Abstracts; International Muskie Symposium
2005 International Muskie Symposium Abstracts
Published October 25, 2005
Analysis of 40 Years of Lake St. Clair Muskie Fishing Records
Michael V. Thomas and Robert Haas
The Michigan-Ontario Muskie Club (MOMC) has been the major organization representing muskie anglers in the Lake St. Clair area since the 1950s. Among other activities, the club sponsored derbies or tournaments each year. Through the years, catch records were diligently maintained by club officers. These records present a historical documentation of trends in the muskie population and muskie fishery of Lake St. Clair over more than 4 decades. In this paper, we analyze MOMC catch records for trends in the context of changes in the ecology of the lake and fishing regulations. With permission from the club, we conducted a time series analysis of: 1. the single heaviest fish entered in all club events within each year 2. the ten heaviest fish entered in all club events within each year and 3. the top 250 heaviest fish entered in all club events across the time series. Our analysis revealed a consistent pattern of heavier fish in the catch since 1990. This coincides with significant ecological and regulatory changes during the 1980s. Additionally, voluntary catch and release of muskie became widely practiced by Lake St. Clair muskie anglers during the 1980s. We submit that the MOMC catch records provide valuable insight into the response of the Lake St. Clair muskie population to ecological and regulatory changes. We encourage other fishing clubs and organizations to carefully record their catches. Similarly, we suggest that resource management agencies can glean useful data from well-maintained catch records of fishing groups when they are available.