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NYSDEC Chautauqua Lake Muskie Angler Diary Study


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NYSDEC Biologist Chris Legard is mailing me Angler Diary Books to have Muskie Fishermen record important information on Muskie Size,Fin Clips,Scars/Red Spot and date of catch for muskies caught on Chautauqua Lake.Each fishermen will at the end of the muskie season send their completed Angler Diaries directly to NYSDEC Region 9 Office,the DEC will record the information and return the books back to each fishermen.No one will see anyone's individual Angler Diary Book except the NYSDEC and all information will be combined to one study draft.

If your interested in participating in the NYSDEC Chautauqua Muskie Angler Diary Study please email me an address to mail the book to,[email protected] or Private LOU email

Thanks,Capt Larry

Edited by mostlymuskies
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Is the DEC ok with an in the water measurement? The last conversation I had on the subject with the region 7 guys left me frustrated as they wanted exact measurements of the tigers. This year I'm measuring them at least till water warms.

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Most important is Fin Clip Position,an inch or two either way off in total length will probably keep them in the same year class still,if they have the same fin clip.

Edited by mostlymuskies
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I'm looking forward to paying more attention to fin clips and the results of the study.  It may just be my perception, but I have always felt that our nicest (heaviest/healthiest/cleanest looking) Chautauqua muskies had no fin clips.  I don't think either of the big 53"ers caught/released last year had any clipped fins.  I know it's not always the case, but those fish without clipped fins should be mostly naturally produced fish.  Correct?  The study should also help determine a percentage of naturally reproduced fish in the lake.  I've heard percentages like 10-25% of the total population are natural fish in the past.

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Ivan,They really have no idea if there is natural reproduction at Chautauqua Lake.The reason why is because they start with thousands of muskie fingerlings,keep from that larger raised number of fingerlings only a portion to raise for stocking.Then the other 30,000 to 80,000 2.5 to 3" muskie fingerlings are dumped in to Chautauqua Lake at Prendergast Launch (their fins are not clipped)! So how many of those small unclipped fin muskie fingerlings survive to get big?Shocking studies have only shown fin clipped yearlings they say.I guess this Angler Diary Study should give us some good numbers on clipped vs unclipped and sizes with clipped fins to break down into year classes.When clipping if they do not clip off the whole fin,it can grow back as well.Some slip through the clipping by missing the cutter and slip out of hands unclipped at larger stocking fingerling size as well.

Edited by mostlymuskies
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I recieved the Angler Diary Books today and will mail them out on Monday.Chris Legard has asked if anyone runs across a floating dead muskie that they get measurements and cut the cleithrum bone out and save for the NYSDEC.They want to age a few fish and that is the best way.I will find a link to removing the Cleithrum Bone and post it here.I will also see if Mike Sperry can make Chautauqua Reel Outdoors Tackle a drop off Point for the Cleithrum bones.

Edited by mostlymuskies
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http://www.nefga.org/forum/showthread.php?27086-musky-cleithrum-bone-removal

I hope this link works to show how to remove the cleithrum bone!

Mike Sperry has agreed to keep and freeze any Cleithrum Bones collected at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors Tackle in Lakewood in the Dollar General Plaza on NY State 394.

Edited by mostlymuskies
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I also found out that the extra 2 1/2" to 3" muskie fingerlings that are left over after stocking fingerlings are picked to raise to bigger size will no longer be stocked in Chautauqua Lake but will be stocked into the Allegany River from Olean upstream.May be only trout food at that size!

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I will be mailing out the NYSDEC Angler Diary Books today to those who agreed to participate in recording Chautauqua Lake Muskie size,Fin Clip position,scars,red spot,angler hours & date.If you do not catch any muskies on a day please still record Angler hours.Anyone else that would like to be in the Angler Diary Study let me know and I will mail you a book.Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors Tackle will have some Angler Diary Books available as well.

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The NYSDEC will give me an address to mail the Angler Duary Books to at the end of NY Inland Musky Season,I will post that address here soon.No one will see your Angler Diary Book but Chis Legard from the NYSDEC and the books will be returned to you after data is recorded.

Edited by mostlymuskies
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I also found out that the extra 2 1/2" to 3" muskie fingerlings that are left over after stocking fingerlings are picked to raise to bigger size will no longer be stocked in Chautauqua Lake but will be stocked into the Allegany River from Olean upstream.May be only trout food at that size!

I wonder if we could talk them into adding them to what they stock at Waneta or putting them in Lamoka.

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Steve,M.I.Chapter 69 needs to make this request to put the extra muskie fingerlings into Lamoka & Waneta through Brad at NYSDEC Region 8.We need to send a formal letter with boards signing!But they may not do it due to the muskie fingerlings not having clipped fins when stocked.This is why they are no longer going to be stocked in Chautauqua Lake.I'm not sure if the fins can be clipped at that small size,probably not!

Edited by mostlymuskies
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I wonder if they are considered to be inferior, like the runts of the batch. If that is the case, it might be undesirable for them to be stocked in a body of water like Waneta, that is used for brood stock (occasionally) and also has some natural reproduction.

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They are not runts,just excess they do not Not have room to raise or the ok to raise!I believe all the unclipped fin mature muskies being caught on Chautauqua Lake came from those smaller unclipped muskies being dumped in the lake.They may not have many excess muskie fingerlings this year,seems like there are less small 1 1/2" match stick muskies in the inside tanks this year then on a normal year.

Edited by mostlymuskies
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I sure don't like the sounds of less muskies being stocked in Chq, even if they are the smaller fry/fingerlings that are being cut.  Why waste them in some creek that nobody targets muskies in...That is Pennsylvania's MO.

 

They are going to stop putting the little ones in just because they can't clip their fins?  Why?...So they can determine if there is natural reproduction or how much natural reproduction there is?

 

You don't think there's any natural reproduction of muskies occurring in Chq now Larry?  I feel like I catch a decent number of fish with unclipped fins every year.  You think those are all from the little fingerlings/fry and not natural?  Why do you think that?

 

Why wouldn't the NYDEC at least get a couple years of Angler Diary results back to see what percentage of Chq muskies have unclipped fins before making a decision to reduce stocking?  This doesn't make sense to me and quite honestly puts some doubt in my mind as to if I want to participate in the Angler Study if this is how decisions are made.

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First of all the extra muskie fingerlings were always traded to other states for other kinds of fish to stock in most years.It has been only the last 3 to 4 years that they dumped the excess into Chautauqua Lake because they had no other state interested in them.There have been years where Prendergast Hatchery has given Linesville Hatchery muskie fingerlings and also Linesville has given them to Prendergast Hatchery.They have always had a set number of muskie fingerlings they stock at Chautauqua Lake and other lakes,those numbers have not dropped and there are no plans to lower those numbers.The whole purpose of the Angler Diary Study is to compile data of fin clip position vs size of fish to determine if any one or more year classes of stocked muskie fingerlings have survived better then others.Then once a year class by size & Fin clip has stood out as a very good stocking year they can go back and see if different feed was used,colder water stocking etc. So as to fine tune the stocking effort for best success.This year I do not even see the Hatchery having any excess muskie fry.The return on muskies stocked in the Allegany River by Olean has been low I would bet they all most all move downstream to Kinzua to NY & Pa waters.

Edited by mostlymuskies
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Spring shocking studies of previous years at Chautauqua Lake have only came up with yearling muskies,with fin clips stocked the previous fall.If they believed there was 20 to 25 percent natural reproduction at Chautauqua Lake the season never would have been opened earlier this year with a May 30th Opener!

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One thing I know from a talk that Region 8 Biologist Brad Hammers gave Chapter 69 last year on the diary study for Waneta Lake is that fin clip information is important to them. He said that if they have the length and which fin is clipped, they can tell the year class of the fish. They clip a different fin each year in a rotating pattern. From that, and with data accumulated for the year as well as other years, they can get an idea of how each year class is doing. I would think that the more diary participants there are, the better the overall data will be. Brad also said that knowing the number of fish without fin clips will also give them an idea of how much natural reproduction there is.

 

There are a couple things I wonder about. One is that I have heard that there is not 100% fin clips with every stocking. The other is that muskies will sometimes grow back a fin that is clipped. I don't know if there is any truth to these statements. I am thinking that maybe there was a time that they didn't all get clipped but maybe they now have the procedures under control so that they can make sure all get clipped. If that is the case, Maybe they no longer want to stock unclipped fish in the lake so they can make a more accurate assessment of any natural reproduction.

 

I know that the DEC and the US Dept. of Fish and Wildlife have been working at enhancing the Great Lakes musky habitat in order to try and bolster the already naturally occurring reproduction. I have heard that there has been a lot of work being done to identify the ideal spawning, nursery and rearing habitat. I also believe the DEC is leaning toward trying to enhance natural reproduction in some inland waters through better habitat management. I would like to find out if that is their thinking. If so, maybe we will be able to help support the studies and habitat enhancements that will be needed to work toward that goal.

 

Larry, I have read that they have been supplying muskies to Vermont to stock in a couple tribs of Lake Champlain. I am not sure if it is fingerlings or fry.

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They did supply Vermont muskie fingerlings that were excess after stocking NY Waters a couple years ago.That was an above average year for Muskie fingerling survival in the outside ponds and there was an excess.The year before that there was a problem with feed change and the Hatchery lost a big number of muskie fingerlings in the inside tanks.That year they recieved muskie fingerlings from Linesville Hatchery in Pa.Some years there are excess and other years there are not.But they always have stocked the quota of muskie fingerlings allocated into Chautauqua Lake.

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All fin clipping is done slowly one little muskie at a time.Some may slip from ones hand before clipped and get through unclipped.Others that are clipped did not get the whole fin clipped,only part of the fin and those maybe grow back.Your talking about a handful of hatchery personal clipping thousands of muskie fingerlings,some slip through.

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Those in the Chautauqua Lake area can get an Angler Diary Study Book from Chautauqua Reel Outdoors Tackle at General Dollar Plaza on NY Route 394 in Lakewood,NY.

I can also mail one your way if you would like to participate in the Chautauqua Muskie Angler Diary Study!

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