,

and then the stomach was examined for residual

prey items. On four occasions, we also used tubes

similar to those described by Van Den Avyle and

Roussel (1980) to visually identify and estimate

size of food items not removable by flushing.

Food items were identified in the field to the

greatest level of taxonomic resolution possible,

grouped into taxonomic categories for analyses

(Table 1), and measured to the nearest millimeter

(TL for fish). Stomach contents that were difficult

to identify were labeled, frozen in separate containers

filled with water, and brought to the laboratory

for identification using taxonomic keys

(Hilsenhoff 1981; Becker 1983; Pennak 1989;

Oates et al. 1993).

In the laboratory, whole food items were thawed

and blotted dry, and volume was determined by

water displacement. Fish specimens from the University

of Wisconsin–Stevens Point Ichthyological

Museum were used to estimate initial volume for

diet items that were partially digested. For prey

fish where neither weight nor volume was measured,

length–weight regression equations from

Carlander (1969, 1977) were used to estimate volume.

The mean of the five length–weight regression

equations (i.e., coefficients were averaged)

having the largest sample sizes in Carlander (1969,

1977) was used to develop a single equation for

each food type, which was then used to estimate

weights from known lengths (Table 2). When there

were fewer than five length–weight regression

equations for a given species, all available equations

were averaged. Weight was converted to volume

(mL) on the assumption that 1 g of diet dis260

BOZEK ET AL.

TABLE 1.—Scientific and common names of muskellunge prey classified into categories that were used in diet analyses.

Prey

category Common name Scientific name

Catostomidae White sucker

Northern hog sucker

Shorthead redhorse

Catostomus commersoni

Hypentelium nigricans

Moxostoma macrolepidotum

Cyprinidae Common shiner

Hornyhead chub

Golden shiner

Bigmouth shiner

Blacknose shiner

Blacknose dace

Longnose dace

Creek chub

Unidentifiable

Luxilus cornutus

Nocomis biguttatus

Notemigonus crysoleucas

Notropis dorsalis

Notropis heterolepis

Rhinichthys atratulus

Rhinichthys cataractae

Semotilus atromaculatus

Cyprinidae

Yellow perch Yellow perch Perca flavescens

Lepomis spp. Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus

Bluegill

Unidentifiable

Lepomis macrochirus

Lepomis spp.

Pomoxis spp. Black crappie

Unidentifiable

Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Pomoxis spp.

Rock bass Rock bass Ambloplites rupestris

Micropterus spp. Smallmouth bass

Largemouth bass

Unidentifiable

Micropterus dolomieu

Micropterus salmoides

Micropterus spp.

Walleye Walleye Stizostedion vitreum

Cisco Cisco Coregonus artedi

Sculpin Mottled sculpin Cottus bairdi

Stickleback Ninespine stickleback Pungitius pungitius

Mudminnow Central mudminnow Umbra limi

Darter Iowa darter

Johnny darter

Unidentifiable

Logperch

Etheostoma exile

Etheostoma nigrum

Etheostoma spp.

Percina caprodes

Esocidae Northern pike

Muskellunge

Unidentifiable

Esox lucius

Esox masquinongy

Esox spp.

Bullhead Black bullhead Ameiurus melas

Trout-perch Trout-perch Percopsis omiscomaycus

Common carp Common carp Cyprinus carpio

Unidentified fish Unidentifiable to any taxon

Crayfish Rusty crayfish

Virile crayfish

Orconectes rusticus

Orconectes virilis

Aquatic insect Dragonfly

Stonefly

Epitheca spp.

Plecoptera

Frog

Mudpuppy

Tadpole

Mouse

Unidentifiable

Mudpuppy

Unidentifiable

Unidentifiable

Ranidae

Necturus maculosus

Ranidae

Rodentia

places 1 cm3 of water. Although this technique

may underestimate volume slightly, we considered

the error negligible. Because data for yellow perch

were not found in Carlander (1969, 1977), length–

volume regression equations were developed from

data collected in this study: loge(volume)524.84

1 3.038 loge(TL, cm). For some unidentifiable

food items where length was not measured, we

assigned volume as the mean volume calculated

from all other unidentifiable fish measured of that

size.

We used percent frequency of occurrence of

each taxon, percent of total number of diet items

per taxon, and percent total volume of each taxa

to analyze data from muskellunge stomachs. To

reduce biases yet produce a single measure of diet

(Windell 1971), a relative importance (RI) index

was also calculated for each for each food type

(George and Hadley 1979). We modified the index

by substituting percentage of total volume for percentage

of total weight:

n

RI 5 (100 3 AI ) O AI , a a@ a a51

MUSKELLUNGE DIETS 261

TABLE 2.—Equations used to convert prey total length (TL, mm) to weight (W, g) or volume (V, mL) and the source

used to derive equations. The equation for yellow perch was developed using data from this study.

Prey species Equation

Number of

equations used

Equation from this study

Yellow perch logeV 5 24.84 1 3.0380 logeTL

Equations from Carlander (1997)

Largemouth bass

Smallmouth bass

Bluegill

Rock bass

Black crappie

log10 W 5 25.215 1 3.140 log TL

log10 W 5 24.758 1 3.007 log TL

log10 W 5 25.286 1 3.201 log TL

log10 W 5 24.724 1 2.987 log TL

log10 W 5 25.271 1 3.200 log TL

5

5

5

5

5

Equations from Carlander (1969)

Cisco

White sucker

Common shiner

Trout-perch

Black bullhead

log10 W 5 25.304 1 3.073 log TL

log10 W 5 25.077 1 3.059 log TL

log10 W 5 25.560 1 3.290 log TL

log10 W 5 25.032 1 3.080 log TL

log10 W 5 25.257 1 3.097 log TL

5

5

1

1

5

Northern hog sucker

Esocidae

log10 W 5 24.828 1 2.941 log TL

log10 W 5 25.552 1 3.122 log TL

2

5

a Total length in cm.

where n 5 number of different food types, RIa 5

relative importance of prey taxa a, AIa 5 absolute

importance of prey taxa a in the diet. In turn, AIa

5 %Fa 1 %Na 1 %Va, where %Fa 5 percent frequency

of occurrence of taxa a, %Na 5 percent of

total number of organisms of taxa a, and %Va 5

percent of total volume of food organisms represented

by taxa a.

We used simple linear regression to test relations

between (1) prey fish TL and muskellunge TL, (2)

prey fish TL/muskellunge TL and muskellunge TL,

and (3) number of prey items eaten and muskellunge

TL. Chi-square analyses were used to assess

differences in the proportion of muskellunge having

diet items in their stomachs across seasons for

all fish combined and for each of nine 100-mm

length categories (200–1,000 mm) and to assess

differences across length categories during each of

three seasons. Alpha was set at 0.05 for all tests.

Results

Diet of Muskellunge

Muskellunge diets were diverse during this

study. Contents of 1,092 stomachs from muskellunge

(226–1,180 mm TL) captured in the littoral

zone of 34 water bodies were examined (Table 3);

34.3% of them contained prey items. Most muskellunge

stomachs with food contained a single

item (74%), 16% had two items, and 5% had 3

items; yet up to 25 items per stomach were found

(Figure 1). Overall, percent of muskellunge with

food (i.e., occurrence) decreased as muskellunge

size increased (chi-square 5 73.95, df 5 9, P ,

0.001; Table 4). Large and small muskellunge ate

the same number of prey, as there was no relation

between the number of prey items eaten and muskellunge

length.

For the 375 stomachs (34.3%) containing 582

food items, the combined volume of food was

16,130 mL (Table 5). Fish composed 98% of the

volume of food, and the 547 fish items included

12 families and 31 species. Overall the two most

important food items for muskellunge were yellow

perch (RI 5 25) and catostomids (RI 5 21; Table

5). Yellow perch represented 30% of the total number

of prey but only 17% of the total volume of

prey (Table 5). Conversely, catostomids represented

only 8% of the total number of prey items

but 47% of the total volume of food. Cyprinids

(RI 5 7), walleye, Micropterus spp., and esocids

ranked low in the muskellunge diet (RI , 4 for

each prey type). Unidentifiable fish made up 17%

of all food items and 3% of the total volume. The

35 nonfish items (2% of the total volume of food)

included crayfish, aquatic insects, frogs, mudpuppies,

tadpoles, and one mouse.

In each of the eight lakes that had a minimum

sample size of 15 muskellunge, patterns in RI values

varied somewhat, but yellow perch and catostomids

were consistently important in muskellunge

diets. Yellow perch were the most important

(highest RI values) of the identifiable prey in five

lakes and second most important in three lakes.

Catostomids were the most important of the identifiable

prey in three of the eight lakes and second

most important in three others. Darters and cyp262

BOZEK ET AL.

TABLE 3.—Location and size of Wisconsin water bodies sampled, number of muskellunge captured, and percentage

of muskellunge stomachs containing prey, 1991–1994.

Water body County

Lake area

(ha)

Muskellunge

Number

captured

Percentage

with prey

Mineral

Lake of the Pines

Lower Clam

Spillerberg

Ghost

Ashland

Sawyer

Sawyer

Ashland

Sawyer

91

110

93

30

151

171

167

120

81

45

39.2

36.5

40.0

30.9

42.2

Lyman

Lac Courte Oreilles

Pine

Potter

English

Douglas

Sawyer

Iron

Ashland

Ashland

163

2,039

126

12

99

41

51

51

22

66

43.9

29.4

29.4

59.1

16.7

Amik

Namekagon

Lower Park Falls Flowage

Round

Upper Park Falls Flowage

East Twin

Solberg

Price

Bayfield

Price

Price

Price

Ashland

Price

91

1,306

29

294

174

45

348

17

32

14

22

14

11

27

64.7

28.1

64.3

36.4

57.1

54.5

18.5

Holcombe flowage

Papoose

Eagle River Chain of Lakes

Pixley Flowage

Pike

Chippewa

Vilas

Vilas

Price

Price

1,574

173

1,457

135

326

12

60

12

6

7

41.7

6.7

25.0

50.0

28.6

Turner

Galilee

Black

Moquah

Musser Flowage

Price

Ashland

Sawyer

Ashland

Price

60

86

52

20

228

7

6

5

5

4

28.6

33.3

20.0

20.0

25.0

South Fork Flambeau River

Crowley Flowage

Petenwell Flowage

Spider

Buffalo

Price

Price

Juneau

Ashland

Bayfield

171

9,324

42

72

4

2

1

5

2

25.0

50.0

100.0

0.0

0.0

Swan

Thompson

Columbia

Price

164

45

1

1

0.0

0.0

All 1,092 34.3

rinids were the second most important of the identifiable

prey in the other two lakes and catostomids

were third.

Seasonal Diet of Muskellunge

The occurrence of food in muskellunge increased

significantly from spring (25.4%) to summer

(53.5%) to fall (69.0%; chi-square 5 36.31,

df 5 2, P , 0.001; Table 4). The greatest number

of prey categories also occurred in fall, in part at

least, because the greatest number (N 5 608) of

muskellunge were caught in fall.

Patterns in RI values among prey types varied

among seasons, but yellow perch and catostomids

were consistently important foods in each season

sampled (Figure 2). Yellow perch RI values ranked

second in spring and first in summer and fall. Yellow

perch also made up the largest percentage of

the total number of prey in summer and fall and

the second largest percentage in spring (Table 6).

Catostomid RI values ranked first in spring and

second in summer and fall. (Figure 2) Catostomids

composed the greatest percentage of total volume

of prey in all seasons sampled (Table 6). Relative

importance values across all seasons indicated that

the next most important food items were generally

cyprinids (mean RI 5 7), Lepomis spp. (mean RI

5 6), and Pomoxis spp. (mean RI 5 6). Walleyes

were eaten in each season sampled, but RI values

were always less than 3, and Micropterus spp. were

found eaten in summer (RI 5 5) and fall (RI 5

4).

Other foods varied in their importance seasonally.

Darters were important (RI 5 14) in spring

but not in summer (RI 5 1) or fall (RI 5 2). Although

darters represented 31% of the number of

prey items in spring, they occurred in only 14%

of the stomachs, and composed less than 1% of

MUSKELLUNGE DIETS 263

FIGURE 1.—Number of prey items per stomach for muskellunge that had food in their stomachs. Muskellunge

were collected from Wisconsin lakes during spring through fall, 1991–1994.

TABLE 4.—Number of muskellunge, by length-class, with food in their stomachs and with empty stomachs. Fish were

collected from Wisconsin water bodies during spring through fall, 1991–1994.

Length-class (mm)

or statistic

Spring

Food Empty

Summer

Food Empty

Fall

Food Empty

Across season

chi-square (P)

All seasons

Number

with food

Percent

with food

200–299

300–399

400–499

500–599

600–699

1

7

4

6

8

1

22

10

14

15

2

15

10

9

11

0

15

20

13

20

1

59

62

35

31

3

66

59

49

58

3.00 (0.223)

5.60 (0.061)

4.99 (0.083)

0.94 (0.626)

0.01 (0.998)

4

81

76

50

50

50

44

46

40

35

700–799

800–899

900–999

72

1

3

44

69

32

13

7

2

28

23

7

40

14

5

70

44

10

0.06 (0.809)

0.01 (0.993)

4.78 (0.091)

60

42

10

30

24

17

1,000–1,099

1,100–1,199

1

0

16

5

0 3 1 1 4.56 (0.102) 2

0

9

0

All lengths 58 228 69 129 248 360 36.31 (,0.01) 375

Among sizeclass

x2 (P) 14.41 (0.108) 11.33 (0.184) 17.31 (0.027) 73.95 (,0.001)

the total volume in spring (Table 6). Esocids, ciscoes,

and bullheads were eaten in spring and fall

but were not of major importance in the diet (Figure

2; Table 6). Crayfish were eaten by muskellunge

in summer (RI 5 6) and fall (RI 5 1). Although

crayfish represented 12% of the prey items

in summer, they occurred in only 4% of the muskellunge

stomachs, and represented less than 2%

of the total volume in summer.

Prey Size Selection

Muskellunge ate prey fish that ranged from 6%

to 47% of their own total length. Prey total length

was positively related to muskellunge total length

(r2 5 0.34, df 5 426, P # 0.001), and while relations

varied among prey type, the slope of these

relations for individual taxa ranged from 0.087 to

0.276 (Table 7; Figure 3). Residuals of the linear

relation between muskellunge total length and prey

264 BOZEK ET AL.

TABLE 5.—Diet analysis of the 582 food items found in stomachs of 375 muskellunge containing food when 1,092

muskellunge from 34 Wisconsin water bodies were examined in 1991–1994. Values for each kind of prey are the

percentage of total number, percentage of individual stomachs, percentage of volume, and absolute and relative importance

index values.

Prey category

Percent

composition

by number

Percent

frequency of

occurrence

Percent of

total volume

Absolute

importance

index value

Relative

importance

index value

Catostomidae

Cyprinidae

Yellow perch

Lepomis spp.

Pomoxis spp.

8.4

6.9

30.1

7.0

5.7

12.0

9.3

32.8

9.1

7.7

46.6

4.6

16.9

4.5

7.0

67.0

20.8

79.7

20.6

20.4

21.1

6.6

25.1

6.5

6.4

Rock bass

Micropterus spp.

Walleye

Cisco

Sculpin

0.5

2.9

0.9

0.5

0.3

0.8

4.5

1.3

0.8

0.5

0.2

3.1

3.4

0.9

0.0

1.5

10.6

5.6

2.2

0.9

0.5

3.3

1.8

0.7

0.3

Stickleback

Mudminnow

Darter

Esocidae

Bullhead

0.5

0.5

9.5

1.4

0.9

0.8

0.8

4.3

2.1

1.3

0.0

0.1

0.2

4.7

2.4

1.3

1.4

14.0

8.2

4.6

0.4

0.4

4.4

2.6

1.5

Trout-perch

Common carp

0.2

0.7

0.3

0.3

0.0

0.1

0.5

1.1

0.1

0.3

Unidentified fish

Crayfish

Aquatic insect

Frog

Mudpuppy

Tadpole

Mouse

17.2

2.9

0.3

1.5

0.7

0.3

0.2

22.4

1.6

0.5

1.9

1.1

0.5

0.3

3.0

0.4

0.0

0.9

0.6

0.1

0.2

42.6

4.9

0.9

4.3

2.3

1.0

0.6

13.4

1.6

0.3

1.4

0.7

0.3

0.2

Total 100 100 317.1 100

total length indicated that the range of prey lengths

increased as muskellunge length increased. Prey

size remained a constant proportion of muskellunge

size (r2 5 0.01, df 5 426, P 5 0.314; Figure

3); small (,60-cm) and large ($60-cm) muskellunge

both ate fish averaging 20% of their total

length.

Discussion

Our finding that muskellunge captured in the

littoral zone of northern Wisconsin lakes fed primarily

on yellow perch and white suckers across

seasons is consistent with other studies (Hourston

1952; Lawler 1965; Diana 1979; Krska and Applegate

1982; Deutsch 1986). Yellow perch are

ubiquitous throughout the natural range of muskellunge

and clearly are vulnerable to muskellunge

predation. In three regions in Canada, yellow perch

were also the most frequently eaten food by muskellunge

(Hourston 1952). Yellow perch may be a

common diet item due to both their availability

(i.e., abundance and location) and suitability (i.e.,

prey choice) to muskellunge. Schools of yellow

perch may increase their vulnerability to muskellunge

predation by swimming in vegetated areas

of littoral zones, which are the same areas occupied

by muskellunge during the day (Becker

1983). Thus, yellow perch size and abundance in

similar habitats as muskellunge would make them

attractive prey.

Catostomids, also ubiquitous in the natural

range of muskellunge, have been considered important

prey for esocids and were also important

in the diet of muskellunge during all seasons sampled.

The importance of catostomids to muskellunge

has been corroborated circumstantially as

growth in muskellunge is positively correlated

with catostomid density in northern Wisconsin

lakes (Hanson 1986). Again, availability and suitability

of catostomids in the study lakes probably

made them a common prey item. Catostomid RI

values ranked highest in spring, presumably because

catostomid spawning behavior increased

their vulnerability to muskellunge that are found

in nearshore areas of lakes. Many muskellunge

were observed near catostomid spawning areas

during spring sampling, and many muskellunge

that were collected close to spawning catostomids

contained large catostomids in their stomachs. Although

the number of catostomids eaten declined

MUSKELLUNGE DIETS 265

FIGURE 2.—Relative importance of prey consumed by muskellunge collected from 34 Wisconsin water bodies

during spring through fall, 1991–1994. Of the 1,092 muskellunge examined, 375 contained food items; N is the

number of items identified (total N 5 582).

after spring, RI values remained high partly because

many of the catostomids eaten later in the

year were large in size compared with other forage.

Overall, other fish taxa were more variable and

less important in the muskellunge diet. The low

dietary importance of black bass, sunfish, crappies,

and rock bass in this study was consistent with

results of other laboratory and field studies that

have shown that esocids do not prefer centrarchids

(e.g., Hourston 1952; Beyerle 1971; Mauck and

Coble 1971; Weithman and Anderson 1977;

Deutsch 1986; Wahl and Stein 1988). However,

Krska and Applegate (1982) found that young

muskellunge ate Lepomis spp. when those species

formed a prominent part of the available prey base

and were of appropriate size. Despite large walleye

populations in several of the study lakes (e.g., .50

fish/ha), walleyes did not appear to be an important

food for muskellunge. While muskellunge and

walleyes can be spatially segregated at times, we

frequently found walleyes and muskellunge in

close proximity at night; yet when fresh prey in

266 BOZEK ET AL.

TABLE 6.—Diets in spring (Sp, 58 stomachs with 131 food items), summer (Su, 69 stomachs with 107 food items),

and fall (Fa, 248 stomachs with 344 food items) of muskellunge collected from 34 Wisconsin water bodies, 1991–1994.

Values for each kind of prey taxa are the percentage of total number of items, percentage of occurrence in individual

stomachs, percentage of volume, and absolute importance index values.

Prey categorya

Percent composition

by number

Sp Su Fa

Percent frequency of

occurrence

Sp Su Fa

Percent of total volume

Sp Su Fa

Absolute importance

index value

Sp Su Fa

Catostomidae

Cyprinidae

Yellow perch

Lepomis spp.

Pomoxis spp.

13.0

6.1

22.9

4.6

1.5

7.5

5.6

36.4

5.6

7.5

7.0

7.6

30.8

8.4

6.7

22.4

13.8

25.9

6.9

3.4

11.6

8.7

37.7

7.2

11.6

9.7

8.5

33.1

10.1

7.7

53.6

5.9

18.0

3.1

2.7

53.1

2.9

11.1

6.8

10.7

40.5

4.5

18.3

4.5

8.1

88.9

25.8

66.7

14.6

7.7

72.2

17.2

85.3

19.7

29.7

57.1

20.5

82.2

23.0

22.4

Rock bass

Micropterus spp.

Walleye

1.5

0.0

0.8

0.0

3.7

1.9

0.3

3.8

0.6

3.4

0.0

1.7

0.0

5.8

2.9

0.4

5.2

0.8

0.7

0.0

5.4

0.0

6.8

3.3

0.0

3.5

2.3

5.7

0.0

7.9

0.0

16.4

8.1

0.7

12.5

3.6

Cisco

Sculpin

Stickleback

Mudminnow

Darter

1.5

0.0

0.0

1.5

31.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

2.8

0.3

0.6

0.9

0.3

3.2

3.4

0.0

0.0

3.4

13.8

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.4

0.4

0.8

1.2

0.4

2.8

3.1

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.2

8.1

0.0

0.0

5.2

45.6

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

4.3

0.7

1.5

2.1

0.7

6.2

Esocidae

Bullhead

Trout-perch

Common carp

Unidentified fish

1.5

1.5

0.0

0.0

11.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

3.7

13.1

1.7

0.9

0.3

0.0

20.6

3.4

3.4

0.0

0.0

17.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.4

18.8

2.4

1.2

0.4

0.0

24.6

2.1

3.7

0.0

0.0

0.9

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.8

2.8

7.7

2.6

0.1

0.0

4.2

7.1

8.7

0.0

0.0

29.6

0.0

0.0

0.0

6.0

34.7

11.9

4.7

0.8

0.0

49.4

Crayfish

Aquatic insect

Frog

Mudpuppy

Tadpole

0.0

0.8

0.0

0.0

0.0

12.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.2

0.3

2.6

1.2

0.6

0.0

1.7

0.0

0.0

0.0

4.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.2

0.4

2.8

1.6

0.8

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.6

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

1.6

1.1

0.1

0.0

2.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

18.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

2.6

0.7

7.1

3.9

1.5

Mouse 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 1.0

All 100 100 100 100 100 100 324.1 311.6 316.9

a See Table 1.

TABLE 7.—Significant relations between prey fish total length (TL, cm) and muskellunge TL (cm) for muskellunge

collected in Wisconsin during spring through fall, 1991–1994.

Prey N r2 Equation F P

Total

Catostomidae

Cyprinidae

Yellow perch

Lepomis spp.

427

45

37

166

39

0.340

0.393

0.189

0.101

0.670

Prey TL 5 0.220 (muskellunge TL) 2 1.1985

Prey TL 5 0.276 (muskellunge TL) 1 2.9647

Prey TL 5 0.105 (muskellunge TL) 1 5.9866

Prey TL 5 0.087 (muskellunge TL) 1 5.4286

Prey TL 5 0.190 (muskellunge TL) 2 1.5726

219.223

27.847

8.147

18.415

75.054

0.001

0.001

0.007

0.001

0.001

Pomoxis spp.

Micropterus spp.

30

17

0.606

0.404

Prey TL 5 0.209 (muskellunge TL) 2 1.6321

Prey TL 5 0.206 (muskellunge TL) 2 0.0064

43.139

10.171

0.001

0.006

muskellunge stomachs was examined in these

cases, walleyes were rare. It appears that walleyes

are either not preferred by muskellunge or are capable

of avoiding muskellunge. Walleyes become

more active at night, and the presence of a subretinal

tapetum lucidium (Ali et al. 1977) may help

walleyes avoid muskellunge. Esocids were rare in

the diet of muskellunge, but our study did provide

solid evidence of cannibalism. Cannibalism has

been used as an indicator of food shortages in esocids

(Beyerle 1971; Casselman 1978). Nonfish

items were not ranked as important food items for

muskellunge in this study. However, these prey

items, along with small or uncommon fish may be

important during specific periods when their abundance

increases (e.g., fall migration of frogs, mayfly

hatch, etc.) or in water bodies where prey fish

are limited, are not vulnerable, or are undesirable

to muskellunge (Beyerle 1971).

Muskellunge diet has been shown to change as

their size increases. Newly hatched muskellunge

initially feed on zooplankton, but they eat mostly

fish after 4–5 weeks (MacKay and Werner 1934;

Elson 1940). Muir (1960) and Deutsch (1986) suggested

that muskellunge change from eating primarily

minnows to larger prey (e.g., catostomids,

MUSKELLUNGE DIETS 267

FIGURE 3.—Relations between (A) total length of 427 prey fish and total length of muskellunge and (B) total

length of 427 prey fish/muskellunge total length as a function of muskellunge total length. Muskellunge were

collected from 34 Wisconsin water bodies from spring through fall, 1991–1994. Unidentifiable fish and nonfish

prey items were not included.

268 BOZEK ET AL.

yellow perch) as they grow. In general, small esocids

are believed to have a tendency to eat many

small items, whereas large esocids commonly eat

a single large item (Lawler 1965). In our study,

cyprinids were clearly important prey for smaller

muskellunge, as was also found by Deutsch

(1986), but their small size reduced their overall

relative importance in the diet. Cyprinids, however,

may also be important for larger muskellunge

when large cyprinids are available or when other

prey are rare.

The proportion of muskellunge stomachs containing

food in our study (34%) was similar to that

found in some previous studies (Hourston 1952;

Krska and Applegate 1982) but differed from the

proportion (54%) found by Deutsch (1986). The

difference between the two studies may be attributed

to the season the fish were captured or to the

size of fish examined. In our study, a larger proportion

of fish were caught in fall, and fall-caught

fish had higher occurrence of food items. The

greatest number of empty muskellunge stomachs

coincided with spawning in spring, and may suggest

fasting where cooler water temperatures reduce

metabolic demands (Frost 1954; Mann 1976;

Diana 1979; Bregazzi and Kennedy 1980). Yet despite

spawning activities, muskellunge did continue

to feed as some ripe males and females

contained food items. As spawning progressed, the

percentage of muskellunge with food increased.

In our study, most (74%) muskellunge with food

contained a single item. However, we found no

relation between the size of muskellunge and the

number of items eaten. Large and small muskellunge

ate the same number of prey. However, we

did find that the percentage of muskellunge with

food decreased as muskellunge size increased,

which is consistent with the results of studies of

northern pike. Percent empty stomachs in northern

pike has been found to increase with size (Frost

1954; Diana 1979; Sammons 1993) and is generally

attributed to the belief that larger northern

pike feed on larger food items and, therefore, feed

less often. However, this theory does not fully explain

the results in our study; although larger muskellunge

ate larger food items, those items were

proportionately the same size as the food items

eaten by smaller muskellunge. The larger prey preferred

by large muskellunge was probably less

abundant than prey for small muskellunge, thus

increasing the time required to forage successfully.

Many studies have shown that piscivorous fishes

select prey based on size (Mauck and Coble 1971;

Gillen et al. 1981; Deutsch 1986; Juanes 1994),

and optimum foraging theory predicts that prey

size increases with predator size (Charnov 1976).

In this study, muskellunge ate prey fish that ranged

from 6% to 47% of their own total length, which

is similar to the results of other research. Gillen

et al. (1981) found that in aquaria, small (90–170-

mm TL) tiger muskellunge (muskellunge 3 northern

pike) selected cyprinids that were about 40%

of their own TL and bluegills that were about 30%

of their TL; however, in field experiments, tiger

muskellunge chose smaller bluegills than predicted.

Krska and Applegate (1982) found that muskellunge

ate Lepomis spp. that ranged from 17%

to 31% of their TL and minnows and darters that

ranged from 26% to 37% of their TL in a South

Dakota reservoir, which are slightly smaller than

the sizes predicted by Gillen et al. (1981). Deutsch

(1986) found that small (,60-cm) muskellunge ate

prey that averaged 17% of their TL and that large

($60 cm) muskellunge ate prey 36% of their TL.

Muskellunge clearly eat larger prey as they grow.

When sample sizes were sufficient (N . 10), prey

TL of most species was positively correlated with

muskellunge TL. Darters (N 5 55) were exceptions,

but the narrow range of lengths (i.e., little

variation in length) may account for the lack of

any relation. However, our study clearly showed

that when scaled against body size, muskellunge

eat the same size prey in proportion to their own

size. Small and large muskellunge both ate fish

that averaged 20% of their total length. Muskellunge

also broaden the range of prey sizes eaten

as they grow; maximum prey size ingested increases,

while the minimum size remains constant.

We urge fisheries personnel to carefully consider

all ecological and economic factors when managing

muskellunge. The results of this study indicate

that, if present, yellow perch and catostomids

will be a common prey item of muskellunge

in Wisconsin water bodies during all open-water

seasons. We believe that substantial biomass of

yellow perch and catostomids in waters receiving

stocked muskellunge would be beneficial to successful

muskellunge stocking but that evaluations

are clearly need to substantiate this. However, this

research did not address prey selectivity. Future

studies should critically evaluate muskellunge diet

across a suite of lakes composed of different prey

fish communities. Particularly important are those

lakes that do not have abundant yellow perch or

catostomid populations and in which other species

comprise the prey base. Ideally, muskellunge fisheries

should have an abundant and diverse prey

base to avoid inter- and intraspecific competition

MUSKELLUNGE DIETS 269

and to minimize possible predation on sport or

protected fish. Moreover, muskellunge should not

be managed as a single species but with the goal

of maintaining a balanced fish community.

Acknowledgments

We thank D. Coble, F. Copes, and W. LeGrande

for reviewing earlier drafts of this manuscript and

W. LeGrande, M. Retzer, and T. Cavender for assistance

in identification of digested food items

using diagnostic fish body parts. We are indebted

to the many Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

crews that assisted in this study, particularly

Thomas ‘‘Skip’’ Sommerfeldt and Terry Margenau.

This study was funded by the Wisconsin

Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin

Cooperative Fishery Research Unit.

References

Ali, M. A., R. A. Ryder, and M. Anctil. 1977. Photoreceptors

and visual pigments as related to behavioral

responses and preferred habitats of perches

(Perca spp.) and pikeperches (Stizostedion spp.).

Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada

34:1475–1480.

Axon, J. R. 1981. Development of a muskellunge fishery

at Cave Run Lake, Kentucky, 1974–1979. North

American Journal of Fisheries Management 1:134–

143.

Becker, G. C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of

Wisconsin Press, Madison.

Belusz, L. C., and D. J. Witter. 1986. Why are they here

and how much do they spend? A survey of muskellunge

angler characteristics, expenditures and

benefits. Pages 39–45 in G. E. Hall and M. J. Van

Den Avyle, editors. Reservoir fisheries management:

strategies for the 80’s. American Fisheries

Society, Southern Division, Reservoir Committee,

Bethesda, Maryland.

Beyerle, G. B. 1971. A study of two northern pike–

bluegill populations. Transactions of the American

Fisheries Society 100:69–73.

Beyerle, G. B., and J. E. Williams. 1968. Some observations

of food selectivity by northern pike in

aquaria. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society

97:28–31.

Bowen, S. H. 1983. Quantitative description of the diet.

Pages 325–336 in L. A. Nielsen and D. L. Johnson,

editors. Fisheries techniques. American Fisheries

Society, Bethesda, Maryland.

Bregazzi, P. R., and C. R. Kennedy. 1980. The biology

of pike, Esox lucius L., in a southern eutrophic lake.

Journal of Fish Biology 17:91–112.

Burri, T. M. 1997. Food habits of muskellunge in Wisconsin.

Master’s thesis. University of Wisconsin,

Stevens Point.

Carlander, K. D. 1969. Handbook of freshwater fishery

biology, volume 1. Iowa State University Press,

Ames.

Carlander, K. D. 1977. Handbook of freshwater fishery

biology, volume 2. Iowa State University Press,

Ames.

Casselman, J. M. 1978. Effects of environmental factors

on growth, survival, activity, and exploitation of

northern pike. Pages 114–128 in R. L. Kendall, editor.

Selected coolwater fishes of North America.

American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 11,

Bethesda, Maryland.

Charnov, E. L. 1976. Optimal foraging: the marginal

value theorem. Theoretical Population Biology 9:

129–136.

Crossman, E. J. 1978. Taxonomy and distribution of

North American esocids. Pages 13–26 in: R. L. Kendall,

editor. Selected coolwater fishes of North

America. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication

11, Bethesda, Maryland.

Crossman, E. J. 1986. The noble muskellunge: a review.

Pages 1–13 in G. E. Hall, editor. Managing muskies.

American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 15,

Bethesda, Maryland.

Crossman, E. J., and J. G. Hamilton. 1978. An apparatus

for sampling gut contents of large, living fishes.

Environmental Biology of Fishes 3:297–300.

Deutsch, W. G. 1986. Food habits of Susquehanna River

(Pennsylvania) muskellunge. Proceedings of the

Pennsylvania Academy of Science 60:169–173.

Diana, J. S. 1979. The feeding pattern and daily ration

of a top carnivore, the northern pike (Esox lucius).

Canadian Journal of Zoology 57:2121–2127.

Elson, P. F. 1940. Rearing maskinonge in a protected

area. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society

70:421–429.

Frost, W. E. 1954. The food of pike, Esox lucius L., in

Windermere. Journal of Animal Ecology 23:339–

360.

George, E. L., and W. F. Hadley. 1979. Food and habitat

partitioning between rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris)

and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui)

young of the year. Transactions of the American

Fisheries Society 108:253–261.

Gillen, A. L., R. A. Stein, and R. F. Carline. 1981. Predation

by pellet-reared tiger muskellunge on minnows

and bluegills in experimental systems. Transactions

of the American Fisheries Society 110:197–

209.

Hanson, D. A. 1986. Population characteristics and angler

use of muskellunge in eight northernWisconsin

lakes. Pages 238–248 in G. E. Hall, editor. Managing

muskies. American Fisheries Society, Special

Publication 15, Bethesda, Maryland.

Hilsenhoff, W. L. 1981. Aquatic insects of Wisconsin:

keys to Wisconsin genera and notes on biology, distribution

and species. Publication of the Natural

History Council, University ofWisconsin, Madison.

Hourston, A. S. 1952. The food and growth of the maskinonge

(Esox masquinongy Mitchill) in Canadian

waters. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of

Canada 8:347–368.

Juanes, F. 1994. What determines prey size selectivity

in piscivorous fishes? Pages 79–100 in D. J. Stouder,

K. L. Fresh, and R. J. Feller, editors. Theory and

270 BOZEK ET AL.

application in fish feeding ecology. University of

South Carolina Press, Columbia.

Kinman, B. T. 1989. Evaluation of muskellunge introduction

in Green River Lake. Kentucky Department

of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Fisheries Bulletin

85, Frankfort.

Krska, R. J., Jr., and R. L. Applegate. 1982. Food of

young muskellunge in a power plant cooling reservoir.

Progressive Fish-Culturist 44:172–173.

Lawler, G. H. 1965. The food of the pike, Esox lucius,

in Heming Lake, Manitoba. Journal of the Fisheries

Research Board of Canada 22:1357–1377.

MacKay, H. H., and W. H. R. Werner. 1934. Some observations

on the culture of maskinonge. Transactions

of the American Fisheries Society 64:313–

317.

Mann, R. H. K. 1976. Observations on the age, growth,

reproduction, and food of the pike Esox lucius (L.)

in two rivers in southern England. Journal of Fish

Biology 8:179–197.

Mauck, W. L., and D. W. Coble. 1971. Vulnerability of

some fishes to northern pike (Esox lucius) predation.

Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada

28:957–969.

Mooradian, S. R., and W. F. Shepherd. 1973. Management

of muskellunge in Chautauqua Lake. New

York Fish and Game Journal 20:152–157.

Muir, B. S. 1960. Comparison of growth rates for native

and hatchery-stocked populations of Esox masquinongy

in Nogies Creek, Ontario. Journal of the Fisheries

Research Board of Canada 17:919–927.

Oates, D. W., L. M. Krings, and K. L. Ditz. 1993. Field

manual for the identification of selected North

American freshwater fish by fillets and scales. Nebraska

Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska

Technical Series 19, Lincoln.

Pennak, R. W. 1989. Freshwater invertebrates of the

United States, 3rd edition. Wiley, New York.

Ragan, J., T. Steinwand, and G. Van Eeckhout. 1986. A

synopsis of results from a questionnaire on muskellunge—

resource agency survey. Pages 370–372

in G. E. Hall, editor. Managing muskies. American

Fisheries Society, Special Publication 15, Bethesda,

Maryland.

Sammons, S. M. 1993. Annual food habits of northern

pike in an eastern South Dakota natural lake. Master’s

thesis. South Dakota State University, Brookings.

Seelbach, P. W. 1988. Considerations regarding the introduction

of muskellunge into southern Michigan

rivers. Michigan Department of Natural Resources,

Fisheries Technical Report 88–5, Ann Arbor.

Smith, N. W. 1996. Muskellunge stocking: is it a viable

management option? Pages 155–158 in S. J. Kerr

and C. H. Olver, editors. Managing muskies in the

’90s. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources,

Kemptville.

Tonn, W. M., and J. J. Magnuson. 1982. Patterns in the

species composition and richness of fish assemblages

in northern Wisconsin lakes. Ecology 63:

1149–1166.

Van Den Avyle, M. J., and J. E. Roussel. 1980. Evaluation

of a simple method for removing food items

from live black bass. Progressive Fish-Culturist 42:

222–223.

Vasey, F. W. 1972. The fish populations of Pomme de

Terre reservoir. Missouri Department of Conservation,

Federal Aid in Fish Restoration, Project F-

1-R-16,Work Plan 18, Job 1, Final Report, Jefferson

City.

Wahl, D. H., and R. A. Stein. 1988. Selective predation

by three esocids: the role of prey behavior and morphology.

Transactions of the American Fisheries

Society 117:142–151.

Weithman, A. S., and R. O. Anderson. 1977. Survival,

growth, and prey of Esocidae in experimental systems.

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society

106:424–430.

Windell, J. T. 1971. Food analysis and rate of digestion.

Pages 197–203 in W. E. Ricker, editor. Methods for

assessment of fish production in fresh waters, 2nd

printing. Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, UK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The one thing that I see in the future is a busier Gull Lake. It's already getting to be a zoo on the weekends at the landings and on the water. Throw in some musky anglers on some of these busy weekends and there will be some rage. I guess that is inevitable with the way the area is growing. We will need to add landings or add to the existing landings. I say stock it and it will be the most fun musky lake in the state (in about 12 years). And it will always be a very good walleye lake.

Walleyedan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We now know what is in their stomachs, but what happens when we run into a forage problem. Maybe now isn't the best time to launch a muskie program. I'm not saying never, but maybe not right now considering the status of the lake. The DNR has done a great job with the walleye program on Gull, I would hate to see it get foiled in it's prime.

Jason Erlandson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Posts

    • Ya I think my dog would want to go after them he gets really excited around other dogs. That's why I will never hunt him without his e collar because I know I can stop him in his tracks with it. My dog likes to hunt close and I never let him push out way in front of me so at least I have eyes on him at all time and can give him the command to come to me if I see a wolf. I always keep a slip lead with me as well so I can put that on him and not have my hand tide up reaching down holding on his collar.

      I had a couple run in with wolves last year in the Longville/Remer area but that was just with me on foot with no dog.

      The one thing that gets me is "Only agents of the government are authorized to take wolves if pets or livestock are threatened, attacked or killed" 

      I don't think I could just stand there and watch my dog die.

      Anyway did you hunt a different area? Any birds I have only been out once in the mille lacs area and didn't see any. Going to Nemadji this weekend and should see some.

       

    • smalliehunter

      Posted

      A friend and I will also be up chasing smallmouth this weekend!!!

    • slammer

      Posted

      Add Sallie to the list.

    • BlackArrow1

      Posted

      Went up north of Tofte last weekend camping/looking for a few grouse and to see the fall colors. Was in the region of the grade and 600 road. Pulled off on a walk only trail to run my lab and see if I could kick a few. Anyhow, my lab sits and barks like hell with anticipation at me every time I'm getting the gun out and getting ready to hunt her. So for about 5 minutes she's harassing me loud barking with excitement. We start walking down the trail maybe 50 yards and I see all this brown commotion jumping around ahead of us about 75 yards. At first I think we startled some deer. Then one came out full on the trail and stood watching me/dog. They were timber wolves. That one slunk off in the woods and another came out and just sat there looking at us for about a minute or so. When I noticed they were wolves I grabbed the dog by the caller. They seemed interested in my dog. Her barking must have drew them in. They ran off after looking us over a bit. I turned around and left that spot to avoid any issues. I'm thinking that maybe some younger bird dogs would be enticed to chase after wolves that show this kind of interest in them. In my opinion that would be bad and a dog may not come back alive, given their boldness and interest in my dog. It was fun seeing them, but we didn't just walk up and surprise them, they were coming to see the barking dog. Just curious? Maybe. Looking for an easy meal, maybe. I'm just putting this out there to inform bird hunters up there what I saw, so they can be aware if they have dogs. And no they were not coyotes. 

    • ANYFISH2

      Posted

      Made it out yesterday evening, SAW 4 deer. The same small buck and 3 does.  They sure seemed skittish with the wind.

      For the fact I am getting very few daytime pics of any deer, I am at lest seeing a few every sit.

    • delcecchi

      Posted

      The crescent and south switch meet all the criteria, except for boat access.   And they even usually have some sort of craft beer on tap, like surly furious etc. 

      The only place near the lake that has upscale food that I am aware of is the casino.    We try to get to the wilderness grill for lunch a time or two.   And daughter and husband will sometimes go there on date night while they are up, although the pull to the east is less now that the quilt shop in tower shut down. 

    • I am going up this weekend with a few buddies and the plan is to fish hard...will post back and let ya know if we find anything.

    • cabin040

      Posted

      Was up for the week of Sept 10-17th.  First day spent on East and West Fox lake and we did well on bass, crappie and northerns.  Second day was very slow fishing.  Spent one day on Kego and did well on bass and norhterns.  Hit Mitchel twice and did well on sunfish and bass.  A few nice crappies in the mix as well.  Went to Little Boy for a day of walleye fishing, and it was very slow.  1 walleye and 1 smallmouth bass.  Great week of fishing on a few new lakes.  A very nice area to explore.

      1 person likes this
    • Cliff Wagenbach

      Posted

      The trees are turning color fast now! Seems to gain color by the hour now!

      Cliff

    • Driving a scenic route through a state forest is a great way to view fall color, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  

      Finland State Forest

      Finland State Forest

      “Routes through hilly or rugged areas dominated by deciduous trees tend to have the best mix of color,” said Jennifer Teegarden, DNR forestry outreach specialist. “And the dark green needles of conifers accent the yellow, orange and red leaves of deciduous trees in mixed forest.”

      Here are a few state forests routes to consider:

      Late September

      • Finland State Forest heading northeast along County Road 7 from Finland.

      Early October

      • Bowstring and Blackduck state forests along state Highway 46 between Deer River and Northome.
      • Pillsbury State Forest along Beauty Lake Forest Road between County Road 77 and County Road 1.
      • St. Croix and Nemadji state forests loop. From Interstate 35, take exit #183 and head east on state Highway 48. Head north on County Road 24. Head east on County Road 24. At Markville, head north on County Road 31. Head west on Park Forest Road. At Kerrick, head south on state Highway 23 to Interstate 35 exit #195.

      Mid-October

      • Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest has two good options. Along Zumbro Bottoms Road off of state Highway 60 southwest of Wabasha. Along state Highway 16 between Interstate 90 and state Highway 26.

      Visit www.mndnr.gov/stateforests for information about visiting a state forest and additional scenic routes. Entrance into a state forest is free. State forest campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis for $14 a night.

      Visit the Minnesota state parks and trails Fall Color Finder at www.mndnr.gov/fall_colors to find areas in Minnesota with peak fall color. The Fall Color Finder is updated every Thursday through the end of October.

      Discuss below - to view set the hook here.



  • Posts

    • ZachD
      Ya I think my dog would want to go after them he gets really excited around other dogs. That's why I will never hunt him without his e collar because I know I can stop him in his tracks with it. My dog likes to hunt close and I never let him push out way in front of me so at least I have eyes on him at all time and can give him the command to come to me if I see a wolf. I always keep a slip lead with me as well so I can put that on him and not have my hand tide up reaching down holding on his collar. I had a couple run in with wolves last year in the Longville/Remer area but that was just with me on foot with no dog. The one thing that gets me is "Only agents of the government are authorized to take wolves if pets or livestock are threatened, attacked or killed"  I don't think I could just stand there and watch my dog die. Anyway did you hunt a different area? Any birds I have only been out once in the mille lacs area and didn't see any. Going to Nemadji this weekend and should see some.  
    • smalliehunter
      A friend and I will also be up chasing smallmouth this weekend!!!
    • slammer
      Add Sallie to the list.
    • BlackArrow1
      Went up north of Tofte last weekend camping/looking for a few grouse and to see the fall colors. Was in the region of the grade and 600 road. Pulled off on a walk only trail to run my lab and see if I could kick a few. Anyhow, my lab sits and barks like hell with anticipation at me every time I'm getting the gun out and getting ready to hunt her. So for about 5 minutes she's harassing me loud barking with excitement. We start walking down the trail maybe 50 yards and I see all this brown commotion jumping around ahead of us about 75 yards. At first I think we startled some deer. Then one came out full on the trail and stood watching me/dog. They were timber wolves. That one slunk off in the woods and another came out and just sat there looking at us for about a minute or so. When I noticed they were wolves I grabbed the dog by the caller. They seemed interested in my dog. Her barking must have drew them in. They ran off after looking us over a bit. I turned around and left that spot to avoid any issues. I'm thinking that maybe some younger bird dogs would be enticed to chase after wolves that show this kind of interest in them. In my opinion that would be bad and a dog may not come back alive, given their boldness and interest in my dog. It was fun seeing them, but we didn't just walk up and surprise them, they were coming to see the barking dog. Just curious? Maybe. Looking for an easy meal, maybe. I'm just putting this out there to inform bird hunters up there what I saw, so they can be aware if they have dogs. And no they were not coyotes. 
    • ANYFISH2
      Made it out yesterday evening, SAW 4 deer. The same small buck and 3 does.  They sure seemed skittish with the wind. For the fact I am getting very few daytime pics of any deer, I am at lest seeing a few every sit.