Dan Lazzeroni of Laona, Wis., is pictured with a 49.5 -inch muskie taken in Iron County. The muskie was live-released. (Ziegler photo)
By Bill Ziegler for the Iron County Reporter
IRON COUNTY—We are fortunate to live in an area with numerous fishing and hunting opportunities.
Fall is the season when hunting and fishing overlap, making it sometimes difficult to fit in all of the desired activities. Muskie enthusiasts and creel data indicate that muskie fishing success picks up in the fall.
The muskies are more actively feeding to build up energy for a long winter followed by spawning season.
One reason that muskie are so hard to catch is that their normal population is very low, relative to other game fish in this area.
A typical muskie population is only about 1/3 of a muskie per acre compared to other game fish like walleye or bass that often can have a population of five to ten fish per acre.
My DNR fish biologist’s aquarium studies on pike, bass and muskie demonstrated that muskies are finicky feeders. If the other game fish had not been fed within a day or two they would almost always immediately take a minnow placed in their aquarium.
When an appropriate sized forage fish was placed in the aquarium with a muskie, it would often not take it for several days, even though it had not eaten recently.
For these reasons, it is good to pursue muskie when they are most actively feeding. Most muskie anglers report the best success post spawn in later May and June and then again in the fall feeding period.
Muskies are capable of attaining trophy size, although under normal forage conditions it takes them a long time to attain that size.
Research in Wisconsin found that most of their trophy muskies were 15 years old or greater. Michigan DNR has always had a modest muskie rearing program that can only produce a limited amount of muskie fingerlings statewide.
As a result, Michigan DNR Fisheries placed a statewide 42-inch minimum size limit on muskie to protect valuable brood stock and let the muskie attain a quality size.
Wisconsin DNR has typically had varied inland muskie size limits regulations although in recent years, they are moving toward similar quality size limits.
Muskie anglers are very fortunate that most of our muskie fisheries in local waters are currently self sustaining.
We have over 35 muskie waters in the Michigan border counties with Wisconsin and along the border waters.
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