Why are muskies the fish of 10,000 casts? Study explains
For anglers, landing a muskellunge, or muskie, is a big deal. The "fish of 10,000 casts" is notoriously elusive, making the massive fish an even bigger prize when one finally strikes a lure.
In a new study, University of Illinois researchers got into the minds of muskies to learn what personality traits make the fish more likely to strike. In the process, they learned valuable lessons that could help conserve the important aquatic predators.
"Our results clearly show capturing muskies is not random. There are behavioral traits that predispose these fish to capture. We need to use best practices to try and protect those traits and keep those individuals around so we can keep fishing long term," says Cory Suski, professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at U of I and study co-author.
Suski and graduate student John Bieber evaluated behavioral traits -- activity, aggression, boldness, and exploration -- for 68 young muskies in laboratory tanks before transferring the fish to an outdoor pond. Then they fished the pond every day for more than a month.
"After 35 days throwing our whole arsenal at them, every combination of time of day, lure, and casting style, we can verify muskies are indeed the fish of 10,000 casts. We only caught seven fish. In addition, we saw that catch rates decline very, very rapidly after the first several days," Bieber says. "It was a long month."