Evidence of natural reproduction by Muskellunge in middle Tennessee rivers

Southeastern Naturalist
By:  and 



Native Esox masquinongy (Muskellunge) in the Cumberland River drainage, TN, were nearly extirpated in the 1970s due to decades of over-fishing and habitat degradation from coal mining, logging, and other land-use practices. In an effort to preserve the species in that drainage, a stocking program began in 1976 in the upper Caney Fork River system in middle Tennessee where Muskellunge were not native. A trophy Muskellunge fishery eventually developed, but it was unknown whether Muskellunge were reproducing in the upper Caney Fork River system or whether the fishery was wholly dependent on the stocking program. To establish evidence of natural reproduction, we used seines, backpack electrofishing, and boat electrofishing gear in 2012 to find age-0 Muskellunge in the upper Caney Fork River system. Natural reproduction of Muskellunge was documented in the mainstem Caney Fork River above Great Falls Dam and in 3 of its 4 major tributaries. Seventeen age-0 Muskellunge were collected and one other was observed, but not handled. Age-0 Muskellunge grew rapidly (1.80–2.34 mm/day), and the largest fish collected during the study reached a total length of 399 mm by 9 October 2012. A cessation of stocking for several years coupled with routine monitoring could reveal whether natural recruitment is sufficient to sustain the fishery.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evidence of natural reproduction by Muskellunge in middle Tennessee rivers
Series title Southeastern Naturalist
DOI 10.1656/058.013.0310
Volume 13
Issue 3
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Eagle Hill Institute
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 9 p.
First page 506
Last page 514
Country United States
State Tennessee
Other Geospatial Caney Fork River system
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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