fish of 10,000 casts

Fish of 10,000 Casts: Why Muskies Are Hard to Catch Leave a comment

In the event you ever hear a Midwesterner point out the “fish of 10,000 casts,” you will be certain they’re speaking about muskies. Each area in North America has its personal fish species that represents the top of angling prowess, from allow within the Florida Keys to steelhead within the Pacific Northwest. These fish are nearly at all times on the bigger and rarer aspect of the spectrum, which is a part of why they’ve turn out to be shrouded in thriller and idolized by anglers through the years. That is very true of muskies, therefore the nickname. However why are muskies so arduous to catch?

A workforce of researchers on the College of Illinois not too long ago got here up with some definitive, science-based solutions to that age-old query. They did this by finding out a gaggle of muskies in a laboratory setting after which fishing for them for 35 days straight in a managed surroundings. Their outcomes had been revealed within the North American Journal of Fisheries Administration late final month.   

How Researchers Examined Their Theories

This scientific inquiry into why muskies are referred to as the fish of 10,000 casts was led by College of Illinois graduate scholar John Bieber together with Bieber’s advisor, Dr. Cory Suski. Dr. Suski explains that the thought behind the experiment got here from the Illinois Division of Pure Assets, which raises muskies in hatcheries and releases them in water our bodies throughout the state. The DNR had been conducting netting surveys at one specific lake, and after seeing the sheer variety of muskies that lived there, they had been curious why catch charges weren’t increased.

So, the company loaned 68 hatchery-raised muskies to Bieber and Suski, who spent the following a number of weeks finding out these fish in a laboratory setting. Every fish was individually microchipped and positioned in a tank, the place the researchers ran experiments taking a look at 4 essential behavioral traits: exercise, aggression, boldness, and exploration.

A number of Midwestern states together with Ohio and Illinois have muskie stocking packages. Ohio Division of Pure Assets

“Fish do have personalities,” Suski explains, “similar to different animals and other people.”

After gauging and recording every muskie’s character, the researchers then took the 68 fish and stocked them in an experimental pond. The pond was emptied of different aquatic species beforehand, they usually crammed it with minnows so that every one the muskies had been content material and equally well-fed.

Then got here the enjoyable half. Bieber and Suski fished the experimental pond with standard gear for 35 days straight. They lined each inch of water utilizing each mixture of lure and presentation they may consider. On the finish of the 35 days, that they had caught seven fish.

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Classes Discovered from Muskie Fishing for 35 Days Straight

Suski says the most important takeaway from the experiment was that sure muskies had been extra “predisposed to seize” based mostly on their character traits. He explains that total, the fish they caught had been bigger, much less exploratory, and fewer aggressive than the others. This additionally falls in step with the species’ total feeding habits. As solitary apex predators, muskies prefer to patiently lie in wait after which ambush their prey immediately.   

“They simply desire to stay below a log by themselves,” Suski says. “We have now to mainly hunt for them and hit them within the face with a lure. And we are likely to solely hook them once they’re sitting nonetheless and quiet and are able to clobber one thing.”

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One other attention-grabbing lesson that almost all hardcore muskie anglers would echo is that muskies are extraordinarily delicate to angling strain. Out of the seven fish that had been landed over a 35-day interval, 4 of them had been caught throughout the first day of fishing. The muskies grew to become much less receptive to lures in every week that adopted. Suski and Bieber by no means hooked a couple of fish per day after that, and most days they walked away from the pond skunked.

Not one of the fish had been caught greater than as soon as, both, which reinforces the concept that muskies smarten up and shut off fairly shortly when lures begin flying of their course.

“They wizen up for certain,” Suski says. “There could possibly be a bunch of various issues occurring there, and the literature would say it’s the ‘noise of the angler’ they’re responding to. However [muskies] undoubtedly turn out to be extra cautious and fewer receptive when pressured.”

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Suski provides that the most important takeaway for the DNR is that catch-and-release practices are important to a powerful muskie fishery. The concept right here is that if some muskies are virtually uncatchable, whereas others have personalities that make them extra vulnerable to seize, anglers could have extra success within the long-term in the event that they launch the catchable fish again into the breeding inhabitants.

“In the event you catch a fish that has the suitable mixture of character traits to hit your lure, be light with it and put it again,” Suski says. “As a result of hopefully that fish will proceed to have infants, and we will maintain these susceptible character sorts within the inhabitants for longer.”

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