: Do You Believe There Are Weed/Rock Fish AND Open Water Fish?
09-30-2001, 07:02 AM
Do you think that there are two distinct types of Muskies? One that prefers the safety and security of cover, and one that is a true water wolf, roaming only the open water looking for meat. Or do you think it is the same fish, just in different areas of it's home range? I was looking back at the Fall 2000 issue of Esox Angler and read an article by George Langley. He talks about still working the weeds and the edge of the weeds in the fall, rather than dropping to the deep edge and trolling. He states that he believes that even though you catch Muskies deep and shallow, that they are the same fish. He refers to the deep fish as being "in their living room", while that same fish shallow, is "in the kitchen" looking for food. He doesn't say that the fish "in the living room" aren't hungry, in fact he talks about Tom Gelb and Tony Rizzo catching deep fish at the same time he was successful shallow, just that he has a better chance to catch it when it moves to "the kitchen". What do you think?
10-01-2001, 06:46 AM
I believe there are 3 kinds of muskies out there. There are those that stay shallow year round. They feed and live in or around the weeds for much of the year, occasionally moving to edges or transition areas. There are those that stay immediately head for the deep water after spawning and stay there for most of the year. This group predominantly exist ONLY on big water where access to trout, salmon, ciscos, and whitefish exist. The only two times of the year they'll go shallow is to spawn, or to follow their prey onto their spawning areas. The third fish is a mobile fish that moves back and forth between deep and shallow water for a variety of reasons. I'm not sure I buy into the theory that the fish move shallow to digest their food. It may be for other reasons that we do not fully understand scientifically, such as factors related to egg production, oxygen content, pH, current, or god knows what combination of these factors. Fact is, unless "we" want to invest tens of thousands of dollars on very detailed radio tracking studies with even more powerful transmitters and receivers, we may never have the answers we all crave.
The big muskie caught by Martin Williamson last year poses some small answers. By analyzing the cleithra, scientists can now determine that years of low growth are attributable to high stress levels - primarily to being caught/released. Martin's 17 year old fish, caught in one of the most heavily fished "trophy allies" in Georgian Bay, had NEVER been caught before. It was caught in deep water in late November. Analysis of its stomach contents suggest (whitefish and herring) that it was feeding deep and staying deep.
10-01-2001, 07:19 AM
How do you know that the Williamson fish was NEVER caught before?
And as far as shallow and deep dwellers go.... I don't think it matters where they spend MOST of their time. If there is a 40 pounder in 5 feet of water and another 40 pounder two cast lengths away in 50 feet of water.... I would think that the shallow water fish would be easier to catch. Irregardless of whether it was hungry or full to the gills... it is much easier to get your lure in front of a shallow water fish... thus increasing your opportunity.
Personally, I feel there are MORE big fish down deep... simply due to lack of pressure and a better chance of living long enough to grow BIG. The trick is being able to predict when those big girls MAY move shallow where they are more vulnerable. Otherwise, if you are truly tophy hunting... then concentrating your efforts deeper may be more productive. So which is a more productive method.... concentrating DEEP or SHALLOW? And how do you know?
I think people assume that shallow fish are feeding because they appear to be "easier" to catch... but perhaps it is simply a matter that we can more efficiently fish shallow water than deep water? And those shallow fish that we can't convert into eaters.... well, it sure helps the ego to suggest that they were FULL and already digesting (thus putting the blame on poor timing) to explain why we couldn't catch them.
So, if the world record musky swimming some unknown water only travels shallow 1% of the time.... which is a better way to catch her.... hope to time it just right and locate her when she finally moves shallow and is more vulnerable... or go after her in the deep where she lives 99% of the time? I'll go out on a limb and suggest the LUCKY fisherman who catches her will happen to be "in the right place at the right time" and connect with her shallow.
Does that mean we should ONLY fish shallow? Absolutely not. Perhaps if we could answer the question of WHERE muskies spend most of their time (shallow, deep, rocks, weeds, suspended, or whatever) it could help us determine where to start. Cause right now... How do you know? You can't catch 'em if they ain't there.
10-01-2001, 07:46 AM
Hey you guys, your making my head hurt.
I have....in many cases caught the same fish in shallow water at many different times of the season. I have also seen
groups of fish swimming together, on or near main lake structure. As my client and I watched, we counted 6 very large
muskie moving upon a shallow rock bar.
The stucture was located in 25 to 30ft of water and this was at 2:00pm with a
very brite sun in august. They would not chase any bait we tossed their way, I for one, believe that they were there
to digest their meal. Just this last weekend....I had several follows in the shallow grass, I doubt they had just moved in from deeper water, this bay is
well away fom any main basin areas.
But hey, thats just my opinion!
10-01-2001, 08:31 AM
I spoke in-person with Arunas Liskaskis, the M.N.R. regional biologist who attended the removal of scales and the cleithra from the Williamson fish, and who personally delivered same to the hands of Dr. Ed Crossman / Dr. John Crossman for analysis.
The Crossman / Casselman analysis showed that each of the 17 years of growth on the Williamson fish were considerably above average (typical of a genetic freak that was partially or totally sterile and growing at an accelerated rate). There was not even the slightest hint of stress in the growth rings, which a capture/release would have certainly produced.
Interesting stuff. As an aside, the cleithra of a number of big fish from Georgian Bay (some not public knowledge) caught and killed or found dead are now giving the M.N.R. a pretty good picture of where we have had good year classes. They are now looking into factors that made those year classes so successful such as weather, water levels, etc.. This may help in future years to provide fisheries managers with another tool to help predict or even be able to influence the success of a given year class.
10-01-2001, 08:57 AM
How confident are the MNR that the stress of a catch and release event would SLOW the growth of a muskie? If this is proven to be true... perhaps that could be a significant explanation as to why the smaller lakes of WI are not pumping out as many BIG fish... even with a higher size limit.
If a fish is caught and released several times in its life (or perhaps several times a season) it may take twice as long to grow to trophy size. As we "recycle" fish, are we hindering their growth potential????? Just a thought as this would be a very interesting discussion.
10-01-2001, 09:22 AM
I think it depends mostly on the individual lake when one is talking about shallow water and open water fish. I think most Muskies move a lot during an average day and may frequent both open and shallow water locations. I also think it depends mostly on what the baitfish are doing. Muskies like to follow the baitfish and where the baitfish are, so are the hungry Muskies.
Just my experience. Good fishing all.
10-01-2001, 11:21 AM
From what I can gather, they are VERY confident when it comes to Georgian Bay fish. I suspect this has to do with their size. It's likely something akin to comparing the rings on a 100 year old maple versus a 100 year old sequoia tree - much easier to discern minor changes with that monster sequoia because of the size of the rings.
If the fish was caught quickly and released, I wonder how serious an effect this might have on feeding - I would think it is minimal. A sloppy release might be another story altogether. On a fish that has been caught multiple times, or possibly transported in a livewell and deposited elsewhere in the lake - this could be very material.
Dr. Mark Ridgway feels that muskies seem to display homing tendencies very much like smallmouth bass. When they (smallmouth) are displaced, they will migrate back to their home range, often with little or no feeding along the way. This puts them at great risk during the heat of the summer and late in the fall, as this additional travel and lack of feeding is placing even greater stress on their systems. As for tournaments, Mark has asked the question about whether muskies "bleed" sodium as do walleyes. Walleyes have a very high mortality rate in and after prolonged exposure to a livewell. When stressed, their gills "expel" sodium, which can kill the fish just as quickly as lactic acid build-up. He wonders whether anyone has ever done any studies on muskies to determine if sodium "bleeding" is an issue for them as well.
This is fascinating stuff. Certainly begs a lot of questions for which we have few hard answers.
10-02-2001, 10:50 AM
I found what you wrote to be very interesting. Perhaps you can answer this or ask the biologist. How confident are they when they see a stress ring that it is from being caught in the past? Are there other things that could cause these stress marks such as disease or being displaced from their home range, etc...?
10-03-2001, 05:35 AM
Jim,my perception to your question is there are two populations of fish using different elements in certain bodies of water.
Fish move and they move alot.Some fish set up residence in certain areas or structure like weeds or points.Others travel to and from weeds,possibly using other weed beds.I beleive as they get bigger their needs change and they must adapt to whats availible in their environment.One other thing as the pressure build in shallow water,I beleive they become more accustomed to deep water as a safe heaven.
Open water fish are unblemished clean fish.From what I have noticed is they are either up in the water colum or down close to the bottom.
The only occasion I have caught some of these square tails in shallow is on pre frontal days.I am not saying they do not use weeds during sunny days,just have not come across them in the summer in weeds.Fall a hole different story.I find they will come close to weeds and be along the shallow edge.Normaly they are suspended off the structure or around bait.On sunny days,they come up in the water colum.My assumption they are following the bait up.
Weed fish,skinny ,sunken fish.Agressive on sunny days.Normaly you get alot of movement.
I do beleive shallow or deep fish travel.I have noticed that many think they stay put.All big water telemetry I have read and disscused with the bio who did them all came to the same conclusion.They move alot.The bigger fish do that is.Maybe smaller fish tend to stay put.I have repeat caught some good ones with many miles between locations.Over years and sometimes within the same year.My beleif they are consistently on the move for food.Do some set up home ranges.I would suspect some do according to their needs and locations they frequent.
Your question on stress,from a study done on bass.It would seem that the stress level occured once the fish was taken out of the water.
I would suspect that warm water ,lack of food and maybe poor spawning could lead to stress levels shown on the rings.Most problably many factors come to play.
I just wanted to add, I found a spot on my river where the baitfish were just jumpin' to beat the band. I thought it was walleye herding them up against a deep drop off. But the only thing I caught out of that area of the river were six muskies (over two days) from 30 to 36 inches.
For us, the musky can't go deep. I fish a shallow river that supports amazing numbers of musky. I've often found musky in the shallows and along the weedline deep"ish". Fish rarely come from trolling the middle of the river "deep".
I've also noticed that I often see the musky moving down the river (surface hit, 50 feet later another surface hit, 100 feet later another hit ... ). So my vote would go with musky go both shallow and deep depending on the location of baitfish. Lately, if I want to catch musky fast, I look for the jumping bait fish.
10-03-2001, 07:42 AM
No, it is impossible to determine categorically what caused the stress level, but there are only a couple of things that could cause sufficient stress to effect the feeding level significantly to impair growth. Disease is one, angling is another, injury caused by a prop or even a lamprey could cause this as well.
Disease would likely be apparent, as would a severe injury. Even lamprey wounds/scarring would be visible to some degree. If none of these were present, then by process of elimination, one would have to deduce that the impact was from angling.
10-04-2001, 09:27 AM
First off as I always state in my seminars I wish God would grant me an interview with a musky. What questions I would have for it. Secondly I state I state that the muskie is the biggest and meanest dude in the lake and will go where it wants to when it wants to.
I think that the question about 3 different kinds of muskies is good but agree George langly.
Depending on the structure and food source of a lke it will vary greatly. So many factors play into this. I think that the radio tracking studies reveal the answers for those bodies of water only.
Some of the lakes I fish I have done great fishing deep and other have had little success. I look at those lakes and see many differences in them. It is like I say I believe it depends on the structure available and food source available in that water.
NOW........ what question would you ask a musky, only one please. Don Pfeiffer
10-04-2001, 10:54 AM
I tend to think along the sames line as Steve Wickens. I believe that there are open water, deep fish that live in the deeper, clearer lakes that spend the majority of their time simply folling schools of baitfish such as shad, ciscoes, etc.., and really don't have a need to go shallow, except for maybe the sunning or digestion theories. These fish are opportunists and have become very efficient in their feeding habits. They basically know where the food is and when it's available and don't need to spend large amounts of energy searching for it. The second fish is the weed/wood/rock or structure fish that spends most of it's time ambushing prey in and around the weeds or other types of structure. They too know the food is around but may expend more energy searching or chasing their prey. They may move to the outside weededge to feed but rarely travel beyond.
The third type of musky is more mobile, using both shallow and deep water for feeding purposes, maybe depending on the time of year.
I tend to like to make anolgies between humans and muskies, although we know that we have very different thinking capacities.
Weed fish - The person that goes to the local diner everyday, knowing that they will get something to eat but it may be a little differnt every day, crappie, perch, bluegill. They know the food will usually be their at some point in the day and take advantage.
Openwater fish - The person that hits the daily smorgasboard between the hours of ?. We go there knowing we can stuff our faces with all of the food we want. The musky moves up on the big schools of ciscoes, shad, whitefish, etc.. and very efficiently feeds on high protien prey.
Mobile fish - The person that says hey! I'm tired of eating hamburgers everyday, I'm going to do a little exploring on the other side of town. These fish may feed on shallow orinted baitfish but may go deep during ceratin opportunitic time sof the year to feed on open water prey.
The questions that I always think about are:
1- Does a weed oriented musky simply learn that the food will always be there and never have any reason the go deeper?
2-Does an open water or deep musky ever think that "Hey! I can easily feed out here whenever I want but something is telling me to travel in shallow to check things out, see if I'm missin something. Is the deep and open water the only "world" they know?
3-Do Muskies simply "go exploring"? Do they simply roam or is there always a specific reason for moving from one place to the next?