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Created by Scott McKee Oct 31, 2018 at 1:09pm. Last updated by Scott McKee Oct 31, 2018.

Thank you, Jay!

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Great presentation by Jonah Tuesday night.

And how many musky anglers would believe that a muskie tagged in St. Clair would travel down the Detroit river into the western basin of Lake Erie, making stops at Long Point and Presque Isle, to Sturgeon Point in the Eastern Basin, and then making the trip back to the western basin. All in about a six month period. Over 400 miles round trip.

Nobody could have thought muskies did that, but it might explain those spotted muskies which have been occasionally caught in the harbor?

Yeah, great presentation by Jonah. With the technology available these days, every day can be a new day. He's giving a slightly different version at the State of lake Erie tonite.

USFWS were also surprised, but not as much, with Lake Sturgeon going all the way to the Long Point area & back. I told him before the meeting that I can't wait to see what we (the NMA) finds out. I just know we're in for a surprise. Now it's a matter of discovering it.

If anyone is interested, you can register onto the site as a researcher. Chris is registered as a Principal Investigator & I'm registered as a Researcher. I don't know exactly what it buys me but whatever it is, I'll find out. I believe anyone one else can register as that, too

I have always believed all great lakes fish are migratory. It's never argued here on lake ontario and it's harbors and streams where both warm water and cold water species are known to be mobile and here one day and gone the next. I was truly perplexed when I joined the NMA and it had the stance it did on fish movements. Fish get caught where they are targeted most and that will always hold true but these fish move a ton, not just a couple miles from a home base. I do believe they make repeatable and patternable seasonal migrations but they are just as capable as bass, walleye or any other fish in our waters when it comes to packing up shop and moving out. Long point is catching more and more muskies every year lately. If you have something to attract fish eventually the fish will find it. Last fall the south gap had bait and with that bait came big hooks I hadn't seen years or months or even days prior. When the river loads with bait each fall the amount of new hooks that show up always amaze me. Those fish follow bait. This is a known fact on st. Clair and other migratory great lakes fisheries so now with clear data it will hopefully will become an accepted ideal here on the Niagara.

Jonah also mentioned to me that there is some "really good" (his words) recognition software that has been developed. You take a pic of a musky, send it thru the software & it can identify if it's been caught before. Something to think about as an I.T. approach to tagging. Slick!

We've always known from experience that the lake muskies moved plenty (catch them opening week or two, then most are gone til fall), just didn't know how far some may venture. What we're still looking for, though, is a muskie moving from the river to the lake, or vice versa. Notwithstanding all the muskies tagged over the years, only one documented cross-over that I'm aware of.

Interestingly, like the muskies, the implanted Sturgeon demonstrated plenty of movement in the lake, yet none of them were documented moving into the river. Jonah had a series of "gates" (receivers) set up in both river channels, yet none of the sturgeon with transmitter implants pinged any of the "gates".  Yet, we know there are sturgeon in the river.

Whether or not the muskies migrate to and from the river and lake has a tremendous impact on how the fishery is managed and on what habitat improvement projects, most notably creation/enhancement of  spawning and nursery habitat, we can effectively pursue. We can't get the monies for the projects without documentation, or at least a better understanding of the relationship between the harbor and river fisheries. If migration to and fro is common, we don't need to heavily invest in harbor projects, because the river will provide the necessary recruitment. If not common, we may need more spawning/nursery to improve the fishery.

Of course, if lake fish migrate extensively, it is possible that many harbor fish are spawned elsewhere (could be Long Point, or Port Colburn, or one of the many weedy embayments along the Canadian shoreline). If that is true, we don't need to invest heavily in the harbor.  However, there is no documentation or other evidence of that happening. Ours will be the first study in the lake which may help answer that question. Best approach in my opinion is to invest in Buffalo Harbor unless and until we know otherwise.

Long Point has had a muskie population for as long as the Buffalo harbor. It's interesting that the catch of recent years is improving, just as has been happening in the harbor. The health of these fisheries, if not directly related, have always seemed to be somewhat correlated (perhaps by the same environmental factors?).  

Here are my long winded thoughts. It seems as though every portion of the great lakes seems to hold resident fish and migratory fish and this is accepted as fact by all the great anglers of those regions. You hear this on Georgian bay or the Larry when guys like Dilakis or Bill barber describe a fall catch as a "just resident fish" and are seemingly dissapointed with the catch. Same thing on Clair each fall when I call around for updates on migration progress to the Detroit river and get back responses like "still just resident fish." Our fishery is no different. It gets good when we hold more than just our resident fish. Locals who grew up fishing here from Childhood and were river rats their whole lives like Chris Cinelli or ted Kessler just always accepted this as fact just due to catch rates. Just like spring pike migrations, trout or perch. When they are here, they get caught. When it comes to tagging study results I 100% believe the club has put too much faith in its tagging catch results. The statement "correlation as causation" comes to mind from my school days. These fish are going to be recaught where they are angled for. Even if they do spend every other week on Meyers reef nobody is out there pulling musky lures in 50 fow to ever catch one there. We hunt them at the pinch points, where they are most suceptible and thats where they will always be recaught. Obviously if you track resident fish they will be located right where they live so all we can hope is they get an implant in a roamer. We have resident fish in the harbor and I'm assuming by the numbers that that population has been hurt severely. Andy panz said they could seemingly shock up a 49" fish off the weed beds at the coast guard station every time they tried. I've even had conversations with some pretty well respected non local musky anglers who described the fattest of our harbor giants as "coke channel resident fish". Usually accompanied by a statement that that population is gone without the discharge to attract them and I should have seen it. The migratory fish are what we'd like to study. If they could have put implants in the fish that were caught in the south gap around thanksgiving last year I can almost guarantee you'd see some big moves. Same with the hundreds of hooks that show up in front of strawberry each fall and seemingly begin to drop down river and make their way down towards the shipyards before the closer. Same with the big hooks you find around frenchmans on the opener that move towards Tompsons and then dissappear. Those fish just werent there all fall and certainly don't stay all summer. Those who talked to me while i was out there each day this past fall will remember me telling them the day when bait had showed up in the south gap and about the big hooks that followed. I did my best to convince a few good anglers to pound a certain area I had been repeatedly marking big big hooks all of the sudden and sure enough big fish were caught. I told Larry the very day the I first noticed the change and he went out the next day and caught fish with Chris. I remember telling Mckee giant hooks were holding at the mouth of the Coke Channel each day right before thanksgiving and then 4- 50" class fish were caught there in a 4 day span. These fish were roamers and came in right with the pods of bait.
My thoughts on fish moving fom Clair to Erie to where ever, have always been the same. They are fish, why not? When Clair opens in early June the fishing that takes place in the Detroit river is only a couple miles from Lake Erie. Talking to guys who jig down low in the detroit around fighting island in early June they seemed convinced many of those fish come from Erie. Its only a couple miles from the mouth on Erie and the Clair end is probably 20 miles away. Why would we believe they go to one but never the other? I just refuse to believe there are any imaginary lines that these fish don't cross.


For the longest time I believed that our local muskies freely moved from river to lake for all the reasons you've stated. But both the NMA and Buff State fishery scientist Dave Adrian tagged hundreds of Buffalo Harbor fish (about 10 years apart). Not one fish tagged in the harbor was ever reportedly re-caught in the river - not at Thompson's, not at Frenchman's, not in the Triangle, not at the Huntley, even though all those areas have always been heavily fished. I'm just stumped and still looking for answers. Still a mystery to me. You spend a lot more time on the water than I do anymore, so I greatly appreciate your input.

I still find it hard to believe that they don't migrate to and fro. Just would like to see some hard evidence that supports that belief.


Maybe there are four distinctive populations. One that migrates between the Niagara River and Lake Erie and another that migrates between Buffalo Harbor and Lake Erie but maybe they mostly don't migrate between Buffalo Harbor and the Niagara River. And two other populations that are resident river or harbor fish. That doesn't mean that resident fish will not go to the lake when they need to from time to time to survive. I remember hearing last year that there was a period of time that the river was not producing smallmouth. There has also been years that emerald shiners were scarce in the river. Those could be examples. It could possibly apply to any species.

it could be interesting to have a few of our transmitters put into the big beautiful silvery colored fish that show up near the end of the season around Strawberry and UN 13. If those fish are tagged and then leave the river before the beginning of next season we would never know it by tagging alone. Transmitters would provide out of season data.

The original grant has two main objectives: (1) to determine if there is crossover from the Harbor/Lake to the Upper & back. (2) to determine migration patterns for habitat restoration possibly in the Harbor. During the sturgeon study, actually documenting musky movement way out into the lake was new to them. All the  anglers might know this but without hard proof, it really means little to the DEC, OMNR, USFWS, etc., so it was a surprise to them, even though anglers might not have been surprised. It's unfortunate, but that's the reality.

We only have 6 receivers and 20 transmitters so tagging muskies in the Harbor will give us a clue as to where more habitat needs to be built (Harbor or River). And that's the real goal of the project; to look ahead three years from now & use the data to get more spawning and nursery habitat built. That's what the next grant will be. That's going to look into the future & ensure the fishery is still around 30 years from now. Most of us will be long gone by then but that's what our club is doing to make sure the muskies are still around. Habitat takes a beating around here & only hard data will preserve it. If we find migration out into the lake towards, say Cleveland, that's a freebie.

That's a good idea, Carl. The receivers get pulled in the Fall but when they get reinstalled the following spring, they could pick up a River tagged musky that migrated in the off-season. The one nice thing is that the receivers get new batteries every year & can go on for the next 10 years. The transmitter batteries are good for about 6 years, then either the project is done or we get another grant for more transmitters. We should know the patterns of the harbor muskies in about two or three years. After that, a project like this could easily get expanded.

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