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Producing Big Muskie for Ohio's Waters

April 19, 2013
By Larry Claypool - OVO Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Ohio's Leesville Lake (Carroll County) produced several hefty muskie recently when a team of Fisheries Biologist from the ODNR conducted their annual egg collection program. I was asked to tag along - and photograph - the proceedings on April 15. It was a great day to be on the beautiful lake, but the female muskellunge were not cooperating. Only one quart of eggs would be collected on this day, far short of the target.

ODNR Fisheries Biologist Curt Wagner was in charge. This would be the fourth day trap nets would be pulled at Leesville. Up to this point none of the needed 15-20 quarts of eggs had been collected.

"It's been tough so far," said Wagner at the time. "We've had a lot of females. They're just not ready."

Article Photos

ODNR Fisheries Biologist Curt Wagner holds a nice male muskie used to fertilize eggs from a female fish taken in Leesville Lake.

Free flowing eggs from the king-sized females depends on a lot of factors, according to Wagner. Weather and water temperature are important factors. The previous week's weather was up and down, mostly chilly and rainy, and very unpredictable. No producing females were netted.

Since I was there to record the entire collection process, it was great that at least one nice-sized female was able to offer about one quart of eggs. Three male fish would be brought to shore to produce enough milt for the eggs. The DNR crew collected all of the needed materials from the muskies.

To continue the process a team of workers from the DNR's London (OH) State Fish Hatchery made the trip to Leesville and readied the stock for transport back to the hatchery. London Hatchery Coorindator Tim Musser was in charge of timely fertilizing the eggs with sperm that had just been collected. He explained that by adding water, the eggs would be fertilized within 20 seconds. A few minutes of water rinsing and then the eggs were quick dipped in iodine to kill germs and placed in another bath for 30 minutes. Shortly afterward it was packaged for a truck ride to the hatchery.

Fact Box

Leesville Lake is best known for producing many large muskie.

From there the fertilized eggs were placed in jars with water at 53 degrees. Gradually the water temperature would be increased until fingerlings arrive. When the fingerlings reach 4-5 inches they are placed in the hatcheries' outdoor ponds. In September the 9-12-inch fish are stocked by the DNR in nine different lakes in Ohio, including Leesville.

The DNR's muskie stocking program gets a lot of attention at Leesville Lake. It's best known for producing many large muskie. Actually the lake has more reported muskie catches than any other body of water in the state - many of those over 36 inches.

For more information about muskie fishing in Ohio, visit the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club website at: Also see the Division of Wildlife's Muskie Angler Log page at: The DNR encourages muskie anglers to join the Muskie Angler Log to report muskie catches, track their own fishing success, and keep up on catches reported around Ohio. Surveying muskie populations can be difficult, so the Division of Wildlife uses this tool to monitor the success of their stocking program.

Article Links

See the complete article and more photos on this topic in the Summer edition of Ohio Valley Outdoors Magazine.



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