COLUMBUS, OH - More than 16,000 muskellunge (muskie) fingerlings will be stocked into eight lakes across the state this fall, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resource (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. State fisheries biologists will stock the 8 to 12 inch fingerlings into Alum Creek, Caesar Creek, Clear Fork, Cowan, Leesville, Piedmont, Salt Fork, and West Branch lakes in September and October.
This year's stocking program will include two, special educational events for the public at Clear Fork Reservoir in Morrow and Richland counties, and at Leesville Lake in Carroll County.
"Anyone interested in learning more about muskies, observing these fish up close, or wanting to watch the stocking activity is encouraged to attend, " said John Navarro, administrator for Ohio's fish hatchery program. "Muskies capture people's interest because of their large size and fighting ability."
The first educational program will be held at Clear Fork Reservoir's new boat ramp on Thursday, September 25 at 10:30 a.m. The second event is slated for Friday, October 3 at 12:30 p.m. and will be held at Camp Muskingum.
The muskie fingerlings were raised at Kincaid State Fish Hatchery in Pike County and London State Fish Hatchery in Madison County. The 8 to 12 inch muskie fingerlings will grow to a catchable size of 30 to 36 inches in three to four years. Muskellunge are long, slender fish with a large duckbill shaped mouth and needle sharp teeth.
Muskellunge are native to Ohio and are found in both major drainage basins of the state. Historically, they were abundant in the bays and tributaries of Lake Erie and in many streams in the Ohio River Valley.
Thanks to the wildlife division's stocking program, muskies are also found in several lakes around the state. Prime muskie habitat is found in heavily vegetated lakes with plentiful tree stumps and bays.
Prime stream habitat for muskies includes long pools with a minimum depth of at least 3 to 4 feet and an abundance of submerged woody structure.
Typically, male muskie range from 22 to 39 inches long and weigh from 3 to 21 pounds. Females can range from 22 to 50 inches in length and weigh from 3 to 40 pounds. The state record muskie is listed at 50.25 inches long and weighing 55 pounds, 1 ounce. It was caught in 1972 from Piedmont Lake in southeast Ohio.
Bait casting and trolling are the most popular ways to catch Ohio muskies. A wide variety of lures are used successfully, including pikie minnows, bombers, daredevils, spoons and various spinners and artificial worms.
Casting to the edge of vegetation beds and submerged cover and using a fast retrieve is often productive. Trolling with deep running lures, like the bomber, during the summer months takes numerous muskies. Muskies are strong fighters and provide a great thrill to anyone lucky
enough to hook one.