The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has partnered with fish and wildlife agencies and angling organizations across the eastern U.S. to attempt to gauge sport-fishing impacts on the muskellunge population.
In cooperation with Coastal Carolina University and West Virginia University and state agencies in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, the study will help determine whether catch-and-release angling during the summer poses a significant source of mortality in southern populations.
Studies are concurrently taking place in the James River in Virginia and Stonewall Jackson Lake in West Virginia where biologist Jeff Hansbarger says the project is using radio transmitters to monitor the population.
“We track these fish throughout the summer months to evaluate the effects that warm water catch-and-release fishing may have on the musky population,” Hansbarger said.
The goal of the project is for local anglers to catch half of the tagged fish on rod-and-reel during the warm water fishing period.
Fish that are caught and released will be closely monitored for several days to determine whether an individual has survived or died after being caught and released.
If an angler catches a tagged musky on the James River or Stonewall Jackson Lake, they are asked to record the tag number, location of capture and date and time caught.
Information can then be reported to Dr. Kyle Hartman or Peter Jenkins by calling 304-293-4797 or 419-667-4951.
For more information on the Musky Mortality Project, visit muskymortality.weebly.com.