Recovery of Riverine Muskellunge Populations in North Carolina

The muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) population of the French Broad River was sampled to determine relative abundance and growth characteristics and to document muskellunge reproduction. In addition, forage fish availability was also documented. Electrofishing catch per unit of effort rates were 4.7 fish/hour in the French Broad River. Over one-third of the muskellunge captured were non-stocked fish, indicating reproduction is occurring. Back-calculated total lengths for muskellunge in the French Broad River were 325, 476, 621, 727, 809, 881,910,961, and 1,026 mm total length at ages I-IX, respectively. Growth patterns of French Broad River muskellunge are similar to other riverine populations. That is, growth rates are faster at the younger ages (I-III) and slower at the older ages (VII-IX) than lacustrine populations.

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