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WVDNR partners with various organizations on Musky Mortality Project

SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has partnered with various state fish and wildlife agencies (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin), muskellunge angling organizations, Costal Carolina University and West Virginia University on a musky mortality project.

The study will help determine whether Muskellunge catch-and-release angling during the summer poses a significant source of mortality in southern populations. Studies are concurrently taking place in the James River (VA) and Stonewall Jackson Lake (WV), as well as in a hatchery pond setting.

“We have implanted radio transmitters into several fish in all locations,” said Jeff Hansbarger, WVDNR fish biologist. “We track these fish throughout the summer months to evaluate the effects that warm water catch-and-release fishing may have on the musky population.”

The goal of the project is for local anglers to catch half of the tagged fish on rod and reel during the warm water fishing period. Fish that are caught and released will be closely monitored for several days to determine whether an individual has survived or died after being caught and released.

If an angler catches a tagged musky on the James River or Stonewall Jackson Lake, they are asked to record the tag number, location of capture and date and time caught. Information can then be reported to Dr. Kyle Hartman or Peter Jenkins by calling 304-293-4797 or 419-667-4951.