Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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IL: Muskie status report shows progress on Chain

Yorkville, Ill. – An FBI profiler couldn’t paint a clearer
picture of the exploding muskie population swimming throughout the
Fox Chain O’ Lakes.

And thanks to the Illini Muskie Alliance’s annual status report,
here’s what we know about the toothy predator in 2011:

n The average Chain muskie is about 36 inches long, with males
averaging 32.4 inches in length and weighing 9.6 pounds. Females
average 39.3 inches and 16.7 pounds

n The largest fish collected to date in the Chain was 49.5 inches
long and the heaviest was 36 pounds.

n Tagged muskies have been reported from all lakes in the Chain and
in the Fox River as far south as Yorkville and north into
Wisconsin.

n The longest a tagged muskie swam at large before being recaptured
was eight years.

n Most muskies in the Chain grow approximately 2 inches per year
until they reach 36 to 38 inches. At that time, male growth rates
slow dramatically and females continue to grow at just under 2
inches per year.

Of course, as any Illinois muskie angler will confirm, having
endless amounts of knowledge about the Chain’s muskies doesn’t
guarantee catching one.

Still, DNR fisheries biologists and IMA officials are pleased by
the muskie status.

“As year-end statistics and status updates are compiled by DNR and
the Illini Muskie Alliance, it’s clear that the predator fish is
making great progress in the Prairie State,” Ray Thompson,
president of the IMA, said. “The Fox Chain O’ Lakes has been
stocked with muskie since 1982 and has developed into a consistent
and outstanding pure muskie fishery.”

In January, Thompson released the annual status summary, along with
a report on muskie stockings around the state during 2010.

According to the report, the Chain received 1,500 11-inch muskie
fingerlings and 500 12-inch fingerlings from the Jake Wolf Hatchery
in 2010.

“Since fall 2006, our stocking protocol has been to stock 3,000
fingerlings per year,” Thompson explained. “We will continue this
protocol until catch rates during spring sampling increase from
pre-2006 numbers and an increase in abundance is detected.”

Historically, 3,000 fingerling muskies per year equates to a stock
rate of just approximately 0.4 fish per acre. Prior to 2006, the
stocking goal on the Chain was 0.3 fish per acre every other year –
or 2,130 fingerlings every other year.

“As you can see this was quite a jump in the number of fingerlings
stocked,” Thompson said. “The change sets up a more predictable
stocking time-table and allows for adjustments based on the
quantity of fish donated verses anticipating donations that may
never materialize.”

As for the established muskies, DNR catch rates have exceeded the
goals established by the Esocid Task Group for several years. The
objective is 0.3 fish per trap net night, but catches in the past
year’s surveys hovered around 2.3 muskie per trap net night overall
with catch rates up to 2.6 fish per trap net night at peak catches,
Thompson said.

“Anglers on the Chain reported several catches in the 50-inch class
and many more near legal length (48″) in 2009,” Thompson
said.

Anglers on the Chain also have reported landing spotted muskies up
to 46 inches long. DNR collected a 51.25-inch muskie fish that
appeared to be a spotted muskie in spring 2010.

“This suggests fish survive but unfortunately we haven’t collected
spotted muskie in proportion to their stocking numbers,” Thompson
said.

2010 Big Muskie Award

Southern Illinois fishing guide Chad Cain won the 2010 IMA Big Fish
Award with a 497⁄8-inch muskie he caught March 16 on Kinkaid
Lake.

The fish, which was released, is the largest muskie recorded in
Illinois during last year.

Cain also caught a 49.5-inch muskie on Kinkaid in November.

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