The Wisconsin DNR recently sent out its annual self serving
notice regarding the “Good News” about the increase in Musky
angling in Wisconsin. The notice included a link to the “2012
Muskellunge Management Update” from Madison which is authored by
I am sure that Mr. Simonson is a
very nice person and he has penned an interesting information
document…unfortunately it is long on estimates based upon opinions
rather than on verifiable facts.
His report claims that 480,000
people in Wisconsin are fishing for Musky…C’mon Man.
How did he come up with that
number?...Well, the number is based upon a
survey of fishing license holders which asked if they fished for
Musky. No distinction was made between the fisherman who is
using Walleye or Bass tackle to fish for Musky and the
dedicated Musky angler who, unlike the Walleye and Bass angler, will
continue to fish for Musky regardless of the lack of action or
A better evaluation method would have been to speak
with the registered guides in Wisconsin and ask them how many of
their clients retain them to guide solely for Musky.
better way would be to require a Musky tag on Wisconsin
fishing licenses with the funds going directly to support
the enhancement of Musky fisheries rather than into the
general fund. Of course the WDNR
doesn't want to do that...they would have to justify and
account for how the money was actually used.
The survey that
was used had no
qualifying criterion regarding what makes an angler a Musky
angler. For example, an angler would be considered a
dedicated Musky angler when;
tackle, rods, reels, and lures that are specifically designed
for Musky fishing.
He is a
member of Muskies, Inc.
He subscribes to Musky Hunter Magazine.
He owns a
net that could hold a 6 year old child.
He fishes exclusively for Musky at least 4 weeks of the Muskie
some realistic method to determine who was and who wasn’t a
dedicated Musky angler, the 480,000 angler number has absolutely no merit.
Mr. Simonson also
alludes to the use of creel surveys to support the outlandish
the WDNR relies upon creel surveys as an indicator of
fishing pressure. Creel surveys, however, are
NOT a very accurate
assessment of fishing pressure or angler numbers. There is an article on Musky
America regarding the flaw in the use of creel surveys titled “How Many Casts…How many
Anglers?” which I encourage all of you to read.
bottom line is that creel surveys do not offer verifiable results
when it comes to Musky, especially with the current low harvest
rates…bar talk is a better assessment of Musky success on the water.
Mr. Simonson also refers to
information obtained from Muskies, Inc. regarding the definition
of what constitutes a “Trophy” Musky. He is relying
on the opinions of an organization that has encouraged its
members to abandon the concept of a trophy Musky as an angler’s
personal best and replace it with the unrealistic application of
a 50” Musky as a trophy. His opinion paper goes on to indicate that a
Musky that is 50” is at least 17 years old.
about it…that musky has had to avoid predation by other
Musky or Northern Pike, avoid injury through boating
encounters, avoid water born disease, avoid capture and
if captured, survive the release process. Regardless of
the classification of a body of water as a trophy water, the
likelihood of encountering a 50” musky by the average
Musky angler is slim at best…especially when you
consider that most Musky anglers have jobs and family
responsibilities that limit their time on the water.
The glaring flaw in the "Good
News" in Mr.
Simonson’s opinion paper concerns the apparent lack of concern
for the health of the forage base when harvest rates are driven
artificially low through the unrealistic size limits that have
been advocated by the lobbying of vocal minorities in the Musky
community rather than by competent science.
Another article on Musky America
Harvest” addresses the near collapse of the bone lake
fishery due to a lack of consideration for the forage base.
Given the fact that fewer Musky
are being harvested, there is obviously more pressure placed
upon the forage base. Mr. Simonson includes the chart below to
the importance of prey to the health of a Musky fishery.
As can be seen
from the chart, the assessment is 18 years old but even from
this outdated data some
conclusions can be gleaned. A very small number
of game fish are represented as comprising the diet of a Musky.
have to eat to live, if the forage base is in decline, the Musky
will target game fish. It is an unavoidable fact that with fewer
Musky harvested there will be more pressure on the forage base
and the game fish population.
If the forage base is not allowed to recover through natural
reproduction or by stocking, the size and health of the Musky
population will begin to decline as will the other game
the WDNR when they last boom shocked your favorite Musky
lake to assess the health of the forage base.
So what is
the bottom line assessment of Mr. Simonson’s Musky management
assessment of the number of Musky anglers is an artificial
estimate based upon opinion rather than fact.
characterization of what constitutes a trophy musky ignores
the fact that most Musky anglers will never see a 50” Musky
given their limited time on the water.
ignores the increased pressure placed upon the forage base
by the unscientific size limits for Musky. (Slot limits would be a better approach.)
opinion this 2012 Musky Management Update is not worth the time
or money it took to produce it. It is short on facts and long on opinions
and estimates based on bad or no science.
If this is the best the WDNR
can do with the funds it gets, our Musky fisheries are in real trouble.
Mr. Simonson's Email address is: