Muskellunge time

M

Mike

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As I mentioned a few months ago, February is a good muskellunge month and I would extend that into March. As if I needed a reminder, a former WCO just sent me a pic of a 50”, 43 lb pure muskellunge recently taken from Nockamixon. While I touted the abundance of muskellunge and the lakes growing population in the past, now the females are getting large. Based on comparative survey data recorded recently, the Nock now has one of the best populations in Pa. Tack on Marsh Creek Lake and Lake Marburg and one of the best river stretches in the state ( Susquehanna from York Haven Dam to Bainbridge) there are now very good populations with large specimens across the entire SE region. Blue Marsh isn’t as good, but the population is still fair and composed primarily of tigers at the moment with some pures coming on. Also, the population in the Schuylkill from just below Reading upstream to the confluence of Maiden Ck just north of Reading is quite good. And of course, there are the well-known populations in Kaercher Ck Dam in Hamburg and the now declining population in Leaser Lake following the expected “boom years” population of a reclaimed lake. Look out NW Pa, the SE muskellunge populations are coming on strongly.
 
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As I mentioned a few months ago, February is a good muskellunge month and I would extend that into March. As if I needed a reminder, a former WCO just sent me a pic of a 50”, 43 lb pure muskellunge recently taken from Nockamixon. While I touted the abundance of muskellunge and the lakes growing population in the past, now the females are getting large. Based on comparative survey data recorded recently, the Nock now has one of the best populations in Pa. Tack on Marsh Creek Lake and Lake Marburg and one of the best river stretches in the state ( Susquehanna from York Haven Dam to Bainbridge) there are now very good populations with large specimens across the entire SE region. Blue Marsh isn’t as good, but the population is still fair and composed primarily of tigers at the moment with some pures coming on. Also, the population in the Schuylkill from just below Reading upstream to the confluence of Maiden Ck just north of Reading is quite good. And of course, there are the well-known populations in Kaercher Ck Dam in Hamburg and the now declining population in Leaser Lake following the expected “boom years” population of a reclaimed lake. Look out NW Pa, the SE muskellunge populations are coming on strongly.
I always fish small mouth in that stretch of the susky and Wondered how one would do fishing for musky there from the bank vs. in a boat.
 
Quick question.....are musky native to the waters you mentioned? According to what I've been able to find:

In Pennsylvania, musky are native to the Lake Erie and Ohio River watersheds in the northwestern part of the state.

Pretty sure you enjoying an invasive species goes against everything you post on here.

I fully support removal of musky from Susquehanna drainage and all lakes in the eastern half of the state. Just wanted to point that out so no need to take it as an attack.
 
Quick question.....are musky native to the waters you mentioned? According to what I've been able to find:

In Pennsylvania, musky are native to the Lake Erie and Ohio River watersheds in the northwestern part of the state.

Pretty sure you enjoying an invasive species goes against everything you post on here.

I fully support removal of musky from Susquehanna drainage and all lakes in the eastern half of the state. Just wanted to point that out so no need to take it as an attack.
Smallmouth are not native to the river. I am sure a few others are not either but I sure enjoy catching them.
Not sure on Channel Catfish, Walleye. Certainly not Crappies or Northern Pike or Largemouth. I would guess the Susquehanna had more Shad and Herring and eels and Striped Bass than many of the fish we enjoy now.
 
The difference is that I fish for wild browns, wild rainbows and self sustaining smallies which are all non-native (in the waters I fish). I do it without advocating for removal of them. Just find the selective outrage at non-native fish interesting.
 
The difference is that I fish for wild browns, wild rainbows and self sustaining smallies which are all non-native (in the waters I fish). I do it without advocating for removal of them. Just find the selective outrage at non-native fish interesting.
You just can’t separate fishing and conservation. You think I boycott brown trout? No I’m just getting back into my car after fishing for them this evening. Why can you not understand the difference between fishing and conservation. Because i fish for them does not mean I have to support stocking them, managing for them, or protecting them.
 
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I can't tell if you guys are for or against stocking musky? Personally I think it is great. If you are talking about only wanting native fish you are not considering how these waterways have been altered by man and no longer are a good fit for certain fish.
 
musky are native on the upper allgheny, they are from the conewango creek in ny.
 
Surprise surprise. Look who the first person to derail the thread is.
 
I can't tell if you guys are for or against stocking musky? Personally I think it is great. If you are talking about only wanting native fish you are not considering how these waterways have been altered by man and no longer are a good fit for certain fish.
I caught 2 Muskies last year on a 4.5" Brook Trout jerkbait. Both on the same day . Both were stocked fish caught in a manmade lake ,close to the mouth of brook trout tribs.
 

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I caught 2 Muskies last year on a 4.5" Brook Trout jerkbait. Both on the same day . Both were stocked fish caught in a manmade lake ,close to the mouth of brook trout tribs.

If you are talking about Ontelaunee, use live ones. You can get them at the N end feeders.
 
I can't tell if you guys are for or against stocking musky? Personally I think it is great. If you are talking about only wanting native fish you are not considering how these waterways have been altered by man and no longer are a good fit for certain fish.
I am bot for stocking anything, that said i only advocate for stocking reform not its end because you have to pick a fight you can win. If people want to throw rainbow trout in penny packer In Philadelphia i’m not going to speak out against it like I do for the slate run brown trout club launching a perpetual invasion at the mouth of one of what EVTJV has identified as a potential brook trout strong hold.

To mikes post, no I am not for stocking musky but fishing for them is different than supporting their stocking. I have posted o. These forums taking issue with PFBC stocking 1 million tiger musky fingerlings in swatara creek.

Here is my unmistakable stance. If its not a reintroduction or genetic rescue I am against humans moving fish. Simple enough.
 
Mike if your fishing for these musky in that stretch boat or walk and wade?
 
Now via may is a good time to fish for them. You east side boys still got nothing on the waters on the west side. Haha good luck as they can be a very picky fish.

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Mike mentioned the Schuylkill. Is there a decent population farther upstream? I ask because last summer, while smallmouth fishing in August, I hooked into something big and long. I hooked it briefly, and thinking it was a smally, set the hook and it didn't really fight at first, just came up to the surface. It appeared to be in the 30 inch range and long and skinny like that. Then, realizing it was hooked, it took one roll and my line went slack, it had easily cut the 8 lb test, and that was that. Still kinda tryin to figure out what it was. But pike or muskie was my belief.

This was between Auburn and Port Clinton. In fact, it was at the chutes.
 
I would have to think that is a musky Pat.

The last one I hooked was in the Susky and probably close to being a 50-inch class fish. We were bass fishing and as I picked the crankbait up out of the water the fish grabbed it right next to the boat. When I say next to the boat, his shoulder and tail hit the side of the boat. He went between the hull and the oar blade. Slowly drifted away with no chance of me stopping him. The line broke, he shook his head and my crankbait floated back to the surface. I pulled the anchor and went and retrieved the bait since those things are so expensive nowadays 😁. I'm not saying they don't fight hard but the three that I've hooked have put up minimal effort to get away.
 
Mike mentioned the Schuylkill. Is there a decent population farther upstream? I ask because last summer, while smallmouth fishing in August, I hooked into something big and long. I hooked it briefly, and thinking it was a smally, set the hook and it didn't really fight at first, just came up to the surface. It appeared to be in the 30 inch range and long and skinny like that. Then, realizing it was hooked, it took one roll and my line went slack, it had easily cut the 8 lb test, and that was that. Still kinda tryin to figure out what it was. But pike or muskie was my belief.

This was between Auburn and Port Clinton. In fact, it was at the chutes.
I would have said that there there should not be any muskellunge in that stretch, but one or perhaps a few of the spotted great lakes muskellunge stocked perhaps 8 yrs or so ago by Muskies, Inc was (were) recently caught in Auburn Dam, so it’s possible some moved downstream. They should be much larger than 30 inches by now, however, (smallest should be 36-40” males, so that leads me to believe that you most likely hooked into one of the very large pickerel from that same water body.
 
Mike if your fishing for these musky in that stretch boat or walk and wade?
Both depending upon river stages and locations. For example, the back eddy at Bainbridge by the boat ramp near the fire company can be fished without getting your feet wet and it’s been a good spot in the past for catches. The Falmouth boat ramp area could be good when the river is up a bit, but in lower flows it’s dead water.

As for our sampling, many of the fish seen or captured were in no more than three ft of water over weed beds that were attracting lots of shiners in early June. These beds were out along the islands. The upstream ends of islands were also good. There were no weed beds. Switch to early December or late November and we easily saw fish in clear water that were probably 8-10 ft deep.

As with a few other species, muskellunge tend to move close to shore when rivers are up (at least some part of the population does) and it’s a good way to target them if you can find spots that you can cast to from shore. Both sides of the river have suitable shore fishing spots and the York Co side may have more. It’s a tough call for me though because I have not explored each shoreline thoroughly, but with the “new” bike path on the Lanc Co side, perhaps there are now more areas to explore from shore. I don’t know how close it gets to the river shoreline. Maybe Raftman can detail that info for you.

As for habitat from shore, back eddies with at least 4 ft of depth and creek mouths, plus the break line where water flowing from creek mouths meets main river flows and trails a bit downstream as well are good starting points. I have also seen the fish over submerged tree tops in the near shore areas.

If you are tempted to venture below Haldeman Riffle, which is below Bainbridge, based upon years of sampling on the York side and mky specific sampling on the Lanc side, I would not bother. We have seen and electrofished them on the York side, but it’s been unreliable and the numbers have been low.
 
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