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fish500

Catch and release only for muskies.

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fish500

A large portion of the upper Mississippi has been changed to catch and release only for muskies. I have grown up fishing the river for muskies between the Brainerd dam and Little Falls. Out of all the years I have fished it and all the muskies I have caught I have only kept one trophy. I have released fish as large as 52 inches. The people I fish with have acted similarly. The people I fish with have released fish that were much larger. Occasionally, a fish is caught that has badly damaged gills, and in those instances, those fish are kept and mounted or donated to the taxidermist.

The reason I had continued fishing the river was in the hope of catching a state record muskie. I have reason to believe that there is great potential that one exists there. This is based on fish that I and others I fish with have seen, caught, and heard about.

Since it is now catch and release only, my incentive to fish muskies there is gone. There is also a problem in that if I mortally wound a fish (which appears to happen 5 to 10 percent of the time) I will have to release it dead. Under these regulations, I feel that it is almost pointless and is unethical to fish for muskies there. I question the reasoning behind this change, and am curious as to how other people feel about it.

Thank you for your responses.

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river rat316

hmmmmm total c&r? Not one over 45" or 50" Don't totally agree with that. From where to where is it c&r?... and that potential state record... I highly doubt its in there, great forage base and genetics I know, but one thing these fish have that no other fish have is current, they have to fight that current... makes em leaner and meaner. I have no doubt theres monsters in there but there not gonna be as fat (most of the year smirk.gif)

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Keith_MN

It is now C&R only from the Blandin Dam all the way down to the Coon Rapids Dam. People will have to practice CPR and have a replica made.

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fish500

The regulation is from Blandin Dam downstream to the Coon Rapids Dam (its in the 2007 special regs for the Mississippi). This includes nine counties.

The question of whether or not the fish carry a lot of weight is a very interesting one. The majority of the fish caught are lean. Fish just over 50 inches commonly have a 20 to 22 inch girth from where we fish, but this is where it gets interesting. Two fish measured at 47x25 and 48x26. Other fish with large girths have been caught and released but not measured, and many very large fish have been seen that had very large girths. One fish has been released with a large girth and over 55 inches in length. In 2004 or 2005 a taxidermist mounted a 55 inch 50 pounder for the DNR in Little Falls (I saw the picture and this should be verifiable). He told me it was a legitimate fifty pounds and he had personally seen it weighed. It had washed up against the Little Falls Dam almost dead, and was picked up.

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river rat316

Quote:

He told me it was a legitimate fifty pounds and he had personally seen it weighed. It had washed up against the Little Falls Dam almost dead, and was picked up.


My point exactly, even Muskies in the big river dont get to lead the lazy life that lake bound fish do, to have a fish that big would also make them extremely old, there might be a slight possibility in the fall of one APPROACHING the state record but I highly doubt it. If your after the state record I can think of 3-5 bodies of water I would target over the river. The thing about the river is less pressure easier to get away (most of the time that seems to be dissapearing though to). GO fish the other 3-5 bodies of water if your a record hunter, theres only a couple hundred people doing the same exact thing all the time smirk.gif

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fish500

I wouldn't assume that the fish was dying of old age, especially since it had a large girth. Fish with large girths relative to length are healthy fish. a 55 incher that weighs 50 pounds would have a girth approaching 30 inches. Also, as far as potential is concerned, how many fifty pound muskies have actually been weighed out of the other bodies of water. The state record has stood for so long because waters in Minnesota produce muskies that are "just about" that big. I think the river has great potential to hold a record especially with a fish that was actually weighed only 4 pounds off.

When you say fish in the big river, I assume that you are talking about the larger part above the dam. Actually the DNR has found that the muskies migrate up and down the river through tagging.

I agree that a lake like Mille Lacs also has great potential for a record muskie, but I am set up to fish the river, and I live near it. I can't afford the equipment necessary to effectively fish Mille Lacs or the gas to drive their very often. The sport is becoming more elite. I guess that's alright as long as you are not the person who loses out this time, but someday it will be you who loses out if things continue to go this way.

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river rat316

I think there was 4 that I know of this fall that approached the record, theres also been some pigs caught out of Vermillion and a couple other lakes up that way, by no means am I saying it "can't" happen in the river, I just find it highly unlikely considering all they have to deal with in the river, and by big river I meant the whole thing grin.gif. hopefully I get a chance to go up there and chase em more this year, my 1 time I got up that way last year was more of a multi species day grin.gif I just can't turn down a chance to fish smallies smirk.gif

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gorrilla

Its funny to think how many 3-5# smallies a 40 lb. musky would have to eat to reach the record though, huh?

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smallie_hawgin

So lemme understand your thinking Fish500..... You don't like the regulation because you are a trophy hunter?? or you don't like the regulation because you feel it is not needed??

Harvest information suggests that incidental fisher folk are willing to take home that 40+ fish, regardless of weather it is a musky or northern. Granted a rege may not keep them from doing so but now there is protection in place.

The intent in this case is to preserve something unique, not to offer a trophy sport fishery per-se. If you really think about the value of regulations.... they are more social in nature. They try to influence our decisions rather than the fishes growth or structure. MN has been reluctant for so many years on implementing regulations and now we have some that are doing both the biological re-structuring (Lacs - LOTW, etc.) and the social components....

In the next 20 + years we will see increasing pressure on all of the resources we know and love..... Doesn't it make sense then to actually think "ahead" of the curve???? Rather than wait for the demise of the fishery first???

Just my .05 grin.gifgrin.gif

Gorilla wrote "Its funny to think how many 3-5# smallies a 40 lb. musky would have to eat to reach the record though, huh? " Shhhhhh they actually eat walleye.... c'mon man don't you know that??? grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif

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T-water

Rivers rarely have the record potential that the larger lakes have. I think we all have a bit of a response to the govt telling us what we can and can't do, but eventually we usually get used to it and are thankful, a few folks ignore the new regs. and make us glad that most of us do follow them. Fish500, I see your point but my guess is you'll continue to fish the river with as much zeal as before and if you do catch the record you and your fishing buddy will know it and it'll be a great story, just not one legitimized by the DNR. I guess I'd rather this happen then see guys dragging muskies out of the river to show a couple of buddies and then feed their cats.

Fish on river rats!

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fish500

Actually, no I will not fish the river for muskies anymore. Just to restate my point: I do not have the right to keep a large trophy any more, and if a fish is mortally wounded I have to release it dead. The first muskie I ever caught was 38 inches and the gills ripped out during the fight. It was a beautiful fish, and I got to watch it float away down the river dead.

If we want to protect a fish to this extent then I hope everybody realizes that it can just as easily be argued to shut down fishing for it all together. I know that from my experience, many more fish have been killed accidentaly than have been killed intentionally. The big difference now is that the accidental kills are going float down the river.

Maybe I should ask this question in another part of the forum (and maybe I will), but how can you ethically defend fishing if you don't use what you kill?

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Headwaters

Long time lurker first time poster. The MN DNR has done the right thing with the Catch & Release regulation on Mississippi River muskies. Good job DNR. I wish it would have been done many years ago.

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musky_tail05

I think this new regulation is a great idea. I voiced my support for it. That stretch of river has good potential, so hopefully we'll see that in the near future.

On a side note, that 55" 50(?) pounder is/was in the Little Falls fishing museum. I've seen it and it's quite impressive. Supposedly there's another one hanging around Blanchard Dam....

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BrianLucky13

Ive fished the river once and I saw one piggy!! Now next year when I fish it I might see 2 or 3 piggies!!! I love what the DNR did and I wish they would do that to some lakes that people are taking way to many muskies out of!!! There is no reason someone should keep a muskie unless its the state record, and if I did catch a state record I would just release it anyways!!!

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gorrilla

Fish500, all I can stress is sorry you don't like the reg, but that'll just make more room for the rest of us. I guess if your fishing for glory, then maybe your fishing for the wrong reasons. As far as ethics go, I and my buddies(more them than me admittedly) have released numerous muskies. I also did a creel surveys on the Mississippi and Lake Alexander during two summers with the DNR. I never once lost a fish for sure. I have witnessed two light to moderate gill bleeders which I can't gaurantee lived, but I know if I kept them they surely wouldn't have.

I did have a buddy who brought home a 41 off of Mille Lacs one summer that had a deep hook in the roof of the mouth, just in front of the throat that caused death upon hookset on a topwater. It just rolled over he said and that was it, no fight. It happens.

Just ask yourself how many guys overhandle a fish for pictures, a ride to shore for more pics, etc. when they know it isn't illegal for them to keep a large musky. I believe if they know its catch and release only it will help reduce handling time.

One last note: I had a buddy who caught a 51" in the late 90's in two feet of water on the Mississippi. It is still his biggest ever and he grew up fishing there and still does. The female had a radio transmitter antennae hanging out the cloaca. When we contacted the Fisheries Biologist( I believe it was Jerry Younk of Bemidji) we were able to find out it was the last musky alive in his study and was able to relay lots of info to us despite it no longer having a working battery. Among all the knowledge of river muskies he passed on was that despite the great size some of the river fish possess, the population levels have never been real high. As you can all attest, the pressure is light compared to lakes, but ever increasing. Just go near Crow Wing Park and witness the crowds. I think the C&R in this awesome river is necessary to preserve a world class fishery. Who wants just cats and walleyes???

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Wildwood

I'm glad the C&R regs made it. Now if we could just get them to run the smallmouth regs we have in Monticello all the way up to Grand Rapids that would be outstanding.

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Mark Christianson

I like the Muskie reg. Much more limited resource than the smallies.

No need for a smallie reg like that.

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river rat316

hmmm must have some different agenda on his mind grin.gif

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MSRiverdog

First Musky I ever caught I kept, cleaned and ate, 30" was a keeper by the rules in the 70's, and this one was 31 1/2, Mantrap, lost them on that lake as a kid a few time's. crazy.gifcrazy.gif Didn't care for it, maybe my hidden sportsman was telling me something, never kept another or would, no matter how big, maybe a 60"er, blush.gifblush.gif

Shortly there after joined Muskie's Inc. and learned what it was all about. I still have some of the Muskie's Inc mag's from back then (mid to late 70's, early 80's) lot's of people kept the fish back then and listed sizes in the mag. There was never the number's of 50"s that there are now either. I don't belong to Muskie's Inc. anymore but we can thank them for the fishery we have now, along with the MNDNR fishery's biologist's for what we have now (don't tell SH I said the DNR part). smirk.gifsmirk.gifsmirk.gif

I hate government intrusion as much or more than most but in this case I'll buy it. Dama I love that fish, there will be a new world record, it will come from Minnesota. You guy's just keep going to the lakes for em, they're bigger there. tongue.giftongue.gif

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fish500

Thanks for all the responses. I don't think all of my questions are answered yet, and they probably never will be. Would you guys support catch and release only on Mille Lacs too? Maybe statewide? I'm interested to know how people feel about this.

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Mark Christianson

Yes I would support statewide C/R.

A replica would go on my wall regardless.

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gorrilla

Me too, could you imagine the number of 55's in there if the 50-52's weren't heading home...

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river rat316

Maybe a one over 55" or something like that, so a new record could be verified, or move them to on the water verification if possible. As soon as the record was caught then they should move it to one over 60" and so on and so on blush.gif

You had a question about releasing fish that you know are dead, first of all I believe that in most cases if your fishing a c&r water for a certain fish you should not be allowed to use live bait, I know that not all deep hooked fish are hooked using live bait, but the majority are. I fish 3-4 times a week on the river or local lakes and can only think of 3 fish last year that I don't know if they made it or not. But I was on C&R waters so I didn't have a choice. I think people need to be taught better fish handling skills when they are releasing there fish. I see shore fisherman dragging them up on rocks, fly fisherman taking 6 minutes to land a 15" smallie in 80 degree water, theres no doubt that fish handled in this manner have a better chance of mortality. Bottom line is if people handled the fish better there would be way less floaters

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EBass

I'm for catch and release for muskies - and bass to. Well not white bass, but largies and smallies. I don't keep them any ways, so it doesn't bother me.

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T-water

I think muskies are a good candidate for C&R only, they grow slow and often struggle with the procreation, combine that with some people killing them because they think they eat all the walleyes and their high morbidity after being caught, it might make sense on a lot of water. I don't think I'd go out of my way to support it though.

Fish500 you asked about the ethics of fishing for something you can't harvest...not sure... I guess I see folk who fish as one of the reasons the fish exist in the first place, lots of the species in MN lakes weren't there 100 years ago. Also fisherpeople fund, lobby and volunteer to help maintain quality waters.

My fiance calls catch and release "torture and release" she probably has a point but she still likes to fish!

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