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Muskellunge Management Objectives for the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers

History

The Susquehanna River in Broome and Tioga Counties, NY, was stocked with tiger muskellunge from the mid-1980's until 2005. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PAFBC) has stocked pure strain muskellunge in both the Great Bend section of the Susquehanna River upstream of Binghamton and downstream of Waverly since at least the 1980's. Angler reports of "tiger musky" in the Susquehanna River became more common after the late 1980's while word of angler caught musky from the Chenango River picked up in the late 1990's. Fishery surveys conducted by DEC staff initially reported all fish as tiger musky, but the meristic counts used for identification were either not done or revealed intermediate characteristics between muskellunge and tiger muskellunge. During the late-1990's staff gained access to photos of almost 100 angler caught "musky" from these rivers and ultimately came to believe that nearly all were pure strain. However, since photo verification cannot be considered positive, we felt the only sure way to verify a reproducing population in the rivers was to capture a young-of-year musky. Finally, in the summer of 2008 wild young-of-year muskellunge were captured in both rivers verifying that muskellunge were indeed naturally reproducing. It is believed that the PAFBC stockings are the basis for the wild population that has since developed in both the Susquehanna and lower Chenango Rivers.

Management Objectives

Picture of bilogist holding a large musky
Muskellunge captured on the Susquehanna River
during a 2015 electrofishing survey.

Tiger muskellunge were stocked into the Susquehanna River to create an opportunity for anglers to catch a trophy fish. However, once we felt that muskellunge were actually supporting the vast majority of the fishery, tiger musky stocking was discontinued. Wild muskellunge are now managed with the same intent of sustaining a trophy fishery.

Regulations

The previous regulation, which ran from October 1992 until September 2012, allowed anglers to harvest one muskellunge or tiger muskellunge per day (combined) that was 30". To better manage the musky fishery and to eliminate the need for anglers to differentiate between the two species, that regulation was changed in October 2012 to a minimum length of 40" and a daily limit of one of either species. The current season dates are 1st Saturday in May through March 15th for both species.

Future

DEC staff continue to collect angler reports of muskellunge caught, and have recently started a tagging program for some of the fish caught and released by anglers. This effort along with continued fishery surveys by DEC staff will aid us in tracking down spawning locations, documenting home ranges, and eventually estimating numbers of muskellunge in reaches of both the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers.

Tagged Musky

If you catch a tagged muskellunge please write down the tag number, length, date, and location of catch, and either phone or email the information to the Region 7 Fisheries office at 607-753-3095 ext.213 or fwfish7@dec.ny.gov Please do not remove the tag from the musky if releasing it.


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