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

Save The River’s 29th Annual Winter Environmental Conference
February 3rd, 2018. Save the date! Or, better yet, sign up and lock in your attendance now. read more

Changing Currents; This Saturday, April 29th – Be There!
This Saturday, April 29th at 4:00pm Save The River is bringing the award-winning documentary “Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers” to the Clayton Opera House for its East Coast premiere. read more

Seriously?! NO Great Lakes Restoration funding, ZERO!
It is hard to comprehend, but . . . read more

“Animal Allies” – Muskie Restoration & Robots
Only if you come to our Winter Environmental Conference will you get the details. read more

Lawrence Gunther, President of Blue Fish Canada, to Speak at Winter Conference
Lawrence will share his experiences collecting fish habitat and sustainability stories from people throughout Canada who live by & from the water for the documentary "What Lies Below" read more

NYSDEC’s 2015 Lake Ontario Fisheries Programs
The anglers knew it, and the biologists had the charts to confirm it: last season’s fishing on Lake Ontario was officially lousy. read more

Plan 2014 needed to restore fish populations
"We know from scientific study that outdated water-level regulations have reduced our native northern pike populations on the river by more than 70 percent." read more

Free Fishing Weekend in New York
Governor Cuomo has designated February 13-14, 2016 as the state's first free fishing weekend where the requirements for a fishing license has been suspended. read more

Week 11 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 10 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

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