I am pleased to inform the members of Muskies Canada that Project Noble Beast (a.k.a. Catch-and-Release Study) is well underway. As an aside, the project's name is in honor of Dr. Ed Crossman who once described the mighty muskie as the "noble beast." I am quite sure that if Dr. Crossman were here today he would be heavily involved in the project.
As for the study, we have taken data from eight fish so far. Five of the eight fish have transmitters, with three currently swimming around the Rideau River in the Long Reach section, and two in the lower Ottawa. Not all fish have transmitters because some were caught with less than two hours of daylight. It is extremely difficult to compare daytime vs. nighttime movements, so fish with transmitters must be caught before 7:00PM (and sooner as daylight hours diminish).
So far every fish with a transmitter has been above 40"! In fact, just yesterday (July 8) we tagged a 48"! Each fish appears to retreat to a shallow safe-haven to recuperate for several hours before beginning larger movements. On the Rideau, we've been tracking a lot of fish in the channels or on the channel edges. I leave today (July 9) to track the fish we caught on the Ottawa, so a future update will contain general information about their movements compared to those from the Rideau.
In addition to affixing each fish with a transmitter, we are also taking blood to look at glucose, lactate, and hematocrit. When a fish undergoes stress and produces a hormone known as cortisol, glucose is produced as an additional energy source that can help the organism protect itself under periods of stress. Lactate is measured through lactic acid build-up during periods of exercise. This measurement allows us to judge how much exercise a given fish went through during an angling event. Lastly, hematocrit is the proportion of red blood cells (RBCs) to whole blood volume (RBCs + plasma). Hematocrit gives us a sense of the fish's overall condition: low hematocrit may mean a diet deficiency or anemia, and high hematocrit may indicate low blood oxygen levels.
I am pleased with the project's progress, though more fish on a more frequent basis would be nice! Nevertheless, things are going well and it has been a treat getting to fish with some of the MCI members. I am looking forward to fishing with more muskie nuts!
Tight lines everyone!
To read more about Project Noble Beast, visit www.projectnoblebeast.blogspot.com