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Spotted muskies to be stocked in Green Bay, Winnebago system

Discussion in 'Frontpage News' started by Steve, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. Steve

    Steve Staff Member

    Spotted muskies to be stocked in Green Bay, Winnebago system


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    GREEN BAY – Wisconsin’s effort to reintroduce Great Lakes strain muskellunge to Green Bay and the Winnebago system already has anglers catching bragging-size muskies, and those popular fisheries will get a boost this week as nearly 900 large yearling fish are to be stocked at about a dozen sites.
    The musky, also known as “spotted” musky, will be stocked in the Fox, Menominee, and Peshtigo rivers, in Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, and Sand Bay. Little Sturgeon Bay, Suamico, Little Lake Butte des Mortes, and Pensaukee, Poygan, and Butte Des Morts lakes, according to Mike Donofrio, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor at Peshtigo.
    The fish are 20 to 24 inches long, having grown bigger at the old Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery while awaiting the green light for stocking. They were originally planned for stocking at a smaller size in spring 2007, but were kept at the hatchery longer to assure they were free of a new deadly fish disease, viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS.
    The discovery of VHS in fish from the Lake Winnebago system, Green Bay and Lake Michigan in May led the Department of Natural Resources to halt stocking while it reassessed the risk of transmitting the disease. It also led the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to quarantine three state fish hatcheries, including the old Wild Rose facility, because they had received eggs or fish from waters connected to where VHS had been detected.
    Subsequent tests of fish for stocking, hatchery water supplies and broodstock have all been negative for VHS and stocking has continued from the three facilities and other DNR hatcheries after meeting new requirements imposed by DNR and triggered by the quarantine to assure the disease was not spread.
    DNR, with support from local fishing clubs, launched efforts to reintroduce the Great Lakes strain muskellunge into Green Bay in 1989 and later expanded that effort into the Winnebago system, which is in the same basin. The fish have grown very fast in the favorable conditions of those large waters.
    Great Lakes strain muskellunge are native to Green Bay and Lake Winnebago, but the fish were extirpated in the bay during the mid-1900s by over-fishing, pollution, habitat degradation, and interactions with exotic species. Passage and enforcement of the Clean Water Act starting in the early 1970s, followed by targeted clean up efforts in Green Bay, greatly improved water quality and allowed DNR to start the reintroduction effort, Donofrio says.
    Fertilized muskellunge eggs originally from Michigan were hatched and raised at the Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery and stocked out from 1989 through this fall at sites including the Fox, Menominee, and Peshtigo rivers, Little Sturgeon and Sturgeon bays, Little Lake Butte des Mortes, Green Bay and the Winnebago system.
    DNR electrofishing and fyke nets surveys have revealed that the reintroduced fish mature up to two years later than muskellunge in some inland Wisconsin lakes but grow faster than muskellunge sampled in eight lakes in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The muskellunge also achieve a more plump body size at a given length compared to most muskellunge sampled elsewhere throughout their range, Donofrio says.
    Anglers are now reporting catching large fish in the 45- to 50-inch range, and one angler reported to wardens he caught a fish he measured at 55 7/8 inches with a girth of 33 inches. A fall fishing tournament for the Great Lakes strain musky is set for this weekend in Green Bay. In only its second year, tournament registration has more than tripled from the inaugural year and is up to 50 anglers, Donofrio says.
    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Donofrio (715) 582-5050