Muskellunge Catch-and-Release - Strengthening the Fishery

Photo by Ryan CampbellMuskellunge, commonly called muskies, are one of the most sought after trophy game fish in the St. Lawrence River. Anglers come from all over the world in search of these amazing fish, which can grow to be several feet long.

However in the 1980s, muskie populations were on the decline because of over-fishing and habitat loss, putting the future of these fish at risk. And, recently, muskie populations have been severely impacted by a new virus, viral hemorrhagic septicemia or VHS.

Partnership Promotes Catch-and-Release

In the late 1980s, anglers, researchers and Save The River teamed up to encourage the catch-and-release of muskies, in turn, helping the population grow. Since 1987, fishing guides and anglers have caught and released over 1,000 muskies!

This program has helped to rebound muskellunge populations that have been declining since the 1980s. The effect of the VHS virus has made the Muskie Release Program more important now than ever. Replacing large adults back into the River will help to strengthen the remaining muskie population.

Tips for Successful Release

To limit stress on the muskie, anglers should:

  • Try to unhook the fish without removing it from the water
  • Cut hooks with wire snips on badly hooked fish
  • Hold the fish horizontally, NOT vertically
  • Cover the head of the fish with a damp towel to prevent thrashing if removed from the water
Photo by Colby Bowman
Photo by Colby Bowman
Photo by Colby Bowman
Photo by Colby Bowman

Limited Edition Reward for Releasing a Muskie

Save The River and the SUNY ESF Thousand Islands Biological Station, and local fishing guides have teamed up to offer anglers a limited edition signed Michael Ringer print to anglers who have caught-and-released a legal sized muskie.

The only way to get your hands on one of these prints is to certify that you have caught and released a legal sized muskie. To claim your print:

  • Download the Muskie Release form or call Save The River or check with your fishing guide to receive a copy.
  • Fill out the form and have two people who witnessed the release sign it.
  • Return the form to Save The River.

As soon as we receive your form, well send you the limited edition Michael Ringer print The Strike! to commemorate your fish. This print is only available to anglers who have participated in the Muskie Catch-and-Release program.

Thank you to our program partners!

The Muskie Catch-and-Release program would not be possible without the support of our partners. Many thanks to:

Latest News

Plan 2014 is a modern water levels plan that will restore 64,000 acres of severely degraded wetlands. Restoring the vital functions they provide like critical fish habitat, and bolstering our recreation and tourism-based economy in the process. read more

Save The River Meets With Federal Agencies on Plan 2014
Our meetings were very productive. Representatives from each agency listened to our input and understand how Plan 2014 will restore our coastal environment. We thanked them for their time and thoughtful consideration read more

John Peach’s Fish Tale … in an Antique St. Lawrence Skiff
Muskie Catch and Release from an Antique St Lawrence Skiff Written by John Peach posted on December 13, 2014 I had just dropped back my antique Skinner Muskie spoon and started to pull on the oars of Perry, our antique St Lawrence skiff, when the reel on the pre 1920 wooden rod started to scream as line ripped ... read more

Want to Do Something Thoughtful for the St. Lawrence River this Holiday Season?
Let’s all voice our support for Plan 2014 to get the River what it really wants and really deserves… a healthy future. Write, print and send a letter to Governor Cuomo today. read more

A Bass is Too Valuable to Catch Only Once…
Check out this great article on our Catch & Release program written by board member, John Peach. read more

Save The River Launches New Catch & Release Program
Save The River has added Smallmouth Bass to their longstanding Catch and Release program on the St. Lawrence River. read more

Save The River Appoints New Outreach Coordinator, First Focus Promoting Catch and Release Program
Save The River announced today that Lindsey Leve has joined the staff as its Outreach Coordinator to promote their growing educational and advocacy programs. Lindsey brings extensive experience and background promoting programs and events for various not-for-profit organizations. She was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University ... read more

Practice Catch and Release this fall!
Peak muskie fishing season is upon us and Save The River would like to remind anglers to practice catch and release during muskie season. For over 20 years Save The River has been educating and encouraging anglers to use catch and release when handling muskies to ensure the future of this unique species in the St. ... read more

See our blog for more news!     

About Us

Founded in 1978, Save The River is a non-profit, member-supported environmental organization whose mission is to restore, preserve and protect the ecological integrity of the Upper St. Lawrence River through advocacy, education and research. Since 2004 Save The River has been a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance as the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper.

Learn more »

The River

The St. Lawrence River is one of the largest Rivers in the world and a magnificent place to live, work and play. Save The River has been working for more than 35 years to protect the River for current and future generations.

Learn more »

Join or Give

Over half of Save The River's budget comes from individual memberships and contributions. Supporting us with an annual membership donation will keep our River advocacy, education and research programs going strong.

Learn more »

Save The River was designated the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and is a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. The Waterkeeper Alliance is the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, with more than 200 local Waterkeepers patrolling rivers, lakes and coastal waterways on 6 continents.

Photos from around the River

Off to the races by Pam Quimby  Resting by Pam Quimby  On the Rocks by Nick Apel  Classic Sunset by Barb Hupp  TI Park Library by Meg Kerr  Fall by Carrie Kerr  Girls by Juliane Bauer  Winter Navigation by Sherman Ward  Off on the River by Jenni Werndorf  A Seaway View by Devon Colby 
 Pictures from our Flickr photostream

409 Riverside Drive
Clayton, NY 13624

(315) 686-2010


© Save The River 2014