Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Success

I haven't posted here in a while, primarily because my research efforts have been redirected away from muskies. However, I felt an urge to post here about a recent hard-fought success my buddy had.

In a nutshell, we had excellent fishing weather: breezy, cloudy, bit of rain, stable lake levels (though post-draw down). Fish should have been concentrated in a few areas, but apparently they didn't get the memo. Fished a solid 6-7 hours with nothing; no follows, strikes, or boils. I was ready to call it quits around 4:30 and grab dinner. Brandyn usually keeps us motivated during times of doubt and I didn't mention leaving again (call me somewhat fair-weather, or impatient during fall). We brainstormed about how to spend the remainder of our day and decided on a funnel area. Brandyn let me take the boat and I pointed the bow toward deep water where I was fishing a Bulldawg. Brandyn pitched a 10" Jake tight to shore along a lay-down. Suddenly I hear Brandyn chirp up about a "figure 8!!!!" (said emphatically and with a chuckle at the end). Thinking he was joking around I non-chalantly turned around and nearly had to push my eyeballs back into their sockets when I saw his rod doubled over and a fish headshaking like a helicopter about 2' down. The fish fought well, taking Brandyn from one corner of the boat, up and around the bow, and to the other corner where I scooped the fish into the bag. Sweet victory. Made the 4 hour drive (for me living in Chicago) somewhat bearable... ;)

OK, I guess that was the nutshell + the nut. Enjoy the photos. (I left the sky photo full-size to be used for whatever you wish. It might become my desktop picture! Gotta thank Brandyn for pointing out the lighting.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Link to catch-and-release study

Been a long time since I've posted anything here. New job and barely any fishing time has taken me away from this blog. I'll have to decide where this goes from here out because the work has finished.

Anywho, here's a link to the C&R study: Landsman et al. 2011

I go in for my oral defense next Monday. Here's to hoping it goes well!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

2011 Muskie Opener: Results

Yesterday marked the much anticipated opening of muskie season in FMZ 18. The extent of my fishing experience this season has been jigging micro-spoons through 7" ice holes and chucking tiny tubes in April and May once the lakes and rivers thawed. June 4th would mark the first time in 2011 I could cast something larger than my pinky finger.

I sharpened my hooks Friday, strung up my rods, tied on a few leaders, and slept fast. The plan was to fish one section of the Rideau River in the morning and another in the afternoon/evening.

We hit the water shortly after 7:30AM and blasted up the river in my friend's Stratos. The plan was to find good weeds, if possible. The water was 65F when we got to our first spot and I was delighted to see good weed growth. Eric was casting a bucktail, Hedrik tossed several lures, and I kept switching baits every 5 minutes until something "spoke" to me. I stood on the front deck and casted alongside Eric who, after about 30 minutes on the water, rifled a cast toward a wall of rip-rap. A couple of cranks into his retrieve and he reared back and set the hook. I scrambled for the net and waited for the fish to make its appearance. The fish suddenly appeared as it swam toward the boat and much to my surprise it was a lot bigger than I expected (this section of the river is not known for the size of its fish). A couple runs later and I scooped it into the net, which now held Eric's new personal best. A few quick pictures and the spawned out 44" female went back in the water and took off like a shot from a gun!

Lady luck was on our side and for the next 1-2 hours we had a nice run of action, boating two small sub-30" fish, losing another, and a couple of exciting topwater and bucktail follows. After moving to our third spot I decided to switch to a bucktail, despite catching a small fish on a glide bait. Eric questioned my decision and I didn't have an answer for him; it was just a gut instinct. Well, my instinct paid off as a fish came in hot behind my bucktail. I sped into my figure 8 and on the 2nd turn the fish grabbed my bucktail. My momentum was still carrying me forward and I instinctively set the hook away from the fish. Though the hook penetrated the fish's jaw, I knew it wasn't hooked well. I played the fish as lightly as possible and we after a couple small runs the fish was in the bag. Soon, the 42"er was back in the water and swimming away.

The rest of our day proved unfruitful. Although the fishing stunk (bad weed growth, poor water clarity), we were fishing in the most unique setting I have ever fished in. Instead of birds chirping and frogs croaking, the hum of cars and bike, whirring of roller blades, steady thumping of joggers were all we heard as we casted our baits on what is, in the winter,the world's largest outdoor skating rink!

When we finally made it home, my body was so sore I could barely move. Even lying in bed hurt! 'Tis the price we must pay for the sport we enjoy!

Tight lines folks.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why 90 seconds?

I feel compelled to write a post today based on a comment about this project I received recently. In short, the comment took issue with the use of 90 seconds as an air exposure duration in the catch-and-release study. What follows is my response (should anyone ever directly ask me).

By and large, specialized muskellunge anglers handle their catches similarly; we use nets big enough to fit over most 5-year old kids, "thief approved" bolt cutters, and pliers big enough to yank an elephant's tooth out. However, when it comes time to proving that we as anglers aren't liars, there is a high degree of variability. Some people adhere to a 3 picture maximum, or an air exposure duration equivalent to the length of time you can hold your breath, while still others prefer to allow others in the boat a chance to hold the fish and maybe take video. Bottom line, some fish are held out of water for as little as 10 seconds and maybe up to a couple minutes, depending on how someone chooses to "admire" their catch. Furthermore, this was evident based on the responses from surveys passed around to a couple Muskies Canada chapters. Ninety seconds, therefore, is not an excessive amount of time. Five minutes might be, but 90 seconds is probably not.

What did our research show? Ninety seconds is OK, though I will take this opportunity to say that it is always best for the fish to limit air exposure as much as possible. This doesn't give everyone the green-light to hold fish out-of-water for 90 seconds, but it should tell you that these fish can withstand that much air exposure. None of the fish we tagged in our study died as a result of angling, which suggests to me that these fish are much more resilient than some are willing to admit.

Now, trout on the other hand... you just look at those buggers wrong and they seem to die on you!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Diets of YOY St. Lawrence Muskellunge

A fellow muskie researcher, Kevin Kapuscinski, at the State University of New York - College of Environmental Science and Forestry has characterized the diets of YOY muskies in the St. Lawrence River. Click the link below (great URL for the blog) to see what these little tikes are munching on. Banded killifish would not have been one of my guesses!

Dr. John Farrell of SUNY - ESF runs the 1,000 Islands Biological Station on the St. Lawrence River. Some of the most important research on St. Lawrence muskies have come from Dr. Farrell, his lab, and the 1,000 IBS. I would love to see the station some time; what a setting to carry out your research on! Take a look at the station's website (1,000 Island Biological Station) and peruse the photo gallery for really cool fisheries research photos, including the giant muskie captured below.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good News

The catch-and-release manuscript has been accepted for publication pending revisions. Favorable reviews with legitimate comments/edits. Cool beans!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Update: Walters and Musky Hunter

Long time, no post. Not much to report these days. Lots of data analysis, re-analysis, hair pulling, and re-re-analysis. A few days ago I left to help with a walleye telemetry project in Lake Erie/Lake Huron. We're tagging some great big Walters (walleye) on the Maumee River and (soon) the Tittabawassee. These are part of my duties as a research assistant. I consider myself pretty darn lucky!

Dr. Karen Murchie making a small incision to insert an acoustic transmitter. This fish will enable researchers to determine the movements of Lake Erie/Huron walleye: project description.

In other news, if you can get your hands on the newest issue of Musky Hunter (April/May) you'll see an article on Ottawa River muskies with a bit at the end of the article on my research. I'm looking forward to working with Musky Hunter in the future to disseminate our findings.