MNR’s 2011 Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Program Was a Great Success!

Together with Muskies Canada Inc. and several other partners, MNR is proud to announce we have stocked more healthy muskellunge into Lake Simcoe in 2011 than ever before to support this ongoing restoration effort.

The Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Program (LSMRP) is a partnership between the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), Muskies Canada Inc. (MCI) and Fleming College at the Frost Campus in Lindsay along with many other project partners. The goal of this project is “To restore a self sustaining muskellunge population to Lake Simcoe through a long term restoration project including habitat enhancement and stocking efforts”.

“Since the program began in 2005, over 5,000 muskie have been stocked into the lake. In 2011, 1,960 healthy fall fingerlings were released at various locations across Lake Simcoe. This was our best stocking year yet!” said Emily Funnell with MNR’s Aurora District.

Key Messages

· Muskie were once quite common in Lake Simcoe. Due to several factors such as overexploitation (a commercial fishery for them existed until 1904) there was already evidence of a crashing population by the early 1900’s.

· The 2000 Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Feasibility study determined that restoring the native muskellunge to Lake Simcoe was a feasible fisheries management goal.

· Prior to any stocking, extensive research was conducted to determine the feasibility of the restoration program and the availability of stocking and spawning habitat in Lake Simcoe.

· During the current restoration period there is a year-long closed muskie season on Lake Simcoe

· If you catch a muskie in Lake Simcoe, put it back! We would also like anglers to report “incidental captures” to their local MNR office so that we can track how the population is doing.

· MNR knows that muskie are a highly sought-after species for many dedicated anglers. By working together to re-establish a healthy muskie population, we hope to some day have a muskie fishing season on Lake Simcoe again.

· Once muskie are re-established, there would be resulting socio economic benefits for local communities and Ontario anglers

· When stocking muskie – it’s more about quality of fish than numbers stocked. The muskie stocked from this program are exceptional – most are between 8-11 inches, a size know to provide excellent return and long term survival

· Rehabilitative stocking is a large component of MNR’s fisheries management and it supports a long-term commitment to preserving and maintaining Ontario’s biodiversity.

· Countless staff and dedicated volunteers have made the initial phases of the program a success to date. Ongoing stocking and monitoring will determine if the program has achieved its long term goal.

· The restoration program is intended to restore a self sustaining population of muskie in Lake Simcoe, not a put-grow-and take fishery so stocking will not continue for ever.

· Muskies Canada is already working to raise funds to continue the program through 2012

For more information or to set up an interview with Emily Funnell, the lead biologist responsible for the Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Program, please contact:

Wil Wegman
MNR Aurora District
905-713-7730

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