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 Sovereign 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

Catch and release: Use care and common sense
Keep in mind that you are fishing to enjoy the experience and if you catch some fish the experience is even more rewarding. If you are going to keep some fish for the grill, just consider the circumstances and do it in moderation. read more

Week 6 Catch & Release Photo Contest Winners!
Thank you to everyone who submitted photos this week. This contest is open to everyone practicing catch and release fishing and you are welcome to submit as many photos as you would like. read more

Week 5 Catch & Release Photo Contest Winners!
We are pleased to announce this week's photo contest winners. We had many photos submitted to us by people practicing catch & release fishing and hope that this continues throughout the season. read more

DEC plans meetings on fisheries management for St. Lawrence River
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wants input from the public in the development of fish community objectives for the St. Lawrence River read more

Save The River’s Catch and Release Program Weekly Photo Contest
Submit your photos to our page of you or a family member practicing catch & release fishing for a chance to win a special edition sweatshirt and other special prizes. Every week one lucky winner will receive a sweatshirt generously donated by Ed Huck Marine and two runner-ups will also receive special prizes! Please include your ... read more

New Michael Ringer Print for Save The River’s Muskie Catch & Release Program
Save The River is pleased to announce that this summer, participants in the Muskie Catch & Release program will receive a new Michael Ringer print-Sovereign. read more

Muskellunge & Bass Fishing Seasons Opens June 20 on the St. Lawrence River
Significant muskellunge regulation changes are in effect on New York waters for the 2015 season, NYSDEC reminds anglers. read more

DEC Advises Anglers to be Aware of Spawning Lake Sturgeon
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reminded anglers to be aware of spawning lake sturgeon in New York's Great Lakes waters, Great Lakes connecting channels, and in tributaries of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, Finger Lakes and Oneida Lake. read more

Save The River Opposes Pre-Season Catch & Release
For the health of the bass fishery, the professional, amateur and casual angler, and for the economic health of the communities that line the River and depend on its health, we oppose pre-season catch and release for bass. read more

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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