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Muskie stocking question for spearers

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Hopefully this won't turn into a flame war, but I have a question for spearers.

Yesterday during testimony in a MN House committee hearing on a bill to halt muskie stocking on proposed new lakes, the statement was made by someone speaking on behalf of darkhouse spearers that spearers in Minnesota were unanimous in their opposition to muskie stocking.

I realize the people here don't represent all spearers, but it seems to be a fairly broad cross section at least.

So I thought I'd ask:Was that a true statement? If so, what is the reasoning behind it?

Like I said, hope this doesn't turn into mayhem, and I'm really not interested in debating the issue here - people think what they think. Just trying to understand what attitudes are out there.

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I'm a lifelong spear fisherman and I absolutely DO NOT oppose muskie stocking, so this guy or gal doesn't represent my opinions, at least. I think part of the big issue I consistently hear from muskie anglers is that the "blood-thirsty" spear fishermen are going to wipe out the skis and ruin their fisheries. This is bunk on every level I can think of. I have seen many muskies in my years of fishing. I have speared zero. Yes, it's easy to tell the difference. No, mistakes are not commonly made. No, people aren't spearing muskies is droves and stuffing them behind their pickup seats. Almost every spearer I know is more conservation minded than most other anglers I run into.

I say stock those muskies, make it a great ski fishery for anyone who wants to enjoy it. You keep catching and releasing, we'll keep watching them swim by while making good decisions. Win-win.

And to quell any jabs before they might happen, I realize my page name is "pikestabber," but in countless hours of spearing this year, I chose never to stab a single pike. Every fish I saw this year is still swimming as far as I know. Last year I harvested 3 small northerns.  And I plan to continue not living up to my name :)

Edited by pikestabber
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I think it's fun to see muskies while spearing. The way they are treated is ridiculous in my mind. What's the point of having a fishery if it's 100% catch and release. I think we should be able to keep one a year angled or speared.

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I am with you fishadb, in a sense I mean when the "minimum" size you can keep is 54" that basically says you ain't keeping anything.  Granted when you look at the studies though they do show that basically it takes 4-10 acres of a lake to support one muskie so it's not like there is an overabundance of them in a healthy lake so I do see why they are so protected, but honestly if they did it much like the sturgeon tag where you apply and then can keep one a year I don't know if that would be such a bad thing. I have heard they taste better than pike......

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I am not opposed one bit I enjoy fishing for muskie and love seeing them while spearing.  Personally this talk between some of the spearing community which encompasses a lot of ppl in power of the MDAA and some in the muskie community is sad and it showing the negative effects.  The fact they cant work together is pathetic and does more harm then good.  This is one prime reason I will not join MDAA even though they are their to fight for spearing the fact they  get involved in any muskie related business deters me right away.

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Hi All - 

Thanks for the feedback, and the sincere answers. 

A couple answers to some specific questions:

 - The outright spearing bans on muskie lakes are really a thing of the past. I was part of the group that wrote the long range plan for muskie stocking, and from day one of that discussion, new spearing bans were off the table from the outset. When the legislation lifting the remaining bans was being discussed in committee last session, the MN Muskie and Pike Assoc. actually testified in favor of lifting the remaining bans. 

 - The size limit change was really a result of a couple things. One is that with the 48" minimum, a fair number of fish were being kept on some of our main trophy lakes like Leech, Mille Lacs, and Vermilion. In a low density population, it takes decades to replace those fish. Which leads into the other reason... The MN muskie program was intended to create a trophy caliber fishery - low density stocking in lakes with high potential for fish to reach maximum size-at-age. Ultimate size-at-age in a lot of these lakes is north of 54 inches. The 54" size protects most of the fish, while still allowing someone to keep a real giant or potential state record if they must. It's pretty widely accepted that fish that break the current record have been caught and released multiple times, but, the option is still there I guess. 

This model is fairly similar to the one Ontario went to several years back, where lakes with high potential for world class fish (Lake of the Woods, Eagle, Rowan, Georgian Bay, Wabigoon/Dinorwic, the Manitous and a few others) have 54" size limits (Lac Seul is C&R only), while lakes with less potential have different regs that vary from 48" to 40" to even 34" in some cases. Those are all natural lakes, so in MN's case where stocked lakes are ones with high growth potential by definition, and most of our natural lakes (Leech, Cass, Winnie, the Boy River chain) already have proven track records of big fish production, the higher length limit recognizes the as trophy fisheries. That having been said, even in MN there are exceptions - some of the lakes with Shoepac strain muskies have lower limits, because those fish just don't get that big.

 - Muskie tasting better than pike? Personally I'd have to disagree. I've eaten a couple that died on me. One fish got a hook right in the isthmus - where the gills come together at the base of the throat. Set the hook and it looked like a special effect from a cheesy shark attack movie. (Bloody water flying up in the air...) Fish bled out before it even got to the boat. The other...near as I can figure it had a heart attack. Hit, took one run, rolled over and kacked. darndest thing. Reeled it in and it was dead as charity. Both were legal size at the time for where I was fishing, and I figured it was me or the turtles... They were ok, but just ok. I'd much prefer pike, but then I prefer pike to walleyes to begin with, so... Plus, by the time a fish gets to 54" and would be legal to keep, the amount of accumulated mercury would be pretty significant. 



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