Muskellunge Management: Fifty Years of Cooperation Among Anglers, Scientists, and Fisheries Biologists

An Overview of the Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Project, Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

Gabrielle Gilchrist, Wil Wegman, Todd Langley, Paul Methner, Mark Newell, Chris C. Wilson, Kristyne M. Wozney, and Ian Young

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874462.ch61

Abstract.—The Muskellunge Esox masquinongy is native to Lake Simcoe, Ontario and historically supported commercial and sport fisheries. After significant overharvest, habitat loss, and ecological change in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Lake Simcoe population was substantially reduced by the 1930s. Despite extensive stocking from the late 1930s through to the late 1960s, Muskellunge were rarely detected beyond the 1980s, although the sport fishery remained open until 2005. More recently, restoration feasibility and habitat inventory studies determined that restoration of the Lake Simcoe Muskellunge population is a realistic management objective. The goal of the Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Project is to restore a self-sustaining Muskellunge population to Lake Simcoe through a long-term collaborative effort that includes habitat enhancement, rehabilitative stocking, and effectiveness monitoring. Rehabilitative stocking was initiated in 2005 and habitat rehabilitation efforts focused on critical spawning and nursery areas. Here, we provide recent results from early effectiveness monitoring efforts and identify challenges related to restoring Muskellunge and their habitats. These and other obstacles are being addressed through the ongoing partnerships that have guided this long-term restoration project to date.