Muskellunge, or muskies, are prized for their size and fight. However, fishermen don’t often tie into the species. Michigan is trying to change that.
Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources stocked 36,228 muskie fingerlings in 21 bodies of water recently to increase the odds of catching one of the top freshwater trophy fish species.
“We’re making great headway in our efforts to increase muskellunge fishing opportunities for anglers,” said Matt Hughes, DNR fisheries biologist.
Below is a chart of the locations that were stocked with 8 to 9-inch fish.
The DNR collects adult muskies in the Lake St. Clair/Detroit River system to harvest eggs and milt. The department rears the young at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan, the only facility in the state able to successfully rear the species.
Michigan has two natural strains of muskie, Great Lakes and northern. The initial hatchery program in the 1950s focused on the northern strain but has shifted to the Great Lakes strain in recent years.
The success rate of early efforts produced low numbers because the fingerlings were reared in ponds and allowed to eat the natural food. Muskies are highly cannibalistic, so they often fed on themselves. The process used at the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery produces a higher survival rate.
“With time and experience, we’ve stabilized and increased production so more and more water bodies can be stocked,” said Hughes, who oversees the program at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery.