Seasonal movements of muskellunge in the St. Clair – Detroit River System: Implications for multi-jurisdictional fisheries management
The St. Clair-Detroit River System contains a world-class Great Lakes muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) fishery that has avoided the declines observed in many Great Lakes muskellunge populations. Muskellunge are an upper trophic level predator, and therefore a naturally low-density species. Limited fishery-independent data exist on which to base management decisions. To remedy this, we initiated an acoustic telemetry study in May of 2016, in collaboration with the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System. Our objective was to describe patterns of movement of muskellunge in this large and open system to better understand their spatial ecology. We acoustically tagged 133 muskellunge in the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, and movements of 58 fish that passed our data quality control screens were analyzed. We utilized mixed modelling to assess the effects of sex, length, release location, and season on daily movement rates. We found that movement rates only differed among seasons, with highest movement rates occurring in the fall and lowest movement rates in the winter. Muskellunge tagged at different locations exhibited distinct residency patterns, and fish frequently crossed jurisdictional and waterbody boundaries. Ultimately our study highlights the scope and patterns of muskellunge movement in a large, unimpounded system and demonstrates that management of these fish would benefit from consideration of their full distribution covering multiple management jurisdictions.
|Seasonal movements of muskellunge in the St. Clair – Detroit River System: Implications for multi-jurisdictional fisheries management
|Jan-Michael Hessenauer, Cleyo Harris, Stephen Marklevitz, Matthew D. Faust, Michael W. Thorn, Brad Utrup, Darryl W. Hondorp
|Journal of Great Lakes Research
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Great Lakes Science Center