Tagging shows how the fish has thrived, grown and moved over the last 13 years
You’ve no doubt heard of the Travelling Wilburys, but what about the Wandering Muskie?Good friend and expert guide Lisa Goodier, who works at the Ottawa River Musky Factory,was guiding guest John McCormick the other day and darkness was falling fast.
“We decided to hit one last spot before heading in,” Lisa told me. “It is a big weed bed and the conditions were perfect—warm weather and calm wind—for throwing a topwater. I could hear John retrieving the gurgling lure as I slowly used the electric motor to guide us around the edge of the weeds. Then I heard an explosion, and it was fish on.”
Lisa said she could tell immediately from the stout fight the fish was putting up, that it was a good-sized muskie. So she was thrilled to slide the net under a personal best fish for her guest, measuring 51 inches in length and 22 inches around the girth.But then she noticed something usual: A floy tag sticking out of the fish.
“It had obviously been tagged several years ago, because the marker was covered with a thick black coating of algae,” Lisa said. “But I was able to rub it off and get the number before we carefully released the fish.”
It turns out the muskie—a female—had been originally tagged by the Quebec fisheries folks, which isn’t surprising given the Ottawa River is the boundary between Ontario and Quebec.What was a source of amazement, however, was the fact the fish was originally caught in 2011, in the Lake of Two Mountains, which is the delta where the Ottawa River spills into the St. Lawrence River, not far from Montreal.
“In the intervening 12 years, the muskie grew a little more than an inch per year, given that she was 37 inches when she was initially tagged,” Lisa said. “But she also travelled more than 110 kilometres upriver and somehow managed to navigate her way through the massive Carillon Dam and hydro-electric generating station. How amazing is that?”
How incredible indeed, and testament—once again—to the importance of catch-and-release.