Muskellunge Catch-and-Release - Strengthening the Fishery
Muskellunge, 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
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:
- SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Thousand Islands Biological Station
- Michael Ringer
- St. Lawrence River Fishing Guides
- Ande Monofilament
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Practice Catch and Release this fall!
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