Originally posted by: davesett2000 on 2/11/2006 10:38:41 AM
The Time of Drastic Differences (Minnesota vs. Wisconsin)
Minnesota and Wisconsinâ€™s musky fisheries both improved through the mid-1990â€™s, with Wisconsin musky fisheries outperforming Minnesota musky fisheries through the mid-1980â€™s. Something, however, evidently changed in the late 1980â€™s to the early 1990â€™s, because Minnesotaâ€™s musky fisheries began to spit out huge muskies approaching the mid-50 inch range, with average sizes near the mid-40 inch range on almost all of Minnesotaâ€™s better muskie waters. Meanwhile, Wisconsinâ€™s very best muskie waters seemed to be stuck at an average size of 38 to 39 inches with only the rare 50-inch musky to boast of.
Word slowly began to leak-out within the musky community during the mid-1990â€™s that Minnesota was the place to go for big muskies, and lots of them. It is now 2005, and most in the musky world are fully aware that Minnesota has far surpassed Wisconsin as the premier trophy musky destination in the United States. In response, Wisconsin is losing many of itsâ€™ loyal musky fishing tourists to Minnesota because of that statesâ€™ vastly superior trophy musky fishing.
So, one must askâ€¦what change occurred in Minnesota that caused the Minnesota musky fisheries to explode with big muskies starting in the mid to late-1990â€™s? The answer lies with a change the Minnesota DNR implemented in 1982.
In 1982, the Minnesota DNR changed their stocking strategy of stocking a small growing strain of musky (the Shoepac strain), to stocking only the large growing Mississippi River strain of muskies that were once native to all the rivers, lakes and streams that make up the Mississippi River drainage system, including those in Wisconsin. The result is: Minnesota changed itsâ€™ stocking strategy to only the large growing Mississippi strain in 1982; and by 1996, Minnesota began to produce large muskies on a consistent basis. In the meantime, the Wisconsin DNR, with full knowledge of the success of the Minnesota policy of stocking only the large growing Mississippi river strain of muskies, has done nothing. It is now twenty-two years after that initial stocking of Mississippi river strain muskies by the Minnesota DNR and the chances for a 50+ inch musky is eleven times greater for anglers in Minnesota than it is for anglers in Wisconsin (according to catch records).
The Wisconsin DNR, despite the fantastic success of the Minnesota musky program, has refused to adopt the proven Minnesota stocking policy of using only large growing strains of muskies. In fact, the Wisconsin DNR is utilizing small growing strains of muskies for itsâ€™ statewide stocking program. The muskies that the Wisconsin DNR has been using for itsâ€™ statewide stocking program over the past couple of years are from Bone Lake in northwestern Wisconsin and the Squirrel Lake strain (from Little Arbor Vitae Lake, Squirrel Lake, Minocqua, and Big Arbor Vitae Lake) in northeastern Wisconsinâ€¦both strains are notoriously small growing and un-pure. The reason the WDNR is using muskies from these lakes for itsâ€™ stocking program is because there are so many of these small fish in these lakes that itsâ€™ much easier for DNR personnel to net them quickly and take the number of eggs needed without concern for the quality of fish that will result. We feel that ease of netting should take a back seat to the quality of the muskies in the nets.