MCI Current Initiatives
Muskies Canada is a club that is actively involved in projects that help to give something back to resource and to the community. Our clubs efforts go far beyond just releasing the muskies we catch. We have a number of projects underway involving muskellunge research, restocking and habitat restoration. We are very active in the communities we live in as well. We look forward to helping out at the various Kids fishing events we attend and supporting underprivileged families and food banks during the year.
We have been working on some of these initiatives for over 25 years. Some are new this year and will bring new opportunities for our members to be involved. We are always in need of volunteers to help out. As you can see there is a lot going on... Be a part of it and get involved...
On with the work...
- Canadian Military Program (2011 - Present)
Muskies Canada has implemented a program to support regular and reserve force members of the Canadian military. A limited number of free memberships are being made available to the troops for a two year period; beyond the maximum number of free memberships and after the two year free period, memberships will be available at a deep discount to the regular membership fee. The troops will receive the electronic copy of the Release Journal and be able to participate in all activities.
The Online Membership Form on the webpage contains a link for the military. The Canadian Military website also contains a writeup on Muskie Canada's support program.
- "Know the Difference" Cards and Educational Ad (2010 - Present)
Muskies Canada is stepping up its efforts to educate the fishing public of the differences between Muskellunge and Northern Pike. In 1985, a KTD sign program was commenced, which continues to this day, which placed signs containing pictures of both muskies and pike at boat launches, marinas, tourist camps, Tackle shops, and other visible spots at lakes and rivers which contain both species of fish.
This program to educate the fishing public of the differences between muskies and pike was substantially increased in 2010 and 2011 when, together with our major partner, the Ontario MNR, we had 20,000 English and 3,500 French 5 inch by 7 inch KTD cards printed for distribution to fishermen. There is also an educational advertisement disclosing the differences between muskies and pike in the 2011 Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations which has a target audience of 1 million Ontario fishermen and half a million non-resident fishermen.
- Dr. Ed Crossman Memorial Research Grant (2009 - Present)
In 2009 Muskies Canada began offering a $1000.00 grant to support fisheries biology students working on Muskellunge research projects in Canada. The Dr. Ed Crossman Research Grant provides up to $1000 for a university or college student carrying out fisheries research relevant to muskellunge in Canada. Upon completion of the research activity the student will provide a short report about the findings of their research to Muskies Canada Inc.
- Kawartha Lakes Northern Pike Invasion Project (2009 - Present)
Northern pike have been caught with increasing frequency in the Kawartha Lakes in the past few years. Pike are not native to the Kawartha Lakes and pose a serious and possibly lethal threat to the unique strains of muskellunge which have inhabited these lakes for thousands of years.
In early 2010 a decision was made to form a committee to investigate the invasion of Northern Pike into the Kawartha Lakes. With the assistance of Muskies Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Kawartha Lakes Northern Pike Invasion Project was commenced.
The 2010 season was spent doing shoreline spawning bed surveys and, later, seine netting, where both juvenile northerns and muskies were trapped during the same seine pull. The initial goal was to try to establish the spawning areas of these juvenile fish. If we could establish where the Northern Pike were spawning, further investigation might indicate how quickly the pike could spread through the remainder of the Kawartha Lakes. We could then determine what could be done about that in the future.
In 2011, previous survey results are being used to attempt to trap young-of-the-year swim fry, to see if a ratio can be determined between newly hatched pike and newly hatched muskellunge. The seine netting is continuing with the assistance of volunteers from both Muskies Canada and the Ontario MNR.
This will be a multi-year project with varying techniques being considered and used. Upon completion of our various activities, reports are completed and information from those reports is available upon request from the Ontario MNR, Pererborough District.
- St. Lawrence River Muskellunge DNA Sampling Project (2008 - Present)
The Gananoque Chapter is involved in collecting DNA samples from both YOY muskellunge and muskellunge we catch while angling. These samples are then forwarded to a graduate student, Kevin Kapuscinski, working under Dr. John Farrell at State University of New York of Environmental Science and Forestry--Syracuse campus.
- Saint John River Tagging Study Chapter (2007 - Present)
Tagging study of muskellunge in the Saint John River. Chapter funded and member supported yearly project to gather data. Used to support conservation regulations and proposed recognition of the muskellunge as a game fish. Currently muskellunge are considered an invasive species in New Brunswick.
- Muskies Canada Website and Message Forum (2006 - Present)
Muskies Canada debuted the new website in 2007 replacing the static site that was hosted by Trent University. Many Thanks to Ron Reyns for his countless hours of effort. Matt Clay was instrumental in establishing the member's only Message Forum in 2007.
- St. Lawrence River Young of the Year Project (2005 - Present)
Gananoque Chapter members led by Jim Hutchings, work with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) and St. Lawrence Islands National Parks to seine for Young of the Year muskie in August. This is a yearly project, required in order to discover/evaluate nursery habitat. Muskies Canada also provides funding for this project.
- Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Project (2004 - Present)
A 10 year, large scale project led by the Toronto chapter of Muskies Canada along with partners including the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Sir Sanford Fleming college. The objective is to restore a self sustaining muskie population thru a scientifically appropriate stocking regime. Funding was also provided by Muskies Canada via member donations and the LSMRP Lottery.
- Muskies Canada Odyssey (2001 - Present)
Back in the late 1990s, Chuck Boyd, former Kitchener-Waterloo chapter chair, and Joe Inrig, former Hamilton chapter chair, were the founding fathers of the first ever Muskies Canada Odyssey held in 2001. Over the years, this biannual event, the only Muskie show in Canada, has attracted thousands of Muskie anglers both north and south of the border.
The Odyssey showcases retailers of Muskie tackle, guides, resorts and anything else Muskie related. One of the main attractions at the Odyssey is the seminars from a wide variety of informative guest speakers. Seminar speakers at the Odyssey have included; Bill Hamblin, Dick Pearson, Sean McCarthy, Larry Ramsell, Mike Lazarus, Steve Heiting, Big Jim Mac Laughlin, Gord Pyzer, Frank DiMarcantonio, Marc Thorpe, Jim Saric, Larry Jones, Jim Grove, Jody Mills, Steve Wickens, and Dr. John Casselman. All funds raised from the Odysseys are used for OMNR sanctioned projects and initiatives in support of muskellunge research, education, and conservation. The Muskies Canada Odyssey event has become one of the great fund raisers for Muskies Canada.
- Know The Difference Sign Project (1985 - Present)
In an effort to educate the angling public, Know The Difference signs were erected at various locations including launch ramps, marinas and lodges. The initial KTD sign artwork was designed by Gene Kennel finalized by Marc Thorpe and Chris Sommerville and the project was implemented by Joe Inrig and Kurt Milligan getting the signs made for the chapters to install. The artwork for the signs has recently been updated by Marc Pitre and Ron Reyns. The sign has pictures showing the difference between Northern Pike and Muskellunge. Current initiative by the Kawartha Lakes Chapter to install over 200 KTD signs in the Kawartha Region.
- Dr. Ed Crossman Family Outing (1984 - Present)
The Muskies Canada family outing was started by the executive board in 1984. Jim Kelly with small children of his own, who loved the outdoors, was the first coordinator of the event. In 2004 the 20th year for the family outing, the name was changed to the Dr Ed Crossman family outing, in honour of the late Dr Ed Crossman. The weekend is specifically geared towards the kids, with camping, fishing, games and a great barbeque dinner on Saturday night. On Sunday the kid¬ís favourite, a prize table, in which all the children win a prize for the fish they¬íve caught and released. Some of the patient kids, even fish for muskie, and the Swan Moving trophy is presented to the child who catches the biggest musky.
- Muskies Canada Information Booths (1980 - Present)
On an ongoing Muskies Canada places booths in various Sportsman¬ís Shows and mall displays across Canada. The intent is to educate the angling public with respect to muskellunge fishing and promote catch and release and muskie conservation in general. The club also provides speakers, kids angling areas, and helps manage Muskie zones within these shows. The Toronto chapter has led the way in this regard participating in many large shows in the Toronto area.
- Public Catch & Release Program (1980 - Present)
The initial program involved mailing posters to resorts, campgrounds, tackle shops and Marinas located on muskellunge waters throughout Ontario. The OMNR publication which listed which species are found in which lakes, was used to identify which areas to mail posters. The Ontario Resort, Campground and Marina Guidebooks were used to develop a mailing list. Over 1400 posters, with tearoffs, were distributed throughout Ontario. Paul Gasbarino, Paul Curran, Dan Knauer and Don & Jackie Brand played a large roll in establishing the program and fund raising and raffle draw work. All are life members of MCI. When this program started most anglers and cottagers were keeping all muskellunge captured, with a size limit throughout Ontario of 28" and a limit of 2 fish per day. Paul Gasbarino was instrumental in getting the outdoor press to support the program through various news and magazine articles. This program really changed public attitudes towards Catch & Release and was responsible for significant improvement in the muskellunge fishery. Read more about the current state of the program here.
- Muskies Canada Angler Log Program (1979 - Present)
In partnership with the OMNR Muskies Canada provides Angler Log Data on a yearly basis. This data comprises members muskie fishing activity in terms of where, when, hours fished, what was caught, and size data on any muskie caught and released. This data is collected by each chapter, then centralized and subsequently forwarded to the Ministry of Natural Resources. The OMNR correlates the data for individual water bodies and computes a catch per unit effort and publishes the information yearly. This allows fisheries managers to monitor the status of muskellunge populations through time, on various Ontario waters. In 1981 a log sheet was developed by Cheryl Lewis and Phil Smith, OMNR Lindsay District to capture Catch Per Unit of Effort data and distributed them to the members.
In 2007, a paper entitled Characteristics of Ontario muskellunge fisheries based on volunteer angler diary information was published by Steven Kerr of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. He examined fishing log data provided by Muskies Canada members from 1979 thru to 2004 from most Ontario waters with significant muskellunge populations. The long term overall catch rate for Ontario turns out to be 14.6 rod hours of fishing effort. Kerr also reports over the last 10 years the general catch rate has improved and this has been attributed to catch and release angling and more restrictive limits. The calculated mean length of the catch turned out to be 37 inches (sample of 9,499 muskies).
- Release Journal (1979 - Present)
The Release Journal was created as a way to keep the membership informed about club activities and news. In 1978 the club purchased hi-tech equipment (a Smith-Corona typewriter and white-out) to produce the club newsletter with. The white-out was particularly handy given our limited typing skills. Evolving into more of a magazine over the years, the Release Journal is now produced 6 times a year. In 2009 the Release Journal made its debut in color and is now available electronically via the Members portion of the Muskies Canada Website.
- Participation in the Cleithrum Project, Royal Ontario Museum (1979 - Present)
Muskies Canada provides samples of cleithra to the Cleithrum project at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario. Members retrieve any dead muskellunge they find and also canvas Taxidermists on behalf of the project. In 1979, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, through Dr. John Casselman, and the Royal Ontario Museum, through Dr. Ed Crossman, initiated the Cleithrum Project as a joint study to collect, archive, and disseminate biological data on trophy muskellunge. Dr. Casselman still administers the Cleithrum project, now from Queens University. Read more about the project and it's current status here.
- Promoting Catch & Release (1978 - Present)
Muskies Canada was one of the first organizations to promote Catch and Release as a muskellunge management tool. Recognizing the need to limit the harvest of muskellunge and protect spawning habitat a concerned group of anglers, guides and lodge owners formed Muskies Canada Inc.
* A Note To MCI Members past and present: If you notice some missing info, or would like to contribute new info, please contact our Public Education Director Jim Herod