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Muskie as Invasive Species in NB

22930 Views 56 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  conservethis
Hey guys,

Like many anglers I think it's pretty cool that I can go out on the river here and have a chance of catching muskie. However they are an invasive species, and they are spreading south. I suspect in a handful of years they will be throughout the entire St. John river system.

What I don't understand is why there is not an uproar against these fish? They are a top level predator, with no natural enemies. Nothing to control their population except us anglers... and the majority of the serious musky anglers seem to be practicing catch and release. (although I could easily be wrong here).

Look at the uproar of asian carp getting into the great lakes. Or smallmouth getting into the miramichi river system. Is the problem with these two examples only because of money? (i.e. the fishing industry in the great lakes and the salmon industry (tourism, etc) in the Miramichi?

Personally I'd love to have salmon and trout improve in the St John system, but that seems even less likely with the introduction of these top predators. What about the sturgeon in the river? There is almost nowhere else on the east coast of North America with such a strong sturgeon population, but it is mostly isolated to this one river system. Will they eat young sturgeon?

I'm really not advocating the removal of muskie. I think it's too late for that now anyway. I just think it interesting that this invasive species seems almost welcomed.
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Why wouldn't the muskie be welcomed!

Our Fearless Provincial Leaders built the Mactaquac Dam in the '60's and this has pretty much singlehandedly done the most to tear apart what was at one time a world class Atlantic Salmon fishery. As if catching the fish in traps and trucking them upstream would replace their natural inborn instincts, simply because the guys with all the brains were too cheap to have a fishway desugned into the dam, figuring- " Hey, we can have a perpetual make-work project here" and be heroes forever; go figure.

Then along comes an accidental discharge of a few muskie from Quebec about the same time; through spring floods as I heard it, and they come along and find a niche in the pecking order and step in to fill it. Lo and behold, a growing high class fishery, replacing one ruined by man's shortsightedness.

Isn't God or Nature or whatever you may believe in wonderful!
I certainly don't deny that they represent a great opportunity for a new fishing industry. As I said earlier, I'm excited by the possibility of catching them. However there is a lot of unknown. We don't know what the introduction of these fish will do for current native fish in the St John. It might be 50 years before we realize what could happen. The world is full of invasive species that have done far more damage than anyone could have predicted. Look at rabbits in Australia - they are worse than rats. Or look at the Cane Toad, which was introduced to Australia to stop the invasive species of cane beetle.

My point is that you don't know what damage introducing a new species can cause. With no natural predators to keep them in check, what will do so in the St. John?

Maybe I missed it when they were first introduced into the St John, but I see warnings every year on largmouth bass or zebra mussels, etc., but not a boo on muskies. I tend to agree with you that it was welcomed because of it's potential for bringing in more anglers to the area.

I just find it funny that when it appears that there might be a new cottage industry as a result, nobody is talking about the potential dangers.
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Muskies also eat babies and peoples toes, proven fact.
Peoples toes? Oh man!! Now I won't be able to dangle my feet over the edge of my kayak!

How about young kids? I have a few to spare...
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Bill... I do agree with you. I started this thread just to get some conversation going, knowing full well that I was being a sh*t disturber. I never intended to organize an anti-musky campaign.

I also think the St John river has the potential to be a major angling attraction rivaling the Miramichi. With musky, stripers and sturgeon the potential for large fish is tremendous. Add smallmouth and you have a lot to attract people. I wish trout and salmon could one day be added to that list, but I don't think that will ever happen until there is a proper fish ladder at the dams. I also do feel that with the smallmouth, pickerel and musky in abundance that trout and salmon are at a huge disadvantage, and I doubt that the gov will invest enough in hatcheries etc to counter them.

So be it.

The trick is to find ways to keep them from spreading to the areas designated as non-invasive. This is truly a timely issue considering the smallmouth in Miramichi Lake. Maybe if anyone was ever caught doing this it was a massive fine and they receive a lifetime ban on fishing in New Brunswick.

Then there is also river systems that are connected to the st john that might be able to be good rivers for salmon and trout. The Hammond and Nashwaak come to mind, but can we keep the invasive fish out? Can we minimise their impact? What if there were no size or possession limits for pickerel, bass or muskie in these rivers (say above the tidal water line), and you were recommended to humanely kill any of these fish you caught? It won't stop them, but it might slow them down.
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They are purposely fishing shad. The striped bass and 3 small sturgeon are bycatch. However, I wonder if they have a minimum size to the sturgeon they are allowed to keep? Did they keep them and take them back to the tanks on the farm or just line them up for a picture and let them go? They will have the capacity in the future to produce a lot of sturgeon, however, I'd like to know how long it will take them to get the fish to market size? I've seen site plans and they will be putting in dozens of tanks.
I don't know what they would consider market size, but it's estimated that it takes them 20+ years before they are sexually mature and spawn. They are a very slow growing and long lived fish.
I believe the Americans closed sturgeon fishing in the 70's and I don't think their numbers ever came back to anything near what we have in our river systems. I believe that anyone who increases commercial fishing pressure for sturgeon in the Saint John river system is taking advantage of lax government regulations that never took into account that anyone would be interested in fishing them on such a scale. Sort of a viking mentality,"Burn, pillage and move on to the next village." Hopefully they can get their young sturgeon to market size quickly enough so that they can rely solely on their own broodstock and for resale so as to not continue applying pressure above and beyond what the Whepley's and any other commercial fishermen have had on the population. Too often we wait for our fisheries to hit rock bottom instead of keeping them at acceptable levels and I hope that our sturgeon population is not the next species to take the big hit.
I agree. The St. John river is one of the last places on earth for the Atlantic sturgeon to have solid numbers. A few other systems have a few thousand adults in the system, by the St.John has a very healthy stock, relatively speaking. While I applaud efforts to improve their numbers and help them survive, it needs to be done in a reasonable way. One that doesn't put other species at risk.
good luck with that......if you can catch 10 muskie in a day you should seriously consider going pro
Agreed. catching 10 muskie in 1 day seems rather ambitious.

As for the government protecting muskies, I don't see that anywhere. The bag limit is 10/day and the size restrictions are 10cm to 170cm. Really? I don't call that restrictive in any sense of the word. Sounds more like open season to me. Now the government isn't doing anything to actually restrict the spread in the Saint John River watershed, but I'm not sure there is much they could do about it at this time. Personally I think it is easier for them to sit back and wait for the fishery to spread and mature. Lot's of money will eventually be brought into the province because of it.
Acac, my apologies. When you said kill 10 I assumed you meant throw them in the woods like a lot of people do with smallies. By all means take your 10 a day. You will still not get them out of the river system or even slow them down.
Is there a difference what you do with your fish, provided you don't exceed your limit? Or are you required to keep them all with you while you are fishing?
keep on trollin!
acac... Jay has been around this website for a while, and his posts are articulate and well thought out. You may not agree with him, but that is your issue to deal with. Your "hook and cook" comment above tells me that you belong to that antiquated old school mindset that you keep what you catch, with no thought whatsoever to sustainability of the habitat. I have no problem with the argument that muskies should not be here. (I did start this thread after all) Unfortunately the approach you describe simply will not stop the species from continuing to expand it's habitat. Personally I don't know what would actually work to reverse the spread of these fish.
@mod... point taken.

@acac... my apologies for the personal comments.
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