Thousand Islands National Park of Canada

Search for muskellunge

Park partners with Muskies Canada for young-of-the-year surveys

Muskellunge young-of-the-year (above) are caught in seine nets (below) during annual surveys by park staff and Muskies Canada (www.muskiescanada.ca).  Surveys have revealed important spawning habitat along the St. Lawrence River.  This popular game fish is one of Canada's largest freshwater fish.
Muskellunge young-of-the-year (above) are caught in seine nets (below) during annual surveys by park staff and Muskies Canada (www.muskiescanada.ca). Surveys have revealed important spawning habitat along the St. Lawrence River. This popular game fish is one of Canada’s largest freshwater fish.
© Josh Van Wieren

Protection of spawning habitat is essential for the survival of the popular game fish muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). With this in mind, Parks Canada has partnered with Muskies Canada and the Ministry of Natural Resources to conduct annual young-of-the-year surveys in the St. Lawrence River.

During seine netting surveys, all young fish captured in shallow shoreline spawning areas are recorded. This has led to the discovery of important muskellunge spawning habitat in several places along the river.

Concerns about the health of the local muskellunge population were raised last summer when an alarmingly large number of dead muskellunge were floating to the surface of the St. Lawrence River. Muskie deaths are worrying to both sport fishermen and ecologists. At the top of the aquatic food chain, a problem with the health of this fish can indicate potential trouble for smaller fish and other river species.

Although the causes of last year’s die-off are still unknown, the event was not repeated to the same degree this year. On the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence, only about 10 dead muskellunge were collected in 2006, compared to at least 60 in the summer of 2005.