Photo courtesy of Matt Miles Fly Fishing
The upper James River in Virginia is one of the best musky fisheries in the East. When the state tapered off musky stocking in the James more than a decade ago, a wild population of the toothy critters took hold. Now the James is one of a handful of places where anglers can target a wild, reproducing population of freshwater’s most voracious predator.
This summer, biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and researchers from Coastal Carolina University are requesting the help of anglers. A total of 45 muskellunge in the upper James River have been implanted with tags to investigate the impacts of catch-and-release mortality on fish during the summer months.
Anglers who capture a tagged fish can report the tag to Cory Bauerlien of Coastal Carolina University via phone or text at 443-974-6171 in exchange for a $50 reward during the June to September study period.
To claim the full reward, anglers will need the tag number, a photo of the fish with tag visible, and the date, time and location of their catch. Anglers are also encouraged to report the capture of tagged fish outside of the June to September study period. It is imperative that anglers do not remove tags from fish.
Understanding the impact of catch-and-release mortality on musky will allow DGIF biologists to better manage this unique fishery.