Some interesting research I found
Rob C
Posted 12/20/2020 7:58 PM (#972812)
Subject: Some interesting research I found

Posts: 59

So tonight I got distracted from doing research on my own PhD project and decided to check out research on muskies. My distraction was fruitful, and I found a few interesting papers!

1. "An examination of Minnesota's muskellunge waters" (Younk et al 2007) found using cleithra data that the average maximum size of leech lake strain fish was 53 inches, with an absolute maximum growth potential of 61 inches. They also found on Leech Lake the average maximum size was 54 inches (big water = big fish?).

2. " Determining minimum ultimate size... " (Cassleman 2007). Using data from the cleithrum project the authors found average maximum lengths, and ultimate maximum lengths for multiple Ontario water bodies (AM/UM) to determine trophy fish standards. For Lac Suel this was found to be 55/58. LOTW 53.5/58. St. Lawrence River 54.5/62. St. Clair 49/51.5. I know for a fact that there have been fish taken out of these bodies of water that exceeded the ultimate maximum sizes calculated, so it would be interesting to see how the data would be changed if Cassleman could have included those in the data sets. I do feel like the average maximum size is fairly spot on though!

3. Cassleman 2007 also calculated the age in which muskies would reach the ultimate maximum lengths stated above. This was done in a "different" sort of way. The authors effectively allowed fish to live indefinitely, and see how long it would take for the fish to reach these lengths. For Lac Suel 39.5 years. LOTW 26.6 years. St. Lawrence River 24.6 years. St. Clair 21.2 years. Lac Suel is once again interesting. The authors note that the oldest sampled muskie lived to be 33 years old. How did fish longer than their calculated ultimate maximum size, at a likely younger age end up in Lac Suel? Was this a sampling error, or an error with their model? Would be a interesting subject for future research!

4. "Evaluation ... of capture and release by specialized anglers" (Landsman et al 2011). This research analyzed changes in stress signals within a muskies blood after being caught by muskie anglers, as well as delayed mortality of their release methods. They authors found (unsurprisingly) massive increases in blood stress signals compared to control fish. The first release method analyzed was the normal method of fast fight, large net for keeping the fish in the water and short photo time. The second release method was fast fight, net, hooks cut, and immediate release (no time out of water). The authors caught 77 muskies and monitored 30 of them after release. The delayed mortality rate was 0% (of the 30). The authors note that this delayed mortality was a surprise, with a high delayed mortality rate of 30% noted in one study, and a expected delayed mortality of around 5%. They also found no statistically significant changes in travel patterns within 2 hours of fish release. They concluded that the "normal" release method had the same effect on physiological stress on the fish as the water releases (I feel that this should be revisited, as this seems to be unlikely). Finally, the authors note that this data is for prepared muskie anglers only, and not general unprepared anglers.

5. The Landsman et al 2011 paper also cited the preferred water temperatures of muskies to be 77 degrees! I was skeptical of this, but after doing more digging it turns out this really is the case. The authors note that despite this being the preferred temperature range of the fish, it is also associated with an incredible increase in stress during any sort of physical exertion compared to fishing in lower water temperatures.

With frequent talk and debate about just how big muskies get, along discussion about how effective our release practices are I felt that these papers would be worthy to share to everyone.

Taking a break from the science, I would like to refer people who are interested in this type of information to check out Larry Ramsell's "Compendium of Musky Angling History". It is an excellent compilation of muskie lore, both fact and fiction.

Edited by Rob C 12/20/2020 8:40 PM
Posted 1/27/2021 6:11 PM (#974463 - in reply to #972812)
Subject: RE: Some interesting research I found

Posts: 390

Super interesting, thank you for sharing! Fellow PhD here, good luck with the thesis!

Edited by bbeaupre 1/27/2021 6:12 PM
Esox Chaos
Posted 6/9/2021 11:23 AM (#980501 - in reply to #972812)
Subject: Re: Some interesting research I found

Posts: 21

Musky biology info is always interesting!