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Clear H2O

By Ted Pilgrim
Traditions Media

Patience, Petite Tackle and Opening Day Muskies

Eight months is a long time to wait between casts. When the season finally opens in May or June in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario, casting withdrawal reaches maximum angst. It’s just the sort of abstinence that can elicit a nasty case of lure charades, that nervous habit that makes certain anglers constantly change baits.

A dude I used to fish with had it bad, manically switching lures in hopes of discovering the one. You know the type. When follows are sparse, lure-changer rotates through whole piles of baits, a new one clipped to the leader every ten casts or so. And most of these anglers carry a boatload.

Now, as a bit of a lure collector myself, I’ve been guilty of the occasional wild experiment, believe me. But most openers, good, bad or otherwise, I mostly limit myself to a couple favorite baits, throwing them uninterrupted for 12-hours. Not that I don’t occasionally get tempted by what ifs.

For my friend, it wasn’t so easy. One winter, he’d accumulated a load of new baits—more ballast for his already over-crowded lure rotation. Things got dicey that particular opening day, as I recall counting 11 different lures clipped to his leader in the space of a single hour’s fishing. Late that afternoon, it looked like a jack-in-the box of baits had exploded all over his casting deck.

(Provided by IDNR)

Michigan's decision to cancel its muskie-stocking program this year due to a virus outbreak in adult fish they capture for muskie eggs has prompted Indiana DNR officials to say a similar situation could develop in the Hoosier state.

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSv), which is responsible for a number of dead fish in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, could potentially show up in Lake Webster, Indiana's only source for muskie eggs.

"If VHSv does show up in Lake Webster, we wouldn't want to bring infected eggs into our hatchery system where they could contaminate the water and spread to other fish," said Dave Meuninck, manager at the Bodine State Fish Hatchery and DNR fish disease coordinator.

To reduce the risk, Meuninck processes dozens of fish collected each spring from Lake Webster for testing during Indiana's muskie egg-taking operation.

The fish, including bluegills, bass, and other species, are captured in traps used to catch adult muskies.

By Louie Stout

Indiana biologist Tom Bacula poses with 10- and 8-pound wipers he captured in nets while studying the wiper population at Potato Creek State Park.

Indiana biologist Tom Bacula poses with 10- and 8-pound wipers he captured in nets while studying the wiper population at Potato Creek State Park.

When you make out your fishing “to-do” list for next year, consider tackling the hybrid bass that are taking a foothold in Worster Lake at Potato Creek State Park.

Most people don’t know much about these gamefish that have been stocked in the park lake annually since 2011. They were planted by the Indiana DNR with hopes they’d feed heavily on the gizzard shad that have created problems for Worster Lake fish managers for years.

Best known as “wipers,” the fish are a cross between a white bass and the freshwater striped bass. The combination produces the voracious feeding habits of white bass yet one that grows to larger sizes, thanks to the striped bass genetics.

District fisheries biologist Tom Bacula says the wiper fishery is doing well and one that anglers should consider targeting. He was at the lake last fall surveying the population and came away pleasantly surprised.

“I was very impressed with the numbers and size of fish collected, especially with it being a relatively young fishery,” said Bacula. “It appears as though we have all year classes present.”