Sports and Outdoors

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tagged muskie shows up in Oswego Lake

Indiana DNR Release:

NORTH WEBSTER – A 46-inch, 12-year-old muskie tagged in Lake Webster in 2005 was caught May 11 by an angler in Oswego Lake, an 83-acre basin at the west end of Lake Tippecanoe in Kosciusko County.

The fish spent its first seven years of life nearly six miles upstream in Lake Webster before apparently swimming out of the lake sometime over the last five years.

According to the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), fisheries biologists captured the muskie in a trap net on March 31, 2005, in a bay at the southwest corner of Lake Webster near the lake’s outlet.

At that time, the fish was 38.5 inches long and estimated to be seven years old, based on examination of annual growth rings noted on bone samples taken from the fish’s fin.

“We put a small electronic tag in all of the muskies we caught in Lake Webster back in 2005 in order to keep tabs on the survival, growth and movement,” said Jed Pearson, DFW biologist.

“Nearly all of the tagged muskies recaptured since then have been caught in Webster, but several have made their way downstream to the Tippecanoe Lake chain,” he said.

The tags, measuring about a half-inch long with the diameter of pencil lead, were inserted into muscle tissue of the muskies near the dorsal fin. They are similar to tags typically placed in cats and dogs for owner identification and have no effect on the fish.

The tags, however, are not visible to anglers.

So how did the fisherman who caught the wandering Oswego muskie know he had a tagged fish?

Chae Dolsen, local muskie guide in the area, takes with him on fishing trips with clients a battery-operated meter that allows him to read the tag numbers.

“Chae scans the fish he and his clients catch to see if they have tags. Then he reports the numbers and sizes of fish back to us,” Pearson said.

The tags and the tag reader were purchased by the Hoosier Chapter of Muskies, Incorporated, to enable biologists to gather more information on muskie populations in the area.

“We’ve learned a lot about muskie biology through the tagging project,” Pearson said.

“The 46-incher we caught in Oswego was only the second tagged one we’ve caught in Tippy or Oswego,” Dolsen said. “We’ve caught a few tagged ones in James (Little Tippy).”

James Lake is the furthest eastern basin in the Tippy Chain and the first lake downstream from Webster.

“I’m not surprised to see tagged muskies showing up downstream,” Pearson said. “Anglers were catching muskies in Tippy before the mid-1990s when we first started stocking them directly into the lake. Given the amount of food and space, I’m also not surprised to see that some of them are huge.”

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