Where Is Muskies, Inc...What Have You Done For Muskie Lately?
By Craig Sandell © 2018

As Muskie anglers, we owe a lot to the past practices of Muskies, Inc. Thanks to the efforts of Gil Hamm in 1966 and the original group of thirteen avid Muskie Fisherman, by 1969 the concept of “Catch & Release” and concentrated continual improvement of the Muskie Resource through rearing and stocking efforts, and sound conservation practices, brought Muskie angling into national focus.

It is doubtful that Magazines like Musky Hunter, established in 1989, would have come into existence without them.

side4Muskies, Inc. has stated their goals as:

·        To promote a high-quality muskellunge sport fishery;

·        To support selected conservation practices based on scientific merit and carried out by authorized federal and state agencies;

·        To promote muskellunge research;

·        To establish hatcheries and rearing ponds and introduce the species into suitable waters;

·        To support the abatement of water pollution;

·        To maintain records of habits, growth, and range of species;

·        To disseminate muskellunge information;

·        To promote good fellowship and sportsmanship among men, women and children;

These are all laudable goals and, for a time, Muskies, Inc. embraced these goals. In recent years, however, Muskies, Inc. has been conspicuously absent from the halls of the Wisconsin DNR as it would relate to lobbying for enhanced Muskie stocking. The voices of Muskies, Inc. corporate have been replaced in Madison by the substantial efforts of groups lobbying for the curtailing of Muskie fishery enhancement in favor of Walleyes.

Don’t get me wrong, Walleye fishery health is important to thousands of Walleye anglers, but it should not over ride the health of our Muskie fisheries, after all the Muskie is the Wisconsin State Fish.

Throughout Wisconsin, rearing ponds formerly dedicated to Muskie, have been re-focused on raising Walleye. As a result, Muskie stocking across Northern Wisconsin has become virtually non-existent when compared to past DNR practices. It is also important to note that the DNR has in the past, in violation of its long-standing policy, mixed Muskie brood stock, resulting in Muskie with a genetic pre-disposition of limited growth potential. The Wisconsin DNR has also disallowed tribal organizations and local Muskie clubs from stocking Muskies, citing “Muskie Strain Purity”, which is a specious argument given the DNR’s own practice of mixing Muskie brood stock.

So, what does Muskies, Inc. have to say about this “attack” on the sport of Muskie angling? In a word, “Nothing”! There are no criticisms of these DNR Muskie fishery practices coming from Muskies, Inc. Muskies, Inc. appears to be content to abrogate its leadership role advocating for Muskie fishery enhancement and, thereby, leaving Wisconsin Muskie anglers to “Twist-In-The Wind”.

Perhaps this abandonment of the goals of Muskies, Inc. has something to do with its dwindling membership. Less money coming in results in less advocacy in favor of the staffing of the organization, and the increasing cost of the publishing of its magazine…used as “Chest Pounding” propaganda rather than living up to the stated goals of the organization.

I am not talking about the local chapters affiliated with Muskies, Inc. These affiliates work hard within their communities to promote Muskie angling. Indeed, these local groups would likely exist even if they were not affiliated with Muskies, Inc.

So, what now? As Muskie anglers, will you continue to ignore the problem? Sitting at a local affiliate meeting and not demanding more activism from Muskies, Inc. will do nothing. Sitting in the bar and bitching and complaining about the problem will also do nothing.

More than ever before, it is time to ask Muskies, Inc. “What Have You Done For Muskie Lately?” Have you persistently lobbied Madison to change its misguided Muskie stocking policies? Have you put together a letter from your local club or Muskies, Inc. affiliate, signed by your members, demanding a change in diminished Muskie stocking practices and sent that letter to Muskies, Inc Corporate and the Wisconsin DNR?

As a Muskies, Inc. member, you joined Muskies, Inc. to have Muskies, Inc. be your voice in advocating for Muskie fishery maintenance and enhancement. Clearly, Muskies, Inc. has not lived up to that expectation.