Muskie fishing and the Art of Angling

(First published in Muskie Canada’s Release Journal summer 2019)

As muskie anglers we are constantly being bombarded with tips and techniques for catching more and bigger fish. The tackle and boating sectors are never far behind with their own innovations covering everything from the latest lures and colours, to a never-ending stream of mind-blowing advances in electronics. No doubt, it’s all leading to a reduction in the actual number of casts it takes to catch one of these epic fish.

Surely then, we anglers also need to stay informed about the latest scientifically supported, often citizen-science inspired catch-and-release muskie strategies. After all, the muskie fishery depends on our ability to release fish in ways that ensure their ability to swim away healthy. It’s our ability to do this without damaging the fisheries we love that defines the true art of sustainable angling.

Are you confident you’re applying the latest scientifically supported fishing practices that will ensure that you pass on a strong legacy to your children and grandchildren?

No doubt, conservation measures such as habitat reconstruction, scientific study, advocating for safeguards and protection, reporting incidents of abuse or destruction, and even applying moral pressure on fellow anglers to act responsibly, are all greater now than ever before. However, as a good friend pointed out the other day, our children will someday judge the way we engage in muskie fishing in ways similar to how we ourselves look back on those muskie anglers who came before us. So, if no one is perfect, and with so many great tools and opportunities at hand, what does it mean today to be gifted in the art of angling?

Increasingly, the angling public looks up to us to share the ethic of stewardship for the species and the habitat muskies occupy. This represent the very best of what can be defined as citizen science, and our methods are proven valid by fish biologists and other scientist’s. Good news, there exists a national organization focused on gathering up this knowledge and research with a view towards sharing it with others. Blue Fish Canada was a guest exhibitor at the amazing 2019 Musky Odyssey.

The mission of the registered charity Blue Fish Canada is to ensure the future of fish and the sport of fishing. This includes details on both catch-and-release best practices specific to Canada’s many regions and fish species, and scientific guidance on the sustainable harvest of fish for our personal consumption. Blue Fish Canada strives to blend and deliver this knowledge in ways that allows anglers to hold their heads high when discussing their passion; regardless what beliefs or opinions others might hold.

Blue Fish Canada champions other programs as well, including: establishing urban shoreline public fishing nodes for kids and people of all ages to connect with their local fisheries; distributing free personal shoreline clean-up kits; facilitating the involvement of angling clubs with conservation groups and scientists on vital restoration and research initiatives; speaking out on behalf of recreational anglers at water quality and fish health forums; and, by partnering in the collection and safe disposal and/or recycling of used fishing line, soft plastics and lead jigs and weights. But, mostly we share news and information about fishing sustainably to promote the art of angling through programs such as “The Blue Fish Radio” podcast.

Our ability to exercise our passion for fishing is dependent on the health of our fisheries. How we connect with fish and their habitat has a lot to do with the overall health of the ecosystem. It’s more than the thrill of the capture, and with respect to musky, has nothing to do with providing sustenance for our families. The art of angling means knowing how to engage in fishing in ways that will leave no lasting impact on a body of water or the animals that live therein.

Fishing, by its very nature, requires that we never stop learning. Observe, study, learn from the mistakes and successes of others, and most of all share with those you are mentoring how to best pursue the sport of fishing. To this end, we at Blue Fish Canada invite you to review “Ten Catch-and-Release Muskie Fishing Tips” that Muskies Canada Inc. has generously agreed to post on their website. These tips are meant as guidelines and not absolute must-do’s. They have also been fact-checked by leading Canadian fish biologists.

For more about Blue Fish Canada and our programs, or to sign up for our periodic newsletter, visit us at: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

To receive and listen to our weekly podcast, “The Blue Fish Radio Show”, a 25-minute audio production featuring people of special interest dedicated to the future of fish and fishing, visit: www.BlueFishRadio.com

Lawrence Gunther is the founder and President of Blue Fish Canada, and North America’s only blind professional angler, outdoor writer, podcaster, blogger and film maker. For more about Lawrence visit: www.LawrenceGunther.com