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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 reservoir spillways may result in significant loss of sport fish populations. 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 ranges of Muskellunge and Walleye in Big Creek were greatest during fall, least during summer, and intermediate in the spring. Muskellunge in Brushy Creek had similarly sized home ranges among all seasons, while Walleye home ranges were greater during summer than fall. Brushy Creek home ranges were smaller for both species and all seasons. Muskellunge and Walleye in both systems were generally located in the pelagic zone over fine substrates, although the majority of summer Muskellunge locations in Big Creek occurred in the littoral zone. Additionally, 8% of Muskellunge and 15% of Walleye with radio tags escaped from Brushy Creek whereas no escapement of radio tagged fishes occurred at Big Creek. Telemetry data has provided insight into seasonal movement, habitat use, and escapement probability of Muskellunge and Walleye. 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 CST