Blue Fish News – April 26, 2021

In this April 26 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on New Brunswick’s Saint John River muskie and the research and advocacy efforts underway to prevent their eradication. We include summaries and links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. The Special Guest Spotlight Feature includes links and presentation summaries to this year’s amazing Muskie Canada Inc. 2-day Odyssey.

Image of the Musky Factory Bait Company Abigale Culberson and Lawrence Gunther holding a large musky

This Week’s Feature – Defending New Brunswick’s Saint John River Muskie

Some 60 years ago the Quebec government sought to reestablish muskie in a small lake that was part of one of many watersheds that fed New Brunswick’s Saint John River. Inevitably, the muskie established a viable population, but to the consternation of Atlantic salmon conservationists, they also eventually found their way into the Saint John River itself. Ever since, New Brunswick’s now Thriving muskie population has been the source of continuous hard feelings, misunderstanding, and government sponsored fishocide. Enter, Muskie Canada Inc and a legion of muskie fanatics that recognized the Saint John river muskie population for what it is, North America’s next muskie fishing hot spot.

Of course, angling enthusiasm is seldom a sufficient reason in itself to single-handedly save a fish population from destruction. There also needs to be an ecological, historic, subsistence, cultural, or economic incentive. In the case of NB muskie, growing enthusiasm for this recent newcomer is its ability to attract non-weather dependent anglers to the region. Tourists that are expanding what is otherwise a relatively short summer tourism season.

NB muskie are the focus of an image make-over thanks to widespread positive international media coverage in the form of TV shows and magazine articles that are universally declaring NB muskie as north America’s newest hottest muskie fishery. At the same time, scientists have been hard at work testing and generally debunking fears that muskie are dining out largely at the expense of endangered Atlantic salmon. Numerous scientific reports have now determined that muskie, while happy to consume fish of most any species and size up to ½ their own length, are not, in fact, targeting Atlantic salmon. Further, that their predation is not contributing to the demise of Atlantic salmon. Of course, sceptics point to seals as another species scientists have similarly absolved of suppressing salmon recovery, which just goes to show that even science isn’t sufficient to convince the most skeptical among us.

Never-the-less, the muskie have arrived, they have become habituated or naturalized, or in other words, made themselves a new home. Removing a fish species from a watershed, once established, is near impossible, but that doesn’t mean a concerted effort backed up with considerable annual funding can’t keep a fish species suppressed. One need only look at the $20 million spent each year to control lamprey in the Great Lakes. The question is, do politicians and the public who elect them want to see their tax dollars being used to suppress a fish species, that for all intents and purposes, is a net benefit to the social and economic fabric of the region? For some, such a capitulation represents moving one step closer to abandoning any hopes of returning to the glory years of world class salmon angling.

For well over 100 years New Brunswick was famous for hosting wealthy guests from around the world at private salmon lodges. Anglers who were often tightens of industry, royalty, members of family dynasties, and others who could afford to stay at expensive lodges and fish private stretches of pristine salmon rivers. Unfortunately, Atlantic salmon have been in decline throughout much of southern Atlantic Canada. Numerous contributing factors are to blame, and considerable effort and expense is being expended to research and restore Atlantic salmon. To be clear, no angler wants salmon to go away. They are a native keystone species. Their loss would represent an epic failure of humanity.

While salmon angling tourism throughout much of Atlantic Canada has shrunk, in New Brunswick a different yet equally spendy class of anglers are growing in number each year. Both local and from away, in comparison to salmon anglers, muskie anglers seem to come from a somewhat different class of society. Bucket hats and tweed jackets have been replaced with ball caps and Goretex coats. Self-propelled drift boats have been replaced with high-tech fishing boats that can cost well over $100,00 when fully rigged. Former salmon fishing purists who used to slip in and out of New Brunswick with as little fanfare as possible, are being replaced by muskie anglers interested in meeting up with local fishers, and even taking part in friendly walk-on fishing competitions open to tourists and locals alike. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that muskie anglers represent your typical weekend recreational warrior, not at all.

Muskie anglers belong to a class of their own. These are anglers who have decided to dedicate 100% of their angling-allocated time and budget to the pursuit of one species of fish, muskie. A species of fish that can often take 10,000 casts to capture just one, and yet, will dominate an angler’s waking hours and dreams.

So why is it that muskie are still on the “hit list” of certain New Brunswick conservation groups and government regulators? Local champions such as Marlon Prince, the Chair of the Saint John River Muskie Canada chapter, have been fighting back, forming alliances, funding research, and engaging politicians such as NB’s Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Development, Mike Holand. Both were presenters during the two-day on-line Muskie Odyssey organized by Peter Levick and his army of Muskie Canada Inc. volunteers. Another of the panelists was Abigale Culberson from the University of New Brunswick.

I spoke with UNB researcher Abigale Culberson to learn more about muskie research, the state of the muskie population itself, and the factors influencing their sustainability. Abbie and her team recently conducted a series of studies to assess the muskie population in the Saint John River, and the current and potential impacts of fishing pressure on their sustainability. The model they created reveals a 30% annual mortality rate for these non-native fish, which they estimate will rise as fishing pressure increases. They conclude steps need to be taken to reverse current policies, regulations, and culls – all of which have the goal of suppressing the Saint John River muskie population. Link below to hear Abbie speak about her team’s research and sustainability concerns on this episode of The Blue fish Radio Show:

Competing interests pitting one fish species against another isn’t unusual in the world of fisheries management and shifting angler preferences. It’s not unusual that “one anglers’ garbage is another angler’s treasure”. Unfortunately, the rules on how to settle such disagreements are intentionally vague, with government often taking a “wait-and-see” approach.

Pressure is growing across Canada to restore and protect native fish species. Creating fisheries known for abundance using fast-growing non-native species is no longer considered by many as constituting the prime directive. Debates over ethical choices concerning adding or subtracting fish species are happening. Complicating matters are growing awareness of fish health impacts caused by climate change, invasive species, disease, cultural preferences, indigenous rights, ecological puritanism, angling fashions, dietary preferences, and more. It’s no wonder opinions range widely about whether a fish species is welcome or not. At the risk of sounding like an animal rights activist, I have to ask, who is standing up for fish?

It’s time we get to the table and work out some welfare rules for wild fish. We have an ever-expanding set of standards for safeguarding both farmed and companion animals, but surprisingly little that concerns fish. Sure, how and if a fish species can be harvested is one such set of well-defined regulations, but what I’m talking about are rules that would address one species being granted greater or less protection compared to another. Just maybe, if we had clearer fish species protection rules, people would stop taking matters into their own hands.

Aquarium fish like Goldfish are proliferating in lakes across Canada and habituating themselves to the detriment of native fish species. This isn’t an anomaly. More extreme examples of such actions include Common Carp being introduced to North America, the introduction of Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout across Canada, the addition of Pacific salmon into the Great Lakes, the unintentional transport and release of invasive species, and more. Examples, large and small, that sends the message that impacting established ecosystems is O.K.

By establishing general principles governing the rights of native and non-native fish species, conflicts concerning species dominance can be avoided. More importantly, we would have a clearer understanding of what it means to conserve what we have, instead of falling back on thinking that we can fix our mistakes by simply adding more or different fish.

The Latest Fishing, fish Health and Water Quality News


Angling as a Path to Conservation Stewardship / Fishing Wire
Many of us know intuitively—that anglers and others who use natural resources are a tremendous asset for the continuing stewardship of natural resources, and one that retains still untapped potential. the authors suggest that outdoor recreationists will likely play increasingly important roles in conservation efforts, in response to continued loss of recreational opportunities. To have positive impacts it will be vital for them to be organized and well informed as they attempt a societal shift from consumer to conserver that results in recreation specialization shifts from consumptive to appreciative.

How Microfishing Took the Angling World by (Very Small) Storm / Hakai Magazine
Around the world, fishers are embracing tiny quarry. Is microfishing a celebration of biodiversity or a sign of collapse?

Americans on fishing charters fined for crossing into Canadian waters / CBC News
Ten people who were on board American fishing charters that crossed into Canadian waters on the Detroit River are facing fines of $8,800, according to the RCMP. Four U.S. fishing charters were spotted on the Canadian side of the border on Thursday morning. Authorities were able to intercept two of them while the other pair of vessels fled back into U.S. waters.

No Canadian Fishing Trips this Summer for U.S. Anglers / FishingWire
There’s too much uncertainty about the pandemic’s path in the coming months for Canada’s federal government to engage in discussions about reopening the Canada-U.S. border, said Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

Three banned from fishing, holding licences in Canada after overfishing violations / Times Colonist
Three people have been banned from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada after pleading guilty to overfishing on Vancouver Island in 2019.

Get a trout with the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program / The Nelson Daily
The Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program is designed to help the iconic kokanee salmon population recover after their collapse in 2013. The incentive program encourages anglers to catch and retain rainbow and bull trout while giving the juvenile kokanee a chance to grow.

Kamloops fly fishing poised to see another strong year / Sun Peaks News
Experts say fishing is seeing a bump in popularity in B.C. as people search for a safe outdoor hobby.

OFAH calls on government to reopen Crown land camping and to address boat launch closures / OFAH
The OFAH has sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford asking the province to rescind its decision to close Crown land camping, while also urging the government to address other access-related closures occurring in municipalities across Ontario.

Heart of the Fraser Should Be Named ‘Ecologically Significant’ / The Tyee
Along an 80-kilometre stretch of the Fraser River, between the towns of Hope and Mission, beats an important ecological heart. Home to almost 30 species of fish, these waters host B.C.’s largest single salmon spawning run, as well as the province’s finest white sturgeon spawning habitat. The undiked islands throughout the stretch also provide key rearing habitat for millions of young salmon, especially chinook, which make up the primary food source for endangered southern resident killer whales. In addition, the area supports an exceptional diversity of birds and other wildlife, and provides cultural, recreational and economic opportunities for First Nations, local communities, outdoor recreation enthusiasts and many others.

“Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas” (EBSAs) / DFO
“Areas identified as EBSAs should be viewed as the most important areas where, with existing knowledge, regulators and marine users should be particularly risk averse to ensure ecosystems remain healthy and productive.” Among other things, EBSA designation serves as a basis for the “identification of Areas of Interest (AOIs) and of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)”.

Industry leaders fear US climate change plan will put large areas of the ocean off-limits / Angling International
Efforts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address climate change in fisheries have met with opposition, with some industry leaders saying climate change doesn’t exist in the ocean.

EFTTA CEO pledges to ensure anglers can fish in Marine Protected Areas / Angling International
CEO of the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) discussed the role that recreational angling can play in achieving the aims of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. That strategy contains ambitious targets for the implementation of MPAs to protect a minimum of 30% of the region’s sea area by 2030. At least a third – 10% – must be strictly protected.


VIDEO: Ottawa commits $647 million in budget to protect B.C. salmon stocks / Global News
Watershed Watch executive director, Aaron Hill, provides his take on the biggest federal budget for salmon in many years!

Stan Proboszcz: New threat to BC wild salmon revealed / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Recent government documents reveal DFO staff were shown new research indicating a bacteria that causes a disease called mouth rot in Atlantic salmon is hitting B.C. factory farms hard.

What To Do with Fish When the River Runs Dry / Hakai Magazine
When people come to the aid of stranded fish, are the salvaged truly saved?

This year’s Yukon River Chinook salmon run will likely be small, according to forecast / CBC News
Officials on both sides of the border are concerned that the run will once again fail to meet conservation and harvest goals.

University of Glasgow a Partner in Marine Tracking Program / ASF
A major tracking program in the eastern Atlantic is hoping to reveal the mysteries of mortality at sea in Atlantic salmon and other species in the waters surrounding Ireland and the United Kingdom. Comments also by Dr. Fred Whoriskey of the Ocean Tracking Network

Researcher Ian Bradbury on risks of aquaculture to wild Atlantic salmon in NL / CBC Radio
DFO’s Dr. Ian Bradbury talks about the effect of escapes in the context of a major proposed aquaculture expansion in South Newfoundland. He notes that aquaculture is perhaps the greatest threat to wild salmon today, with the threats from sea lice and escapes.

DFO to create $700M aquatic research centre in Moncton / Atlantic Salmon Federation
A significant overhaul of the DFO building will turn it into a major ocean and freshwater research facility.

Salmon breeding habitat protected by Island Nature Trust acquisition / Atlantic Salmon Federation
Good news for wild Atlantic salmon and other fish species on Prince Edward Island, as a segment of the Vernon River has received important protections.

How fishing apps can help ensure the health of our fisheries / Outdoor Canada
Using apps on smartphones and tablets, anglers across Canada are keeping better track of the details about their time on the water. From where and when they went fishing to the number of fish kept or released, it’s exactly the type of real-time information recreational fisheries managers can use to ensure the future of fishing.

International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Conservation award
The IGFA Barry M. Fitzpatrick Conservation Award was given to The Wild Salmon Center. The Award acknowledges significant and outstanding contributions towards fisheries conservation. The Wild Salmon Center (WSC) is the leading group working to protect the strongest wild salmon rivers around the entire North Pacific. “When you protect salmon, you protect a whole watershed and everything in it, including people. The most beautiful and important rivers of the North Pacific all depend on salmon and the nutrients they carry inland from the ocean.”

5 ways fish are like you and me / EarthSky
Scientists who’ve studied fish – including their neurobiology, social lives, and mental faculties – say they’ve found time and time again that fish are more complex than we’ve realized. Here are five things’ fish have in common with humans.

Research Shows Predators May Be Large Factor in Decreased King Salmon Size / KYUK
The size of king salmon returning to Western Alaska rivers to spawn has been decreasing over the past few decades. Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks think that they’re closer to understanding why. Research indicates that returning king salmon are getting smaller because the bigger ones are being eaten by predators, like salmon sharks. Predators’ preference for larger fish may have always existed, but there could just be more predators now than in the past.


How to meet the ambitious target of conserving 30 per cent of Earth by 2030 / The Conversation
Canada has an extensive system of protected areas that, when added together, would cover an area slightly larger than Ontario. But Canada also has a new conservation goal called 30 by 30, which aims to conserve at least 30 per cent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030. Meeting this ambitious goal would mean roughly doubling Canada’s protected area.

Conservation Authorities Very Pleased with Federal 2021 Budget / Conservation Ontario
Proposed environmental actions and funding include flood management, biodiversity, green infrastructure, environmental monitoring, wetland and shoreline restoration and support for local tourism. “What the Federal government proposes to do through this budget is very important to address the climate change impacts that conservation authorities see across Ontario’s watersheds,”

Great River Rapport / River Institute
A space to explore the many different facets of the Upper St. Lawrence River ecosystem. Information from scientific studies about the ecosystem, its past and present state, and the people who are connected with the river and how their knowledge and observations are linked to the scientific work.

How this conservationist rallied to get a Quebec river legal personhood status / National Observer
Writer Patricia Lane interviews Pier-Olivier Boudreault, conservation director for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Quebec.

Sea level rise creating ghost forests in U.S. East / Earthsky
Flooding seawater is raising salt levels in coastal woodlands, killing large patches of trees along the U.S. Atlantic coast, from Maine to Florida. These huge swaths of dying forest – known in the scientific community as ghost forests – are so large they can be seen from space.


Moderate livelihood negotiations to include elvers, says fisheries minister / CBC News
The harvest of baby eels in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is now part of negotiations to implement Mi’kmaw treaty rights to fish for a moderate livelihood.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Just Won a Huge Ruling for First Nations Fisheries / The Tyee
After a 26-month wait, the Nuu-chah-nulth are celebrating a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling released Monday that found the federal government has infringed on their commercial fishing rights in many ways. The ruling confirms rights to all species, such as salmon, crab, groundfish and prawn, but that this must be negotiated between the Five Nations and DFO, and their consent is needed. It also gives the Five Nations commercial fishery have priority over recreation and commercial fisheries.

App Developed with Indigenous Communities Fosters Safe Fish Consumption / IJC
Fish harvest and consumption are an essential part of Great Lakes Indigenous cultures. There are contaminants of concern that persist in Great Lakes fish, but those levels are not always so high that they are unsafe to eat. Especially when compared to store bought farm-raised fish.

Saving B.C. salmon: the Gitanyow’s plan to protect a watershed / The Narwhal
After years of trying to get the province to protect an important salmon watershed, one northwest B.C. First Nation is taking matters into its own hands.


Angler App Fishbrain secures $31m to accelerate global growth / Angling International
Sweden’s Fishbrain App plans to be the ‘go-to resource’ for anglers around the world. The investment will be used to continue to scale up its user base and solidify its market-leading position as the top platform for sportfishing.

Berkley and BoatUS Seek Entries for Recast and Recycle / NPAA
Berkley has teamed up with the BoatUS Foundation for the Recast & Recycle Contest to generate innovative ideas to improve the fishing tackle recycling process, increase the amount of fishing line that can be recycled, develop products from recycled items and discover new ways to reuse fishing line. Contest submissions can address any and all of these goals to improve the recycling process, and winning entries will receive $15,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place and $5,000 for third place.

Igloo introduces world’s first ‘recycled’ hard-sided cooler / Angling International

Dyneema takes major step towards renewable bio and recycled resources / Angling International
The manufacturer of Dyneema, the world’s strongest fibre and a key component in high-end fishing lines, has formed a coalition of industry partners to drive the transition towards renewable bio and recycled resources.

Shimano officially launches centenary website and looks to future / Angling International
Message from Shimano’s President, Yozo Shimano: “Today, we are seeing increasing numbers of people becoming more and more environment and health conscious. Moreover, because of the pervading sense of stagnation, many people have begun to pay keener attention than ever to cycling and fishing, regarding them as a means to relieve themselves from stress and refresh their body and mind. In this environment, Shimano is full aware of the vital importance of fulfilling its role to promote healthy and enriched lifestyles by supplying its products and to create a sustainable society.”


The Muskie Canada Inc. (MCI) 2021 Muskie Odyssey show went online for two days of action-packed entertaining and informative seminars. MCI’s Peter Levick and his over 50 volunteers raised the bar on providing virtual programming that included a secondary stream where over $49,000 in merch was auctioned off to raise funds for muskie research. Each MCI chapter was given their opportunity to shine by showcasing their unique fishery and conservation initiatives. Bonus special guests included two provincial ministers, top muskie guides, renowned authors, research biologists, government representatives and more.

Check out the links below to stream the recorded sessions on MCI’s YouTube channel:

Opening Show: Welcomes, introductions and a word from Hon. John Yakabuski Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Kawartha Lakes chapter Presents: The Kawartha Lakes: Look into this historic Muskie fishery and we’ll share the work of the Kawartha Lakes chapter & partners to research and manage invasive species and their impacts.

Ottawa Chapter Presents: The Ottawa River: The Ottawa Chapter presents well-known guide, John Anderson on fishing the Ottawa, as well as a look into management and research for this world-class fishery.

Toronto Chapter Presents: Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Project: Learn about the work of Muskies Canada, led by the Toronto chapter and many partners in this huge 14-year project to restore a once great fishery that was unfortunately lost in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Muskies Canada and OMNRF Present: Ontario’s Angler Log Program: See how this work helps provide the OMNRF with essential data to better understand the Muskie fisheries across the province, from logs supplied by MCI members.

Belle River Chapter Presents: Lake St. Clair Trolling Techniques by Pro Guides: Overview, how to fish Lake St. Clair as well as Belle River chapter’s work with partners on fishery management & research.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Presents: Lake St. Clair Muskie Telemetry Project: Lake St. Clair is an amazing fishery. Behind the scenes there is a lot of international research work happening to ensure it stays that way. Belle River Chapter, OMNRF and many partners are working to learn more about this fishery through leading-edge radio telemetry work.

Upper Valley Chapter Presents: The Upper Ottawa River Region: This fascinating part of the Ottawa River area, upstream of Ottawa holds a strong population of Muskies. Join us for a terrific session as we lift the veil on this well-kept secret Muskie water. Guide Jaime Sebastian will talk about the Upper Ottawa River, Black Bay and the Petawawa River system and some canoe-only lakes in the region that hold big fish.

Canadian Fishing Network and Muskies Canada Present: Women & Muskies: Top women anglers, pro-staff and guides will show you how Muskie angling is changing – for the better. These women who are all serious Muskie fanatics will show how women are increasingly excelling in the Muskie world.

Kitchener-Waterloo Chapter Presents: Tell Us About – My Best Day on the Water: Join us for a fun panel presentation by some well-known Muskie guides, Hall of Famers and well-known fanatics as they share stories of unforgettable Muskie experiences.

Saint John River Chapter Presents: New Brunswick Muskie Fishery – Challenges & Opportunities: The “Johnny” has been quietly establishing itself as a prolific Musky fishery for the past 15 years. Did you know these beefy maritime fish have been in the river for 60 years? Local DNR and biologists are working with Muskies Canada to ensure this fishery will continue to thrive. We are very pleased that Minister Mike Holland of New Brunswick will be part of this session.

Mississauga Chapter Presents: Muskie Handling Techniques – Catch & Release: Canadian muskie waters are all supported by wild populations. Thus, proper fish handling and a strong catch-and-release ethic become essential to maintaining our fisheries. Our experts will go over best practices to help ensure healthy releases.

Hamilton Chapter Presents: The Mighty Niagara: Above and below the falls there are very good Muskie fisheries. The current and conditions are challenging but the rewards are sweet. Big Muskies from the lake come into the river and Buffalo Harbour in the fall following bait. This is one of the best times to hunt for Musky in the area. Join host Brent Bochek as he leads you through this special Muskie fishery and shows us how EVERY CAST COUNTS.

Montréal Chapter Presents: Ma meilleure journée de pêche au maskinongé (in french): Au cours de cette session notre panel d’invités chevronnés partagera avec vous des histoires de pêche inoubliables. Si la langue de Molière est la votre (ou pas), soyez-y! Récits, techniques, astuces, et période de questions.

Gananoque & 1000 Islands Chapter presents: St. Lawrence River Muskellunge – An International Effort: The St. Lawrence is well known as a great fishery where Muskie fishing traditions go back decades. People are catching and releasing big fish. Why worry? Behind the scenes however, there are great concerns about invasive, egg-eating Gobies, virus-related die-off, loss of spawning habitat, and diminishing numbers of Young-of-the-Year (YOY). Don’t miss this session full of research and management work to save this endangered fishery.

Sudbury Chapter Presents: Managing Muskies In Northeast Ontario: Segment 1: Managing for more and bigger muskies! Discussion with Jeff Amos (OMNRF Northeast Region Resource Advisory Unit) about efforts to improve muskie fishing opportunities by changing seasons and Minimum Size Limits for a large portion of Ontario including Lake Nipissing and the French River. Segment 2: Spanish River Muskellunge Restoration. Arunas Liskauskas (OMNRF Upper Great Lakes Management Unit) will share details of a project so successful that it may have created the next HOT fishery for GIANTS of the north!

Barrie Chapter Presents: Georgian Bay, Land of the Giants: Segment 1: Summary of volunteer activity by the MCI chapter in closest proximity to Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. Segment 2: Presentation about fishing one of the world’s most legendary Muskie waters, Georgian Bay! This exclusive content will be provided by Kyle Garon, of Slobland Flicks, famous for hunting GIANTS and sharing those adventures on his Slobland Flicks YouTube Channel.

Ontario Sunset Country Travel Association presents: Sunset Country – Lake of the Woods and more: Join us for a trip to some of Ontario’s finest Muskie waters. Lake of the Woods is a mecca for Muskie fanatics. The fishery also has its challenges. Let’s look at this great angling destination but also consider some issues that are being worked on to ensure future sustainability.

Wrap-Up Show: Discussion of the overall event and what we can do to continue to provide great content for Muskie World.

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