How did Green Bay muskies get their start?

Ever wonder how the Green Bay Musky program started?  After some research here is a Green Bay Great Lakes Spotted Musky Management Plan 2012.  I know 2012 is a long time ago but it does give the fisheries origin and original plan.  For you Green Bay fisherman it is a good read. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) in cooperation with several local musky clubs and the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin initiated a Great Lakes strain muskellunge reintroduction program in 1989 in the Green Bay waters of Lake Michigan. Muskellunge in southern Green Bay were decimated during the early to mid 1900s by habitat destruction, pollution, and over-exploitation. The need to re-establish a native inshore predator fish species has been identified in several planning efforts including the Lake Michigan Integrated Fisheries Management Plan and the Lower Green Bay Remedial Action Plan. A three-phase plan was drafted by WDNR biologists to re-establish a self-sustaining population of muskellunge in Green Bay: (1) identify an appropriate egg source, obtain eggs, and successfully hatch, rear and stock fish, (2) establish an inland lake broodstock population, and (3) develop a self sustaining population in Green Bay.

Phase 1 included the collection of gametes from the Indian Spread Chain in the lower peninsula of Michigan, a tributary system to Lake Huron. In cooperation with the Michigan DNR, gametes were collected and brought to the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery from 1989-1993. In 1996, additional spawn was collected from Lake St. Clair to increase the genetic diversity of the population. Fish health issues and funding delayed further feral muskellunge collections from 1997-2004. In 2005, WDNR pursued an agreement with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) to collect gametes from Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. In 2007, WDNR signed a five year agreement with OMNR to collect gametes and raise those fish at Fleming College for eventual transfer to Wisconsin. Those efforts led to transfer and stocking events in 2009-2010.

Phase 2 was initiated with the stocking of muskellunge fingerlings into Long Lake in Waushara County, Wisconsin from 1989-1992. From 1995-2001, Long Lake was the main brood source for the reintroduction effort. In 2002 the WDNR discontinued the use of Long Lake as a broodstock lake. In April of 2009, three new inland lakes were stocked with muskellunge from Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, in order to establish brood populations.

Phase 3 began with the stocking of Great Lakes muskellunge in 1989 and subsequent stocking events through 2010. To date there has been no significant recruitment from natural reproduction of muskellunge documented in Green Bay or the Lower Fox River. However in 2008, two young of the year muskellunge were collected from the Lower Menominee River and in 2009 young of the year muskellunge were captured in both the Lower Menominee River and in Sawyer Harbor, Sturgeon Bay. Tissue samples have confirmed these individuals are genetically consistent with Great Lakes spotted muskellunge, confirming the first evidences of natural reproduction.

Gregg Thomas

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