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Time To Stir The Muskie Pot - - - 36 messages. Showing 1 through 10. Go to page: 1   2  3  4 
The Fisher
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Daily Subscription Msg 1 Posted: 11:02 PM 10/14/05 (CST)
I know this is walking on thin ice as emotions on the topic can be extremely high--and understandably so--BUT NONE THE LESS--a question keeps hanging out in the back of my head. (Please, no smart remarks at this point) : ) But the last decade or so has seen a tremendous move of guys seeking a real giant muskie moving away from fishing Wisconsin waters to fishing Minnesota waters. The largest reason I have been aware of was the large number of giant spawning female muskies being speared in the spring by legal spear fishermen or in ice houses. The dna/genetic deterioration of Wisconsin strain muskies with hatchery spawned muskies that are being used as fingerling stocks has also been blamed--but that has also always been suspect to many. For whatever reason, the year of 2005 saw a much better muskie crop in terms of size fish caught for Wisconsin than has happened in recent times. A one time fluke? I guess we will see. As we are all aware the spearing issue has good folks and less than honorable folks on all sides of the table. While trying to remove the volatility of the issue I would still like to have an opinion from those who spend a good amount of time on the water, and in particular if they are pursuing muskies, what have been your personal observations of muskie populations in terms of fish seen, hooked, boated, etc. on speared and non speared lakes--any differences in the Wisconsin or Minnesota waters? Has the spearing issue made a difference in your choice of waters fished? Again, not wanting to stir a pot but am really interested in having quality muskie fisheries and appreciate input from those who are on the water and see what happens on a daily, weekly, yearly basis. Do you see differences from 10 years ago if you have any waters you have fished that long?

Good Fishing,

Jason "The Fisher" Pence
The Fisher
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Daily Subscription Msg 2 Posted: 08:35 PM 05/23/06 (CST)
Well this is bumped as no one responded and it was posted in October of 2005. I have also had further considerations as to the comparison of Minnesota/Wisconsin muskie fisheries that are explained below. Anyone else with an insight please chime in--we need good ideas and common sense to improve the muskie fisheries.

Well no one has chimed in soooo, let me add a few more thoughts to the mix that currently has Minnesota waters trouncing Wisconsin waters on the issue of turning out real monster muskies.

1. Legal length limits. Wisconsin DNR states , "the minimum length limit is 34 inches with a daily bag of one, though regulations vary on many bodies of water". There appears to be little reason to have such a LOW LENGTH LIMIT--especially in areas where the waters have shown the ability to consistently produce 45-50 inch class fish if given a chance. Letting folks keep these smaller fish may bring in a few more tourism dollars in the short run--but by depleting a once great trophy potential you pay a price in terms of quality of fish available and total dollars spent in Minnesota as opposed to Wisconsin as the trophy potential is clearly tipped to Minnesota after years of the lower length limits. Conversely, the larger length limits that pervade Minnesota must be seen as a key in the excelling of the states muskie fishery.

2. Smaller bodies of water. Wisconsin has many smaller bodies of water (say 150-2000 acres) that hold muskies that are of above average size. My records indicate that I have boated 10 Wisconsin skis that went past the 20 pound mark that came from lakes under 300 acres. Those type of waters can not sustain the type pressure a larger lake/river can. My largest and most numerous catches of 20 pound plus skis still have come from larger bodies of water(Chippewa Flowage, Lake Wissota, Lake Holcombe, Mississippi River, Chippewa River, Lac Courte Oreilles, Eau Claire Chain,and Namekagan have been the most productive for me for Big fish)--but the over abundance of small waters in Wisconsin and their susceptibity to overfishing could certainly be a factor in the deterioration of the muskie fishery.

Well there are a few more observations in the muskie fishery debate of Minnesota/Wisconsin waters. Anyone else have some ideas of what may be a cause/effect on the fisheries of these 2 states? And if so, how has that played out in you choice of waters fished and where you spend your money on pursuit of esox?

Good Fishing,

Jason "The Fisher" Pence
AWH
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Daily Subscription Msg 3 Posted: 09:32 AM 05/25/06 (CST)
Jason,

You said "Letting folks keep these smaller fish may bring in a few more tourism dollars in the short run".

I think quite the contrary on this. I have never understood the purpose of such a small minimum size. I don't think anyone will choose their travel destination because of a 34" minimum. Wisconsin has a number of lakes where they have raised the minimum size up to 45" and even 50". When they raised the minimum size on these lakes, this actually has proven to bring more fishermen and therefore more tourism dollars. It does a couple of things. One, it draws attention to these lakes as lakes that have better trophy potential. And it also makes people believe that the fishing there is better. Whether it really is or not is another matter. I think it only makes sense to raise the minimum state wide rather than on just select lakes.

Minnesota is looking to raise the minimum statewide limit from 40" up to 48", Hopefully that will go through. With the added pressure that the state is seeing every year, it's definitely needed.

Back to Wisconsin. There are a number of people that believe that the size of the waters between Minnesota and Wisconsin are the main reasons for seeing so many more big fish in Minnesota. I would agree that this has some merit. But I believe it's much bigger than that. After all, there are a number of smaller lakes in Minnesota that produce some monster fish. Lakes that compare in size to many in Wisconsin.

So why is Wisconsin seen as the state with smaller fish? There are a lot of variables. Size limits play a part, spearing plays a part. But I believe these two things do not play the biggest role. I believe their stocking efforts have the biggest impact. Some lakes just aren't suitable to trophy musky potential. In my opinion, these lakes shouldn't even be stocked. But let's focus on the lakes that do have the potential, which there are many.

There's debate on the Wisconsin strain versus the Leech Lake strain. Many claim that the Wisconsin strain simply can't obtain the size that the Wisconsin strain can. I can't agree with this one. Leech strain may be able to achieve slightly longer lengths in a shorter period of time. But Wisconsin strain fish can get to giant sizes as well. Just look at Mille Lacs. Early 80s stocking of Mille Lacs saw Wisconsin strain fish. Many of the giants that you are seeing out there in recent years are the Wisconsin strain.

So if the stocking has a role but it's not the strain, what is it? Where they take these fish from is huge. Bone Lake has been a major source of fish for stocking around the state. These fish do not have the genetics to achieve maximum growth potential. The fish in Bone are slow growing fish. They simply do not have the genetics. Their genetics are not going to change by being put in a different body of water.

I don't have the biological background to expand on that too much. But there are stocked fish in Wisconsin that come from much better genetics than the Bone Lake fish. If fish are stocked with superior genetics, you're going to see bigger fish.

Aaron




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The Fisher
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Daily Subscription Msg 4 Posted: 10:54 AM 05/25/06 (CST)
Hey AWH--

I appreciate your insight and input. When I stated that "Letting folks keep these smaller fish may bring in a few more tourism dollars in the short run" it is largly based off what I have seen.

As an example we can use the famed Chippewa Flowage. Admittedly I have not fished the Chip the last 2 years --but as of 2 years ago the minimum length there for muskies to be kept was 34 inches. (Someone feel free to correct me to current lengths if that has changed on the Chip)
I agree most true muskie guys are going where they have a better chance to pop a big one (hence the migration to Minnesota). But in trying to increase the lengths there was INTENSE LOBBYING against it. I won't name names because I have much respect for some of the folks fighting for small length limits--I just hotly disagree with them on this topic. Many of the resort owners are also much against increased length limits--they have said the reason is that it will stop tourism dollars from coming from loss of the Chicago/Milwaukee area.

It seems they feel if they have waters that are speared AND long length limits then few folks want to pay to come fish when they can go to non speared waters with longer length limits and lots of big fish.

Again--your point is well taken--for you, me, and most serious muskie guys this is a no brainer--but the powers that be do not see it that way. The length limits come into play when it is a non muskie person fishing and they make an incidental catch--a 15 year old kid from Chicago comes up with garndpa to fish Lake Wissota for a week and pops 3 fish at 34, 36, 37 inches. He keeps them all as he has no idea how valuable they are to the overall fishery--nor does he care--this is pure excitement for him and some of the only fish he ever catches. This brings him and his family back year after year and there is the consistent dollar pay out that some folks see. If he had to release them they would not be back next year. At least that is how they are looking at it. If this scenario is played out say 100 times a year on a fishery then you just removed 300-400 muskies from the watershed that year.But also rebooked 50 rentals/units, etc. for the following year.

The smaller lakes can and do produce huge muskies--especially the ones where they have lots of fat carp to eat as food--but they can't take lots of pressure. So again the limits come into play. If you can not keep a fish under 45 inches then most incidental catches are also released, but if it is a 34 inch limit then you have say 30-50 guys aciidentally catch and keep skis from 34-40 inches a year on a 300 acre lake. Well you have just done some real depletion of the waters.

The genetics issue, as I understand it ,is particularly dealing with the lost pure Wisconsin strain. The hatcheries are not using them any longer as they are not obtainable--those fish are gone--so the story goes. In essence the muskies caught back in the 20's-60's were genetically pure and thus a larger top end fish was possible. The fish swimming now are supposedly a smaller version with little of the pure gentic strain-- or no pure strains left. Lot's of very technical data out there and worth researching if you are into hunting big esox. It seems true--but as was said earlier it has always been suspect to some folks. You can't get a thoroughbred by breeding shetland ponies--or a new world record by stocking fish that only have the genetics to grow to 45 inches. However, a true record class fish is obviously a freak of nature. I think it must be a sterile female that absorbs all the protein and energy of her eggs back into her body as the rigors of spawning would cut the size back. Just a thought--don't know if any science out there backs it or not. Lot's to learn I guess.

Last thought--Most muskie hunters are not keeping a fish reguardless of size so we spend money to go where our chances to catch big fish or a new personal best are at. Non muskie fishers are catching them accidentally and keeping them. Some of those folks fish there for that reason. The powers that be can make money either way they market. It seems to me though that it would be wiser to cultivate a trophy fishery and make money as opposed to destroy or deplete one and make money. I know where my dollars are going to go--and I think any muskie guy will do the same.

Good Fishing,

Jason "The Fisher" Pence
bobmusky
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Daily Subscription Msg 5 Posted: 11:36 AM 05/25/06 (CST)
Hey Fisher,good reading BUT,,,,people buy a Fishing License to take home fish to eat,,,,as long as it is Legal it is theirs case closed!!!!!That's where me and my uncuth Lawyer buddy part bways.I am an avid Musky Hunter no if's and's or but's about it .My living was as a Musky Guide,I fed my kids with the money I got from doing a good job.I have gone back in my Logs from 1968-2005 and find that I'm still catchin the same amount of Musky's each year BUT they are larger fish.From my stand point thi means that catch and release works!What bothers me is where are the smaller fish?Lots of fry planting going on but where are the small fish?I just reread that ,,,,small fish,,,,in a time of everyone looking for the Trophy I'm looking the other way.I don't think there is muc difference in MINN or WISC fishing,,,we could be one State if it wasn't for the Mississippi,maybe Record fish sizes wouldn't matter that much on which STRAIN of we are looking for .The only STRAIN would be choosing the TEAM Name,,,,MINN. PACKERS or the GREEN BAY VIKINGS.People live ina world of speed,,,,10 minute Oil Change,1 Hour Photo,Fast Food.Maybe the fish ARE growing but just not fast enough for us to get that Holy Grail,,,The World Record Musky.We have so many things,,,,GPS,Fishfinders,High Tech rods ,reels,and line that are just amazing,we have baits that will with stand a shot from a 30-06 and still catch fish,boats that get from A to Z faster than a speeding bullet.We have former Guides that write books,have classes,and have films that are worth an Academy Award.I quit Guiding because of Cancer,,,since then I have slowed down,you know ,,,like a littlekid and have remembered how to PLAY,it puts the fun back in fishing.You look at Farmers,they have to compete in a never ending market of competition,BGH incows for more production,more fertilizers and pestcides to stay in the market,,,how is this effecting our fishing?I don't know but it is Beer o'clock and I've got to have one.Thanks for the Thread,,,oh ya,,,I think Spearing Sucks and it is killing Musky Fishing
AWH
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Daily Subscription Msg 6 Posted: 11:49 AM 05/25/06 (CST)
Jason,

Good post and well said. As far as the Chip goes, it now has a 45" minimum. Hopefully the positive effects of that will be seen in the future. I believe that was two years ago that it was put at 45".

I've heard the same arguements as you have for those that favor the lower size limits. It amazes me that many resorts feel the way that they do, as you mentioned. I don't know how someone that is in the business of making money wouldn't realize that they are hurting their own business by promoting lower size limits. If they are indeed keeping customers from certain areas (which I'm sure is true) because they can keep a small fish...are they totally blind to all of the customers they are LOSING because of the lower size limits? What they are losing will far outweigh what they are keeping. It's getting to be insane how many out of state guides are coming to MN for their musky season. Imagine how many clients they are bringing with them. These are tourist dollars lost to WI. Great for MN, as long as we remain proactive with our musky fisheries here. But that's a totally different topic. I will say that WI appears to be making stronger efforts as of late to improve their musky fishery. Hopefully they can improve things before it's too late.

I also agree that the lower size limits are not directed towards musky fishermen, but rather the nonmusky fishermen. This baffles me. Why do we stock muskies? Is it not because of the musky fishermen? Same can be said for walleyes or any other species. If there aren't people fishing for them, there's no need to spend money on stocking them. So if we're stocking fish for the group of anglers that fish for them, why would we set the regulations to cater to those that do NOT fish for them? This will never make sense to me.

Aaron


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AWH
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Daily Subscription Msg 7 Posted: 12:07 PM 05/25/06 (CST)
bobmusky,

"people buy a Fishing License to take home fish to eat,,,,as long as it is Legal it is theirs case closed!!!!" This is very true...BUT this is why the regulations need to change. If a regulation doesn't make sense, it shouldn't remain just because that's the way it's been. That's why regulations change every year to some extent. If you can improve things, improve them. I think the new walleye regulation in MN this year is going to be one of the best things to happen to walleyes in the state in a long time. The regulation I'm talking about is only being able to keep one over 20".

As far as a 34" musky being legal to take in many WI waters so it's theirs? I won't look down on someone that keeps a legal fish, even if I don't agree with it. But if someone is keeping a 34" musky, I can almost guarantee you that they are not educated on this fish. So taking the time to try to educate this individual is the best way to go. What possible reason could there be to keep a 34" musky? This is a regulation that simply makes no sense and one that needs to change.

I could have legally kept the first 40" musky that I caught. And at the time, I would have been really happy to do so. The thing looked enormous and I would have been very proud to have that thing on the wall at the time. But I released it. As I look back, it bothers me that I could have kept that fish. Because today, as a much more educated angler, I would have been very upset to be looking at that 40" fish on my wall. Although it was a "huge" fish at the time, through education I know that this would have been such a waste and a shame to kill such a fish.

When I look at it that way...I understand why people might want to keep an upper 30" musky if it's legal to do so and it's the biggest fish of their life. But if it's not legal to keep, are they really going to be upset? I really don't think so. And if they are, hopefully the fact that it's not legal to keep will help to educate them as to why it's so important to release the fish.

Aaron


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bobmusky
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Daily Subscription Msg 8 Posted: 01:23 PM 05/25/06 (CST)
727 Class A Musky Lakes in Northern WI.I'm in favor of putting a 50" Limit on any of these lakes to preserve the Species.I co and the chances of catching onensider any Musky I catch as a Trophy,but,a high limit would make the pain of 10-12 hours of casting wood ,feel a whole lot better if you knew they were actually there
The Fisher
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Daily Subscription Msg 9 Posted: 02:55 PM 05/25/06 (CST)
AWH--
Good points and well said. That is encouraging news about the Chip--if ever a water had the capability to put out giants if given the chance it would have to be there. That is REALLY emcouraging ! Maybe it will be part of a larger set of actions that will swing the pendulum back to larger Wisconsin muskies.

Bob Musky--
Thanks for throwing in your 2 cents worth as well. I think a 45-50 inch limit for most waters would be great as well. That thing you mentioned about being like a little kid again and enjoying fishing like playing as a kid--excellent--that's magic stuff when you can find and keep it. One thing that I would bring up though was when you stated, "I don't think there is much difference in MINN or WISC fishing."--For those who fish both states (lots of Hayward area guides now fishing Minnesota almost exclusively)there is a clear and obvious difference in the quality and quantity of opportunity to catch a larger fish--and more consistenly do so--in Minnesota. True the states border each other--but the handling of the muskie fishery within each states borders for the last 10-15 years has been radically different and is showing Minnesota to be superior. Agreed that catch and release works and is a real helpful tool--so put in place laws requiring the release of everything under 45-50 inches and lets see how much more effective the tool becomes in producing quality muskie fisheries.

One slightly offbeat thought is this--It would seem that the Minnesota muskie hunters would be very vocal about upping the overall Wisconsin size limits. For one thing it would increase the number of fishable waters they could target with a good shot at a big fish. The second is that it would remove some of the pressure from their local waters as more of the Wisconsin guys would fish close to home with the improved fisheries. Just a thought.

Great comments, input, and thread guys! Keep it coming--

Good Fishing,

Jason "The Fisher" Pence
CrappieKeith
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Daily Subscription Msg 10 Posted: 10:18 AM 05/26/06 (CST)
Any of you guys fish Bone lake in Wi.? As a kid my dad & I went there. We saw some huge muskies there.



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Time To Stir The Muskie Pot - - - 36 messages. Showing 1 through 10. Go to page: 1   2  3  4 
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