Monster muskies thriving in Bay of Green Bay
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin’s state fish is thriving in the Bay of Green Bay and its tributaries.
DNR biologists just completed their annual musky survey and egg collection on the Fox River.
At the Fox Point Boat Launch in De Pere, it’s a spectacle that lures anglers and leaves them in awe.
Massive muskies up to 58 inches long splash about in a holding tank on a DNR boat.
“I’d say we have a top three fishery on the planet right now as far as muskies are concerned, I personally think it’s number one, but we’ve got some of the biggest fish on the planet right here in our own back yard,” says Bob Parteka with Titletown Muskies, Inc.
That’s quite the contrast from just three decades ago, when musky clubs and the DNR partnered to reintroduce Great Lakes spotted muskies in the Bay of Green Bay.
“Green Bay system, the watershed itself was absolutely decimated in the 20th century as far as muskies are concerned. They are native to this area. Unfortunately due to pollution, over-harvesting, things like that, these fish were almost entirely gone,” explains Parteka.
While natural reproduction remains extremely low, the thousands and thousands of young muskies released each year are growing at a rapid rate.
The reason is their diet.
“Primarily the forage itself, there’s so much food out there for them to eat, especially in the bay, but also in the rivers and other tributaries, Sturgeon Bay, up in Door County, Little Sturgeon,” says Parteka.
Once removed from fyke nets and brought to shore, the muskies are measured, weighed and tagged.
Then before release, biologists collect eggs to fertilize and transport to a hatchery.
“The fish will get stocked out this fall. The majority of the fish, they’ll go from the egg stage that you saw today, so they’re pretty small today, and they’ll be about 11 inches by fall,” says Jesse Landwehr, DNR Wild Rose Fish Hatchery Supervisor.
And once released, ready to join a population of muskies that in recent years has attracted fishermen from around the country.
“We’re very hopeful that we’ve got the next world record swimming around in our backyard,” says Parteka with a smile.
Open season for musky fishing begins Memorial Day weekend and runs through the end of the year or until the bay and rivers ice over.
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