HIGHGATE – A Franklin County ice angler was charged Monday after harvesting and possessing a muskie caught in Lake Champlain.
Vermont State Game Wardens received numerous tips that the individual had posted photos on a social media platform displaying the large muskie with other fish caught over the weekend.
The angler was interviewed and told a Game Warden the fish was caught through the ice on Lake Champlain, but despite not knowing what it was, brought it home.
The muskie was seized, and the angler was fined for the violation.
Anglers may legally target and catch muskie in Vermont, but only on a catch-and-release basis.
Harvest of the species is prohibited as the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department actively works to restore the population of this native species to Lake Champlain.
Department fisheries biologist Shawn Good, who heads up the state’s pike and muskellunge management program, said the illegal harvest of muskie can harm restoration efforts.
The muskie was 34” in length, likely seven years old, and one of 7,500 fish stocked into the Missisquoi River in 2013 as 5-inch fingerlings.
Good says large, spawning-aged individuals are highly valuable to the success of the muskie restoration program.
“Fishing regulations exist for a purpose, and in this case, the no-harvest rule is designed to protect stocked muskie as they grow, reach maturity and hopefully spawn themselves contributing to the development of a self-sustaining population,” Good said. “This muskie would have likely deposited around 150,000 eggs this spring.”
Muskie has the potential to reach 60 inches in length and provide a truly amazing recreational fishing opportunity.
Fish and Wildlife enforcement and biological staff remind anglers that unidentified fish should be returned to the water immediately.