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Pelican Lake Musky Population and Sustainability Concerns (Oneida County, WI)

8/15/13 @ 1:59 PM
User since 7/26/04
This thread has been developed following a question/comment topic from a fishing report thread for Pelican Lake in Oneida County, WI.

I would like to promote as much good, constructive conversation as possible.

Thank you all for participating and maybe this will spur positive action(s).

Listed is the thread that kicked this topic off:

>Fishjaw - 8/13/13 All- I have received a report from a neighbor that Pelican musky fishing is significantly down, and not nearly what it once was. This comes to me on the cusp of reviving my longtime relationship with Pelican, as I have been away for a few+ years... Can anyone comment, confirm, or deny this rumor/opinion? >Toothycritter – 8/14/13 Muskie population is low no stocking between 1998-2012,last fall 3611 fingerlings were planted.Fish are still being caught rock sructure and northeast shore are best at this time of year.Bulldawgs,topwater and suicks best baits IMO.Panfish still biting well I also caught small walleyes last weekend and some bass.Toothy >Zilo85 – 8/14/13 That is a 2011 survey of Pelican Lake. The Graph for musky is disturbing as you will see it shows hardly any small muskies and a big number of fish in the upper 30's to mid 40's. So hardly any natural reproduction in Pelican. I remember 15+ years ago we would go out there and it wasn't uncommon to move 10 or 12 muskies in a day and catch a couple. Now just one follow up can be hard to come by. Don't get me wrong they are obviously still out there, but there is a reason why a couple tournament trails don't go to Pelican Lake anymore. That being said, I still love this lake. >Fishjaw – 8/14/13 Thank you for the replies! I encourage more people to post on this subject (subject: musky population down?). Thanks again! >WiscoMuskys – 8/15/13 Musky population is waaaay down. Its very sad. Its not uncommon to go out for multiple days without moving a fish. something needs to be done, this lake can produce some huge fish, but its not going to have any musky if the DNR & local clubs don't help with stocking efforts. CPR! >Zilo85 – 8/15/13 A long time ago when they first stopped the stocking of musky in Pelican, I was told that the lake association was the cause of it. I don't know if that's true or bull crap but that's what i heard. Either way, how do you go about trying to get musky stocking back in place. I assume there will be a ton of hoops to jump through. I would be more than willing to donate time and money if I know there is a chance. Any suggestions? Sorry, i know this should probably be in a forum but i want people who go to Pelican Lake to see this. PM me if u want. for discussion!

6/16/14 @ 4:52 PM
User since 1/19/12
I recently posted on the pelican lake reports about potentially stocking the lake with some private investors. if anyone is interested, PM me, as I will be in contact with onieda county biologiests, musky clubs, and the lake association.

8/23/13 @ 10:47 AM
OO Buckshot
User since 10/4/05
I've been fishing this lake since I was old enough to hold a pole, my grandparents have a cottage in musky bay. I have noticed that there has been a sharp decrease in musky seen/caught over the last 10 years. The last time I caught a small musky out here was 2005 it was 22-24" The past few years I could fish this lake over a week straight without seeing a fish. The fish I have got out here have been healthy and usually are 43"+ Last time I saw a musky here was 3 years ago. 4 years ago I caught a few nice fish in fall. 2001 was a good year but it has taken a nose dive since then.

8/21/13 @ 11:25 AM
User since 7/16/09
I agree with that 100%. The spearing obviously has taken a major toll on the population. Add that to the lack of natural reproduction and no stocking from 1998 to 2012 and here we are on lake link, mostly in agreement, that musky fishing Pelican Lake is rough. With any luck, the stocking that will be happening every 3 years will hopefully offset the spearing in the future. I know it's wishful thinking but I'm trying to stay positive. And of course i will still be chucking baits for the big boys that are still there.

8/21/13 @ 10:33 AM
User since 6/10/11
This past winter as I was crossing the lake on my sled I stopped and talked to a Chippewa Indian who had a 40+ musky on the ice that he had just speared. I don't know but I would assume that this may have something to do with the declining population. Using such a low density species as a food source can decimate a population pretty quick I would assume.

8/20/13 @ 10:52 AM
User since 7/16/09
I sent an e-mail to the fisheries biologist for Oneida County asking if they planned on continuing the planting of muskies in Pelican. This is what he wrote.

The lack of natural reproduction on Pelican is puzzling to me as well. The habitat seems to be there, and we’ve seen some recent positive signs – young muskies have shown up in a couple fall surveys, and we captured them during 2011 and 2012 netting surveys. But the 2011 adult population estimate was low, about 1 fish every 16 acres and very few young fish coming up (few 30-40”). We’ve seen this in a few other lakes (like Minocqua Chain) where we created a high-density fishery through stocking, and natural recruitment did not take over when we quit stocking. My hypothesis that when we quit stocking, there is a lag in reproduction because artificially high densities created by stocking suppress recruitment. Natural reproduction may kick back in if we wait for a lower population, but I’m not patient enough to wait for it to completely crash in the hopes that they will take over on their own. The other factor is that we have moved Pelican into our broodstock rotation – we plan to take eggs every 3 years starting in 2012, so we’ll have fish from Pelican to put back. I put Pelican on a quota during egg-collection years, plan to stock 1 fish per acre every 3 years. That way we’ll be conserving whatever might be unique or special about the genetics out there.

So the DNR will be making a continued effort to get the numbers back up, but of course it will take time. But it's good news none the less.

8/20/13 @ 6:25 AM
User since 7/9/01
In 1998 at the annual meeting in July for the property owners ass.they passed a resolution asking the DNR to stop planting muskies.At that time app.2500 fingerling muskies were being stocked annually.After doing a of the lake in 2011-12 stocking was resumed last fall by DNR.People are also trying to get DNR to stock walleyes last year of walleye stocking was 1984 also that was first year of spearing.Toothy

8/16/13 @ 10:01 AM
User since 6/19/01
Ulbian is right. There was a group of locals that pushed to get the size increased and stocking stopped because it was believed that there were genetically pure fish still in Pelican and they wanted to try to increase the chance for natural reproduction by bumping up the size limit. This pretty much stopped angler harvest, but unfortunately the natives continued to pound the lake hard and speared a lot of fish under the 50 inch limit. I didn't realize that stocking has resumed.

Some good info here:

8/16/13 @ 9:59 AM
User since 12/19/08
Pelican Lake Stocking Record Out1_COUNTY_NAME:ONEIDA

8/15/13 @ 5:32 PM
User since 9/24/03
The stocking program being stopped was the main reason why a group got together and submitted a proposal to increase the size limit on Pelican. I have that proposal somewhere on one of my computers but would be willing to email it to anyone interested if I can find it and if you send me a private message. One of the guys who put a ton of time on that proposal sometimes visits this site so he might see this thread and chime in.

There was resistance from some locals in that area but the resolution passed at the spring hearings and the size limit was bumped up. Geez...that has to be about 6 years ago already. The work that those guys did and the way they did it should serve as a template on how to get those types of things done. A ton of leg work is necessary for this type of thing...door to door conversations, rallying support, knowing what the pros and cons are, understanding the ecostyem of a particular body of water, etc. It isn't just "Let's submit something and tell people on the internet to go and vote for it" type of work. This was a good example of how turnout at the spring hearings can be impactful.

8/15/13 @ 2:33 PM
User since 7/16/09
I'm sure there are plenty of fellow anglers that would like to see musky stocking on Pelican lake start up and and stay in place. As some people have already said, including myself, the population is way down and there is hardly any natural reproduction going on.

Now toothy critter posted that last fall 3611 fingerlings were planted. I was wondering if the DNR did that or a Club? And whoever did that, will it be a regular deal or was it a 1 time only?

Either way I would be willing to donate time and money if we can keep the planting of muskies going steady into the future. However I am looking for any info on how to make that happen. I don't belong to a club or have any idea how to try and make this happen.

Anyone have suggestions? Or do any of you have experience in the attempt to start stocking a lake where stocking has ceased?

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