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Anybody for them in the big OT?


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Stole this from the politics section, thought we could see what the OT forum has to say?

How many muskies are too many? Anglers are of two minds

By DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune

June 14, 2008

Kirk Schnitker said he believes Minnesota is stocking too many lakes with muskies, to the detriment of other species, including walleyes, northerns and crappies.

And he says the Department of Natural Resources -- in its push to improve muskie fishing -- has ignored studies that show muskies can adversely affect other fish species.

Nonsense, says Shawn Kellett. Minnesota's muskie fishery is the envy of the nation, and expanding it hasn't hurt other gamefish populations, he said.

"There's about two dozen studies that says there's no correlation between muskies and a decline in other fisheries," Kellett said. "Minnesota has become the muskie-fishing destination in the world; it's not Canada or Wisconsin."

Clearly, Schnitker and Kellett are on opposite ends of the boat.

Somewhere stuck in the middle is the DNR. The agency is developing a long-range management plan for muskies and northerns, and Schnitker and Kellett were among a 19-member citizens committee that advised the DNR. The plan will guide management for those species through 2020.

Schnitker, of Champlin, fervently believes the DNR is on the wrong track. After the DNR proposed to stock muskies in Gull Lake near Brainerd in 2006, he founded Sportsmen for Responsible Musky Management. He explains the group's positions on a website.

Kellett, of Excelsior, is president of the Twin Cities chapter of Muskies Inc., which over the years has successfully pushed for expansion of the state's muskie fishery. He and his group would like to see more lakes stocked with muskies.

The DNR's latest draft plan calls for muskie stocking in eight additional waters over the next 12 years and says muskies will be managed for "trophy angling opportunities."

"It's a modest increase," said Ron Payer, DNR fisheries chief. "Whether we even reach that [number] depends on public comments." He said potential new muskie waters would go through a biological evaluation and public comment period.

Muskie expansion

The DNR says 115 state waters, including Lake of the Woods, are managed for muskies. They total 790,000 acres, or about 35 percent of state waters. Of the 94 waters managed for "pure strain" muskies, 44 lakes and seven rivers are native waters; muskies have been introduced through stocking in 43.

Another 21 waters are managed with hybrid tiger muskies in the Twin Cities area.

About 14 percent of resident licensed anglers target muskies, the DNR says.

Payer said the DNR is considering increasing muskie waters because the number of muskie anglers is growing, opportunities are limited and anglers, including members of Muskies Inc., have asked them to do so.

Schnitker counters that, saying more than 35 percent of the state's waters already have muskies. He points out that the DNR acknowledges another 54 lakes have small populations of muskies and the DNR's website lists 137 lakes with muskies.

And he questions whether even 14 percent of state anglers fish for muskies.

"Why do we need to stock more waters in the state with muskies?" he asked last week. "The issue comes down to this: Do muskies eat walleyes? Our position is that they clearly do, and they clearly cause problems with other fish.

"We're not anti-muskie," he said. "Muskies are a great sportsfish and serve the interest of a lot of people. I occasionally fish for them. [but] there's a tremendous amount of bias in the DNR that favors muskie stocking, and it alarms me."

Impacts on other gamefish

Schnitker, Kellett and the DNR all cite research that they say justifies their positions. Schnitker says research in Wisconsin shows muskies can have a major impact on other fish populations, including walleyes.

Among the research Kellett cites is a Wisconsin study showing nearly half of the diet of muskies consisted of perch, suckers or shiner minnows.

Payer acknowledged that anglers have raised concerns about the impact of muskie stocking on specific lakes, such as Miltona and Alexander. He said the DNR looked at the 43 waters where muskies are stocked.

"There was no smoking gun," he said. "Do muskies eat other fish? Sure they do, they're opportunistic. Obviously they are eating some gamefish. But their preferred food is suckers and tullibees. We're just not seeing a negative measurable impact on the waters we've stocked."

Kellett said he, too, would be concerned if he thought muskies were harming other gamefish populations. "Muskies are my passion, but I love fishing for bass and panfish," he said. "We want everyone to have good fishing."

Spearing an issue

Two other groups, Northerns Inc., a 40-member group of northern anglers near Brainerd, and the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association, whose members like to spear northerns, also don't care for the DNR's long-range muskie plan.

"It stinks," said Roger Goeschel of Burnsville, longtime member of the darkhouse association. "It's a fallacy they need more and more muskie lakes."

Spearers are concerned that more northern spearing restrictions could be imposed if more lakes are stocked with muskies.

Kellett said that fear is unfounded. "We are not seeking any new restrictions on spearing," he said.

And Ron Carper of Baxter, an avid northern angler and member of Northerns Inc., said he believes muskie stocking can result in stunted northerns.

Meanwhile, the DNR says it is still accepting comments on the muskie-northern plan, and a final version could be ready by the end of summer.

The DNR doesn't expect everyone to like it.

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Very Interesting Debate indeed.

But I'm a little confused on the numbers?

If the DNR Manages aprox 5,400 Lakes and aprox 137 have muskies

that is about 2.5 %, which in my Book is pretty small number.

The total acres is 790,000 or 35 percent but 113,000 of that is Leech lake alone, which is Native. And can you really count LOTW

in the equation, half the lake is in Canada?

My point being the numbers can be perceived in many different ways.

There is no way you can convince me 8 more (Lakes) bodies of water is going to hurt any other resource.

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It's a modest increase," said Ron Payer, DNR fisheries chief.

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I totally agree with Ron Payer in the above statement.

This will be very interesting to see how it unfolds.

Brian Kaiser

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They tried stocking muskies in the Otter Tail river chain back in the 1970's, thankfully they all died off.

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Their are a still a few in the ot river chain. I have personally scene one and then I have also heard about a few being caught. But they are still few and far between

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100% in favor for OT muskies.

Tribune online had a picture of a guy with 47 incher from OT river, caught May 22, so there are a few in still around.

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Hey, Bluejay Bait?

Do you have a Link or Picture or more information on the 47 supposedly caught on the OT river?

I'm a bit curious..about the exact Location

You can email me at

[email protected]

thanks

Brian K

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I think it was the pic of a fish caught at orwell, I think OT would be a great lake to house the ski. Lots of structure and plenty of forage, seems like it would have a lot of potential.

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Thanks for the Link, fishin58

Does anyone recognize those two flag poles in the Back ground?

I'm tryin to figure out the exact location.

Thanks in advance

Brian

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My grandpa caught a muskie in Rush Lake in 2006. I saw it and it was definitely a muskie.

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I would think a few may make it into OT through the river coming from West Battle. Pretty good journey, but possible in high water conditions.

With the 30 inch minimum size on OT for pike, I am not sure if the DNR would want to introduce muskies while trying to build a big pike fishery. The sturgeon program may also be another roadblock for muskie introduction.

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OT would be a GREAT, I mean GREAT, like world class muskie lake. I dream of the day they put them in there. Most lakes with good muskie and walleye populations that I've fished, have larger walleyes. The 10 inch wealleyes in OT would be reduced, and the overall size would increase, imo. It could be good for the walleye population. There's so many walleyes in that lake, you could introduce great white sharks, and have little impact.

I'd imagine many on this board would fight tooth and nail agianst it though.

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Crankbait i couldnt agree any more. I believe Ottertail would be ureal as a muskie fishery. But you right, its a dream. From talking to locals over the years they would never go for it, walleyes are king there.

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I think that is why nobody is voicing there opinion. crankbait, they would have to admit that it would make a good ski lake and it would help the small eye concentrations, something that some norvegians have a tough time doin.

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The norvegians luvvv keepin them 12 & 13 inch EYES for the Pan !

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I also think it would make a good muskie lake. The size, structure, and forage base seem perfect for it. I'll leave that to the fisheries folks to solve.

If there is a groundswell to get them introduced, perhaps a petition is in order.

One concern that I have is this - The size and nature of the Ottertail flowage, and other projects that are in progress.

If you introduce muskies, what/where/how do they migrate? They could get up to the dam at Rush and probably stop. I could see them getting into Deer, East Lost, West Lost, and beyond, easily. How far up the Dead River could they get? Dead, Star perhaps? Will they go into Balmoral creek and get into Blanche? I really dont know.

I already mentioned the pike slot and the sturgeon program on Ottertail proper. There is an excellent population of smallies farther downstream that has really taken hold. Will muskies affect this? I have no idea, but it would be good to know.

I am neither for or against muskie in OT, but think any more tinkering with the lake should be approached with caution to make sure it will not throw an unforseen monkey wrench into the works.

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Along with the 47"er mentioned above, a good friend of mine caught and released a 49.5" on the otter tail river W of fergus. I got to see a picture of it, very nice fish.

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Chuck,

There's no doubt there would be introduction of fish to other lakes thru the flowage. But, the numbers would be extremely marginal, and not enough to impact any other fisheries that might not be able to carry muskie. Nature takes care of that. Plus, they're big water creatures, they like big water, and perfer to stay in it. But, there's no question there would be fish that make their way down to Rush, or Dead.

A petition is a good idea. I gotta look into that.

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In 2003 I've seen muskie fingerling in Rush lake that a friends 11 year old kid caught seining for minnows. My theory was some muskie fisherman put them in. That's because I know a few guys who fish them and have lake places, in a different area, have thought of it. They say most people don't want muskies in "their lakes" because they will eat the walleyes and will bit kids swimming. According to them, muskies prefer soft vertebra fish and not kids. All I know is the way people act in their boats who knows what else is going on. You know if there were muskies in O.T. today people would blame them for the slow bite on the lake. I think we should leave it to the DNR, not to the guys who just want them.

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When northerns or muskies are in their fingerling stage of life, it can be very hard to identify the specie. A northern in the fingerling stage of life may look like a muskie, or a muskie in the fingerling stage of life may look like a northern. All I'm saying is I have seen and heard of some fish that people thought were muskies that were actually northerns when these fish were in there early stages of life. My guess is that you saw northern fingerlings in the seining net that day in 2003. Think about how many muskies would be in the lake right now if those were really muskie fingerlings. For that boy to net that many fingerling muskies in such a small section of the lake, in which not every fish would even get caught in the net as some would get out, is crazy to think how many fingerling muskies would be in the lake at the time. If those really were muskie fingerlings, you would be seeing a lot of mature muskies in the lake right about now.

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He caught just 2 at the same time and the thought of it did cross my mind about them being northerns. But the markings on their sides were diffidently up and down. I'm just reporting what I saw because there was a muskie reportedly caught after that. Now the question is how did they get there?

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When northerns are in the fingerling stage they can have weird bars or markings that would make you think they are not northerns. And 2 is a significant number for such a small area the boy was seining, and it would be difficult to catch them as they are very quick.

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Quote:
The norvegians luvvv keepin them 12 & 13 inch EYES for the Pan !

The Germans and Pollacks like the 11 inchers best.

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Hey Giss,

Last year on Blanche we raised a muskie right by the creek mouth that goes over to Annie Battle. There were 3 of us in the boat and all confirm it was a muskie. A mid 30 incher or so.

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I am against introducing any kind of invasive species into waters that they don't currently exist or if they do are low in numbers... To me that would be like introducing milfoil or zebra mussels into the lake... Why mess with a good thing? What is with humans thinking they can do better then mother nature? Maybe we should be pushing to stock walleyes in the muskie fishieries.. Other then trophy fishing for muskies, what good are they? Atleast we can eat the walleyes..

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i'd like to see OT stay as is and continue to improve as a big pike fishery. aren't big northerns just as fun to catch as a big muskie?

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I am against introducing any kind of invasive species into waters that they don't currently exist or if they do are low in numbers... To me that would be like introducing milfoil or zebra mussels into the lake... Why mess with a good thing? What is with humans thinking they can do better then mother nature? Maybe we should be pushing to stock walleyes in the muskie fishieries.. Other then trophy fishing for muskies, what good are they? Atleast we can eat the walleyes..

Little do you know that almost every lake in Minnesota has been stocked with walleyes at one time or another. All these lakes that you catch walleyes on are not native to the lake except for a very few. So, if you are against stocking a lake with fish that were not at one time native to the lake, then you are against stocking lakes with walleyes to sustain a fishable population. Very few walleye lakes have natural reproduction to sustain walleye populations, so that is why lakes have to continue to be stocked so rapidly. So, your statement is hypocritical.

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I'm also against it if there up in the Ottertail area run overf to west battle Lake that has some huge muskies in it. I think they should keep ottertail as a walleye lake thats why people come up to ottertail for the walleyes and perch! I think with the big northerns starting to pop up we dont need to introduce muskies to the lake. I also agree with the if its not broken why fix it mentality.

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