History of muskellunge management in Nebraska

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Abstract

Muskellunge, Esox masquinongy, were first introduced to Nebraska waters in 1958. By 1967 anglers had caught the first muskellunge from Nebraska waters. Hybrid muskellunge, Esox masquinongy × E. lucius, culture and stocking started in 1976. Harvest regulations for muskellunge and hybrid muskellunge were first established in 1977 with a daily bag limit of one muskellunge or hybrid muskellunge of at least 762 mm (30 inches) in length. In 2000 the minimum length limit for muskellunge and hybrid muskellunge was increased to 1016 mm (40 inches). Hybrid muskellunge have been phased out, none have been stocked in Nebraska waters since 2003. Since 1998 muskellunge fingerlings have been held in Nebraska hatcheries until age-1 before stocking. Yearling muskellunge are raised on minnows and other small fish in Nebraska hatcheries and stocking success apparently is very good. Management and research of Nebraska’s muskellunge and hybrid muskellunge fisheries has been limited to routine sampling that has documented the presence of those fish in waters where they were stocked. Fishable populations of muskellunge can now be found in nine Nebraska waters across the state, but most Nebraska anglers are relatively uneducated in fishing techniques for muskellunge, identification, and proper handling.