NORTH WEBSTER — For the second year in a row, DNR fisheries biologists will tag and release 1,500 1-year-old muskies into Lake Webster to boost the lake’s sagging muskie population.
The stocking will happen this month. The fish normally would have been stocked last fall but were held over winter in a pond and fed live minnows at the Fawn River State Hatchery in the hope of increasing their chance for survival.
Studies in other states show that year-old muskies stocked in spring survive at higher rates than fingerling muskies stocked in fall, presumably because they can avoid predators more easily and have more food and cover in fall.
Muskies stocked this month will average 12.5 inches long, about 2 inches larger than a batch of 1,325 fingerlings stocked in the 774-acre Kosciusko County lake last fall.
Before stocking, each muskie will be tagged with a transponder that enables biologists to track the long-term growth of each fish and compare its survival with muskies stocked in the fall.
The tags were purchased and donated by Hoosier Muskie Hunters, an organization of muskie anglers based in Indianapolis.
Muskies have been stocked into Lake Webster for more than 35 years. The population peaked in 2005 and then declined. The cause of the decline is unknown.
Lake Webster is one of 13 Indiana waters stocked with a combined 20,000 muskies each year by the DNR. Six are natural lakes in northern Indiana (Barbee, Bruce, Everett, Skinner, Tippecanoe and Webster). Five are pits in southern Indiana (Bass, Bluegrass, Duck, Loon and Plover). Two reservoirs, Eagle Creek in Indianapolis and Brookville Lake in southeast Indiana, are also stocked.
Two other lakes in Noble County (Loon and Upper Long) are stocked with muskies by local anglers with a permit from the DNR.
Biologists say if the larger, older muskies eventually survive better at Lake Webster, similar stockings could be done at other Indiana waters.