NMDGF Tiger Muskie Management Summary (Fall 2011)
We conducted our annual fall survey of Quemado Lake on October 11-13, 2011. We caught and examined 59 fish, about average for our fall survey. The average size of the fish we caught was 30”. The largest fish was 39” and weighed 16.5 pounds. Overall condition of the fish was good to excellent with a relative weight of 102 (an “average” fish scores 100). We did not sample any small fish, nor did we expect to because the last fry stocking was in 2009. Our current estimate of population size is stable, with about 1200 fish greater than 18”. There does appear to be a cropping of fish at 40” and we will keep an eye on that situation and how it impacts our primary goal of controlling the goldfish population.
We conducted our fall survey of Bluewater Lake September 13 and 14, 2011. We captured 83 tiger muskie during this survey. Average length of the fish we caught was 34”. The largest fish we captured was 47” and weighed 26.5 pounds. Eleven fish (13%) were over 40” long. The fished stocked in 2010 are now about 24” long. Overall condition of the tiger muskie at Bluewater is somewhat better than in previous years with an average relative weight of 98. We do not have enough recaptures of marked fish to get an accurate population estimate at this time.
In 2012 we will continue our regular monitoring of these populations. We also plan to stock fry/fingrlings in both lakes next year. We have not decided whether we will attempt to raise some fish to fingerling size at Rock Lake next year as Leonard Rice has transferred to our Glenwood hatchery and we have not yet hired his replacement. We will stock numbers similar to what we have used in the past (for example if we stock fry we are looking at 20,000 into Quemado and 100,000 into Bluewater). The next several years we will be tweaking stocking and harvest in order to reach a balanced system now that we consider these introductions successful. If you have comments or questions regarding tiger muskie management in New Mexico, feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
NMDGF Tiger Muskie Management Summary (Spring 2011)
We conducted our annual spring survey of Quemado Lake on April 18 and 19. Our electroboat was broken, so we could only use nets for this survey. We were also hampered by high winds. We only caught a handful of fish. Size ranged from 22” to 38”. Overall condition of the fish was good with relative weights ranging from 100-117 (100 representing “average”). The small sample size makes more generalizations difficult. We currently plan to stock fingerlings next year (2012). Signs for the new harvest regulations were posted the week of April 25.
We conducted our spring survey of Bluewater Lake May 4. As in past years, this survey focuses on the response of the sucker and goldfish populations to predation by tiger muskie. We caught some goldfish this year, and white sucker numbers also increased slightly from previous surveys (380 suckers/hr in 2011 vs. 46 suckers/hour in 2010). We captured 7 tiger muskie during this survey. Average length was 37” and average weight was 15 pounds. All of the fish were between 26 and 42 inches (3 of the 7 fish were longer than 40”). While we did see smaller fish during our fall survey, we continue to have concern regarding recruitment of smaller fish into the population. We will monitor this condition more accurately during our fall survey. This lake is also scheduled to be stocked in 2012.
NMDGF Tiger Muskie Management Summary (Fall 2010)
We conducted our annual Fall survey of Quemado Lake on October 12-14, 2010. We caught and examined 30 fish, about 10 fewer than average for our fall survey. The average size of the fish we caught was 33”. The largest fish was 43” and weighed 19 pounds. Overall condition of the fish was fair to good with a relative weight of 94 (an “average” fish scores 100). All size classes were observed, including fish that were stocked as fry in 2009. Our current estimate of population size is stable, with slightly over 1100 fish greater than 18”. Our survey of goldfish in August yielded an index of 34 goldfish/hour of electrofishing, a decrease from our index of 157 goldfish/hour in 2008 and 377 goldfish/hour in 2006. This decrease supports our initial management objectives and we will be working the next several years to determine the correct balance between predator and prey in this lake.
As part of our fall survey at Quemado Lake, we also collected data regarding the trout population. We collected 62 rainbow trout coincidental to our tiger muskie surveys. The fish were all healthy with an average length of 18” and average weight of 2.6 pounds. Our observations indicated rainbow trout remain abundant in the lake, despite our change in stocking schedule to “flood” the lake with catchables in the spring and fall to dilute the potential predation effects of tiger muskie on the hatchery fish. This lake is very productive and it does not take long for rainbow trout to switch their diet over to natural prey such as crayfish and fathead minnows.
We conducted our Fall survey of Bluewater Lake September 14 and 15, 2010. This was our first fall survey geared towards developing an estimate of tiger muskie population size in Bluewater. We have implemented the tagging protocol we have been following at Quemado for the last 6 years and expect to develop a reliable estimate of tiger muskie population size in the next couple of years. We captured 44 tiger muskie during this survey. Average length of the fish we caught was 34”. The largest fish we captured was 44” and weighed 18 pounds. We also saw a number of small tiger muskie that were stocked as fry the spring of 2010 (about 11”-15” long) giving us hope that we will get some medium sized fish into the population over the next year or two. We expect to stock an additional 20,000 10” fish this fall.
We have not had time to effectively assess the new harvest regulations at Bluewater and Quemado Lakes. It will likely take another year or two to see these effects on the population (if there are any effects). Word of mouth indicates harvest has remained low, but I have heard of 43”-44” fish being harvested in Bluewater. I also noted a 40” fish dead for about 5 days (apparent delayed hook mortality) at Quemado Lake on the 14th. If you have comments or questions regarding tiger muskie management in New Mexico, feel free to contact me (email@example.com).
2009 Quemado Lake NMDGF Tiger Muskie Management Summary
We conducted our annual spring survey of Quemado Lake on April 14-16. We caught and examined 45 fish, about average for our spring survey. The average size of the fish we caught was 28”. The largest fish was 42” and weighed a little more than 20 pounds. The population remains healthy and our current population estimate is about 1000 fish greater than 24 inches. We will be conducting our spring survey of Bluewater Lake May 5. Our spring Bluewater survey usually focuses on the response of the sucker and goldfish populations to predation by tiger muskie, but we usually catch a few Tiger Muskies.
We are on line to receive 250,000 tiger muskie eggs from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in mid to late May. We will hatch these eggs out at Rock Lake Trout Rearing station and stock the majority out as fry. This year Rock Lake personnel will also attempt to raise some fish to fall fingerlings (9-14”) for stocking in September or October.
We are still working on implementing limited harvest of tiger muskie later this year or early in 2010. We are planning on having a bag limit of one fish greater than 40”. We feel this harvest is necessary to maintain healthy tiger muskie populations and to achieve our primary goal for this introduction—rough fish control. If you have comments or questions regarding our regulation development and management rational feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We conducted our fall survey of tiger muskie at Quemado Lake October 13-15. We collected fish using a combination of electrofishing and gill nets. We handled 67 individual fish during this survey. Mean length of tiger muskie was 32 inches and mean weight was 9.5 pounds. The largest fish we surveyed was 43 inches long and weighed 22 pounds. Overall the population looks healthy, but we are experiencing a surplus of tiger muskie 36 inches and longer. We have concerns that we will be unable to maintain a healthy tiger muskie population without initiating a limited take of larger fish. Therefore, we are proposing a one fish over 40 inch bag limit at Quemado and Bluewater Lakes beginning with the 2010 license year. This regulation should assist us in meeting our primary management goal with tiger muskie--rough fish control-- by promoting continued growth in large fish through reduction in competition.
We conducted our annual electrofishing survey of Bluewater Lake on May 5, 2009. The primary purpose of this survey is to evaluate the impact of tiger muskies on the white sucker and goldfish populations in Bluewater. We caught no goldfish during this survey. White suckers appear to have leveled out at a much lower level than before the introduction of tiger muskies. White sucker numbers were similar to those noted during our spring 2008 survey. Electrofishing is not our primary means of assessing the tiger muskie population, for that we use our fall gill netting surveys. However, we did catch 9 tiger muskies during this survey. Six of them were greater than 30 inches long. Condition indices were higher for tiger muskies at Bluewater than in previous spring surveys. We did not do a diet analysis during this survey. Overall the population appears to be healthy, but we are somewhat concerned about the sustainability of a large population of big fish (though it indicates angling for large fish should continue to improve in the near future).
Bluewater Lake 2002-2006.doc