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Monday, January 29 • 3:20pm - 3:40pm
SYMPOSIA-02: Escapement and Seasonal Movement of Muskellunge and Walleye in Two Central Iowa Reservoirs

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AUTHORS. Robert E. Weber III, Iowa State University; Ben Dodd, Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Andy Otting, Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Michael J. Weber, Iowa State University

ABSTRACT. Escapement of fish over spillways and through outlet structures is problematic from a management perspective, and may result in significant loss of sport fish populations. This element of reservoir management is often overlooked, and little is known regarding factors influencing escapement, escapement rates, and methods for reducing escapement. In Iowa, Muskellunge and Walleye populations are maintained through stocking, and the loss of these fish can substantially reduce population densities, leading to lower angler satisfaction and increased production costs. Escapement of Muskellunge and Walleye from Big Creek Lake during high flow events was perceived to be problematic; therefore, a physical barrier was installed in the outlet in 2012 to reduce escapement. In 2016, passive integrated transponder antennas were installed at Big Creek Lake as well as Brushy Creek Lake, which has no barrier, to evaluate escapement and barrier effectiveness. Antenna data suggests that the barrier at Big Creek Lake has been effective in reducing escapement of adult Muskellunge and Walleye. To gain a better understanding of Muskellunge and Walleye behavior, adult fishes in each lake were implanted with radio tags, tracked by boat weekly, and various habitat metrics were recorded for each fish location. Home range sizes of Muskellunge and Walleye in Big Creek Lake were determined to be greater during spring than fall or summer, and were larger than Muskellunge and Walleye home ranges in Brushy Creek Lake. However, no escapement of radio tagged fishes occurred at Big Creek, while 8% and 15% of tagged Muskellunge and Walleye escaped from Brushy Creek, respectively. A combination of passive antenna data as well as active telemetry data provides insight into how various habitat and behavioral characteristics of Muskellunge and Walleye influence their escapement probability. This project will be continued through the fall of 2020 to better evaluate annual variation in escapement rates.

Monday January 29, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm

Attendees (4)