Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Muskie Trapnetting Survey Details and Pictures

We met up with Wayne Herndon and Rob Hilsabeck early Tuesday morning at the Spring Lake boat ramp. The gameplan for the day was to check and empty all 30 of the big commercial fishing trap nets that were setting out all night in the Lake.

We ended up catching literally thousands of fish, turtles, and an otter in the nets, but we were mainly after Muskie. The water temps are right at 50 degrees in Spring Lake, and the Muskies are charging the shoreline ready to spawn. Our mission was to collect all of the Muskies and take them back to Jake Wolf State Fish Hatchery.

At the Hatchery the Muskies lengths, weights, sex and tags were recorded and then they were seperated into holding tanks. The females were bursting full of spawn. Their eggs will be stripped, fertilized, and incubated indoors at the hatchery. Once they hatch, the baby muskies will be released into growout ponds for the summer and then stocked all across the state of Illinois this fall.

With just 30 big females, the staff at Jake Wolf Hatchery can supply the entire state with muskie for stocking. That facility is quite simply amazing! They are raising hundreds of thousands of Salmon and Trout to stock into Lake Michigan, and 13 other species of fish to stock across the state of Illinois. I highly recommend anyone to take a day trip to the hatchery, you will be impressed!

Anyhow I was able to take a few pictures throughout the day of trapnetting, but we were able to film the entire event as well. Editing the video will take a few days, but I will definitely get it online ASAP!

Altogether we collected 17 big females and 77 average male musky.

The biggest female muskie was 25.7 lbs! She was FAT!

The average male was about 12 lbs.

We also collected several largemouth bass from 1-5 lbs and thousands of crappie and bluegill.

This otter was unfortunate to get caught in one of the nets as well, he couldnt breathe underwater all night long.

It is just about time for us to get our nets out into the ponds! Spring Lake is so shallow that it warms up real quick and is one of the first lakes for fish to start moving in the spring. Once our water starts warming up, we will be doing trapnetting surveys for pond and lake owners all over the area.

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