Southern Muskies

Kinkaid Lake in southern Illinois experiences gentle winters and lengthy, scorching summers, similar to the local weather of central Arkansas. Floor temperatures can attain 86°F throughout prolonged intervals in summer season. This 2,300-acre reservoir helps a preferred muskie fishery, and is a wonderful venue to check muskies on the southern fringe of their vary.

Researchers on the Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Heart at Southern Illinois College tagged muskies with temperature-sensing transmitters to find out seasonal actions and habitat use of grownup muskies and to look at habits through the probably irritating summer season interval.* Fish have been positioned each a number of days, and at every location, depth profiles of temperature and dissolved oxygen have been taken and used to estimate fish depth, based mostly on fish transmitter temperature. Habitat kind additionally was recorded as open water, standing timber, vegetation, or a mixture of vegetation and standing timber.

Thermal stratification occurred from mid-Could by way of mid-November at depths from 14 to 21 toes. Summer season floor temperatures ranged from 81°F to 86°F. Dissolved oxygen was limiting (lower than 3 ppm) under the thermocline from June by way of September and elevated by way of October till the lake was combined by November.

From October to December, physique temperatures of muskies usually matched the floor temperature, because the lake was combined throughout that point. In winter, physique temperatures, from 39°F to 52°F, have been barely cooler than floor temperatures. From June by way of September, muskies maintained physique temperatures of round 77°F, inhabiting depths related to the thermocline the place dissolved oxygen was appropriate.

In July and August, muskies usually inhabited temperatures which might be thought-about irritating for coolwater fish, or have been positioned at depths with low dissolved oxygen, presumably to keep away from heat water. Fifty % of muskies have been positioned in dissolved oxygen ranges much less that 3 ppm in summer season. Some have been present in depth zones the place oxygen ranges would sometimes drop to 1 ppm. Twenty % of the fish occupied water at or above 82°F. Muskies in water that heat usually returned to cooler, deeper water after quick intervals.

Some muskies established seasonal dwelling ranges, usually overlapping with different muskies. Different muskies wandered all through the lake many of the 12 months. Wanderers appeared to briefly linger in areas frequented by different muskies earlier than transferring to different high-use areas.

In late February and early March, all tagged muskies moved to a shallow creek arm space. Some fish moved farther up into the creek and remained there for a number of weeks to as late as June. Actions general tended to be highest in February and lowest in July.

In fall, muskies had a choice for mixed (timber and vegetation) habitat, and most well-liked timber areas in winter and spring. Vegetation and mixed cowl have been chosen by muskies in summer season. When the lake was stratified, muskies most frequently suspended at depths of round 11 to 12 toes.

*Beck, P. A., and R. C. Brooks. Seasonal motion and habitat use of muskellunge in a southern Illinois reservoir. Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Heart Analysis Report, Southern Illinois College.

Examples of seasonal depth use (inexperienced strains) of a small (18.5-inch male) and enormous (34-inch feminine) pike in a Minnesota lake. Strong black strains are depths the place water temperature equals 70°F. Crimson strains point out depth the place dissolved oxygen is 3 components per million. Tailored from Pierce at al. (2013).

Pike Habitat Use

Outdoors of the Far North, huge pike in lakes could be tough to find in summer season. They appear to vanish from shallow environs and transfer to deeper water, both alongside deep weededges the place they feed on perch, sunfish, and minnows, or open water the place they hunt for pelagic baitfish like whitefish and ciscoes. Location seems to be affected by water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and prey preferences and availability.

To assist remedy the summer season location puzzle, Minnesota DNR fishery biologists tracked pike to find out chosen depths and temperatures.* Pike have been divided into massive (better than 28 inches) and small fish teams. Water temperatures have been repeatedly measured all through the water column on the deepest a part of every lake, and depth profiles of dissolved oxygen have been made weekly.

Particular person pike have been versatile in depths used inside seasons and between years, though important patterns emerged. Pike had the deepest actions and extra totally used all accessible depths through the spring and fall turnover intervals when dissolved oxygen in deep water elevated. In summer season and winter, depth choice was affected by low dissolved oxygen in deeper water.

As higher layers warmed throughout summer season, massive pike tended to observe the thermocline to cooler water. Fashions predicted that pike most well-liked water temperatures between 61°F and 70°F in August when temperatures as much as 82°F have been accessible. Small pike have been present in hotter, shallower water in two lakes that had dense water lilies. Within the third lake with out comparable vegetation protection, smaller pike have been usually in deeper, cooler water. The researchers counsel that temperature is secondary to shallow vegetation in affecting habitat use of small pike.

One of many check lakes had quite a few chilly groundwater inflows close to the shoreline in water lower than about 3 toes deep. The researchers discovered no proof that enormous pike took benefit of those shallow pockets of chilly water.

*Pierce, R. B., A. J. Carlson, B. M. Carlson, D. Hudson, and D. F. Staples. 2013. Depths and thermal habitat utilized by massive versus small northern pike in three Minnesota lakes. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 142:1629-1639.

Tiger Muskie Actions

Fishery biologists of the Washington Division of Fish and Wildlife implanted transmitters into tiger muskies to trace their long- and short-term actions in Newman Lake, Washington.* This reservoir close to Spokane is 1,200 acres and has a mean depth of 19 toes and most depth of 30 toes. Thirty muskies between 22 and 45 inches have been outfitted with ultrasonic transmitters and tracked over two years.

Tiger muskies tracked bi-weekly had better actions through the winter-spring (November-June) interval than in summer-fall (July to October). About 90 % of bi-weekly actions have been better than 100 yards. Whereas actions adopted an identical seasonal sample as discovered at Mayfield Reservoir in a earlier examine, Newman Lake fish moved about twice as far between observations, suggesting that habits of tiger muskies could be lake-specific.

Quick-term actions have been decided from hourly observations over 24-hour intervals. A spread of habits was noticed amongst particular person fish. Some tiger muskies occupied quick stretches of shoreline or stayed in a sure bay, whereas others traveled lengthy distances. One fish moved slightly below 10 miles in 24 hours. The identical fish traveled virtually 1,000 yards in quarter-hour — a mean velocity of two.9 mph.

Seventy % of muskies have been present in water better than 7 toes deep in summer season and fall. In spring, 43 % of the fish occupied depths lower than 7 toes.

*Osborne, R., M. Divens., W. Baker, and Y. W. Lee. 2012. Conduct of tiger muskellunge in Newman Lake, Washington decided by ultrasonic telemetry. Washington Division of Fish and Wildlife Report FPT 12-01.

Monitoring Pike and Muskies

Calm and Sunny

For walleyes, particularly within the Summer season Peak, shiny and glassy circumstances can disrupt the shallow weed chew in clear lakes, ushering massive fish into deeper water. Nevertheless, smaller, eater-sized ‘eyes can nonetheless be caught alongside shallower weedlines. Deep bass stay lively, however their shallow counterparts slide underneath docks or different shady objects comparable to downed timber. The shade provides camouflage, cool circumstances and safety from the solar’s UV rays. Picture: Fish have been hiding within the shade on the Fox River.

Heavy Rain

Downpours of biblical proportions can yield phenomenal motion for a wide range of gamefish — offered circumstances are protected to fish in. Throughout the deluge, select lively displays tailor-made to aggressive fish, which frequently roam a lot shallower water — or trip larger within the water column — than they might underneath bluebird skies. As soon as the rain subsides, fish usually observe rising water into newly flooded habitat. If the water has dirtied as a consequence of runoff, search out the clearest circumstances accessible. Additionally take note of water temperature, being certain to focus on inflows with temps acceptable to the species you are looking for. Giant pike, for instance, favor cool water and observe chilly inflows into skinny water. Nevertheless, when panfish or bass transfer shallow looking for fast-warming water in spring, cool runoff is a killer. Picture: This was a fantastic evening on the water.

Warmth Waves

Scorching summer season scorching spells can check our endurance, together with our expertise. Rising water temps, a shrinking thermocline, and a full-court press from unfettered sunshine collide to drive fish into deep water, shaded areas, and thick vegetation through the day. If fishing the evening shift is an choice, take it. In any other case, deal with prime occasions early and late, or make the most of the arrival of wind, waves, and cloud cowl — which might spark spikes in fish habits. As water temperatures rise, discovering icy inflows from spring-fed streams or seeps can produce epic catches of fish that like conserving their cool. Big pike, anybody? Be forewarned, in excessive swelters, die-offs of curly-leaf pondweed coinciding with scorching temps and an absence of wind can drive down a lake’s oxygen ranges, inflicting widespread summerkill of bass, panfish, walleyes, pike, and different species. Picture: 95 within the shade on Lake Winnebago.

Gentle Rain

A delicate drizzle with little or no breeze is a superb time to be on the water. Diminished mild circumstances ignite feeding habits in all the things from trout to walleyes, whereas the rain retains fair-weather fishermen on shore. On the bass entrance, this generally is a good time to throw a one-two punch of jerkbaits and topwaters. In-Fisherman buddy and veteran bassman Scott Bonnema tosses a giant, suspending slashbait like the dimensions 10 Rapala X-Rap in calm circumstances, and chugs a Skitter Pop when a light-weight wind mixes with the rain. Picture: Alaskan sockeye in a stunning mild spritz.

Cloudy, Overcast

When cloudy skies scale back mild penetration, predators usually go on the prowl, particularly in shallow water. Giant pike, for instance, generally change into lively in comparatively shallow shoreline weedbeds that produced solely small fish in sunny climate. As a normal guideline, superb lighting at midday on a cloudy day mimics the sunshine ranges skilled early and late within the day in clear climate. Lively fishing displays with bigger baits usually rating the very best catches, notably in shallow feeding flats or different areas the place education fish are feeding. Picture: Overcast on Gull Lake.

Submit Chilly Entrance

Related to bluebird skies or wispy clouds, an increase in barometric strain, and cooling temperatures, the post-frontal panorama could be considered one of fishing’s hardest nuts to crack. For predators comparable to bass, pike, and walleyes, cabbage-crowned factors and outdoors weedlines mendacity in 15 to 18 toes of water usually maintain teams of fish — although maybe not lively faculties. Casting or trolling deep-running crankbaits comparable to Bomber’s Fats Free Shad or the Rapala DT16 are good methods to find fish. When you crank up one or two catches from a spot, make sure to attempt a slower presentation, comparable to a jig and softbait, to take advantage of a couple of extra bites from the world earlier than transferring on. When you may have a alternative, specializing in flowing water is one other stable choice, since river fish are sometimes much less affected by fronts than their lake-run cousins. Picture: Deep cranking.

Rising Barometer

Ouch! A skyrocketing barometer following a significant chilly entrance is commonly related to the worst doable fishing circumstances. Whereas debate swirls about whether or not barometric strain is definitely the wrongdoer, there’s little argument that rising strain usually coincides with a lake’s fish growing a critical case of lockjaw. Fish usually sulk tight to backside or cowl, in free teams reasonably than faculties, and switch up their noses at displays that labored so nicely a day or two earlier. Compensating techniques vary from finessing small baits to fishing massive lures quick, in hopes of triggering response strikes. Picture: Entrance went by way of through the evening on Bays de Noc, headed east on the horizon.

Secure Climate

Whoever stated change is sweet had by no means fished throughout an extended stretch of truthful climate. Veteran multispecies angler and Minnesota Division of Pure Assets fisheries supervisor Roger Hugill says an prolonged interval of steady climate permits fish to seek out their consolation zone — that’s, a steadiness of the suitable water temperature, oxygen degree, and different elements. ‘This fuels a pleasant, regular chew, which is one thing all of us wish to see, ‘ he grins. Picture: Bays de Noc underneath steady circumstances.

Sturdy Winds

Gusty circumstances could make boat management fascinating, however the waves they generate usually flip the feeding change for bass, walleyes, and different gamefish. For instance, two to three-footers rolling over a shallow rocky reef or weedflat set off huge pike to maneuver shallow from close by deep water. Largemouth bass residing within the vegetation additionally activate, though it may be a unique case on the rocks. Typically, smallmouths that dominated a reef in calm circumstances exit the world when huge pike take heart stage. For bass, pike, walleyes, and extra, a suspending jerkbait slashed simply beneath the wave trough could be lethal, as can Colorado-blade spinnerbaits, whose flash and thump rise above the din of heavy seas. Picture: Nice circumstances for a day trip on Leech Lake.

Falling Barometer

When you might select one time to be on the water, this could be it. Whereas the strain debate extends as to if a falling barometer impacts fish habits — or just coincides with different circumstances that do — many diehard anglers swear by it. In reality, In-Fisherman buddy Bob Samson, a science instructor, multispecies fan, and devoted scholar of the barometer’s have an effect on on fish habits, swears that even slight dips in strain all through the day can set off bursts of feeding exercise. Main will increase coinciding with the method of a giant storm can coincide with sheer suicide bites. In-Fisherman artwork director Jim Pfaff and information Billy Rosner skilled such motion on Minnesota’s Lake Vermilion, when muskies and trophy pike went on a rampage previous to the arrival of a mega-storm that dumped as much as 9 inches of rain on the close by metropolis of Duluth, inflicting main flooding.

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