On Thursday, September 18, 2014 the Wisconsin DNR stocked 2,500 Muskie fingerlings in Lake Geneva. In order to distinguish this specific stocking vs. previous ones, the DNR requested the public’s assistance in “fin clipping”. Through communications channels across various fishing clubs, over a dozen individuals showed up to support this event held at the Abbey Springs Marina in Fontana-On-Lake-Geneva, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin DNR Fisheries Biologist, Luke Roffler, lead the team through the day’s event and provided detailed instructions for the fin clipping. We were tasked with performing a complete removal of each Muskie’s right pelvic fin. The complete removal was to ensure that the fin would not grow back, thereby ensuring the muskies’ growth could be progressed over time via future studies by the Wisconsin DNR. The complete removal of the fin is stated not to have an impact on the Muskie’s ability to swim or its ability to swim powerfully.
The following is a step-by-step account of the fin clipping:
- Prior to the arrival of the fingerlings (almost all over 12 inches), a net was placed across two docks to act as the pre-fin clipping staging area
- The fingerlings were the transported from the hatchery’s “bait truck” into the staging net via a large hose
- From the staging area, the fingerlings were then transferred to the clipping table by a large bait net
- The clipping table was basically a trough with circulating water and PVC piping on the sides that acted as a water slide for the clipped Muskies to travel for their final descent into the waters of Lake Geneva
Armed with DNR-supplied gloves and small craft store scissors, the clipping team completed all 2,500 clips in approximately 1.5 hours. During this time, volunteers became accustomed to slimy gloves and wet clothes. There was much laughter and comradeship as some fingerlings made attempts to escape the clipping table only to find themselves on the dock before being quickly re-captured by a team member.
This event was enjoyed by all who participated. It was wonderful to work as a team and to hear other individuals speak of their passion for fishing. Since Muskies are predator fish species, they are often disliked by other non-Muskie fisherman. However, this fin clipping team was represented by individuals who are members of Bass and Walleye specific clubs showing once again, that responsible stocking and lake management is to the best interest of all fisherman.
Per Mr. Roffler , it is unknown if these stocked Chippewa strain of fingerlings will naturally reproduce but it is anticipated that 20 percent will achieve the greater than 40 inch length during their lifetime. It was very exciting to see so many muskies at one time to participate in this event. I hope that all of you get the opportunity to practice catch and release with these Muskies as the progress into future trophies.
Personal Best Record = 43 Inches
FRV Member >15 Years