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That’s about 480,000 people, and those people notch about 5.3 million angler-days fishing for muskellunge each year. They spend $425 million directly on muskellunge fishing, according to the recently published 2012 Muskellunge Management Update [PDF]. “More anglers are discovering the fun and the challenge of musky fishing,” Simonson says, a statement backed up by this year’s National Championship Musky Open in Eagle River, billed as the nation’s largest amateur event for the species.
A record number of anglers representing 15 states entered the August tournament and caught a record 198 muskies. And there were more records -- more husband and wife teams than ever, and the most fish and most inches of fish caught and released by one person. Jeff Van Remortel of Minocqua won with a catch of six muskies totaling 223.25 inches, according to a press release by the event coordinator.
Simonson says the increased interest in musky fishing reflects in large part the recovery of the musky fishery in the last generation. “By all measures, the fishing just keeps getting better and there are good waters to fish in most parts of the state.”
Ninety percent of musky waters occur in northern Wisconsin, but populations of the state’s official fish are found in almost every corner of the state and anglers can even find good fishing from shore in some places.
“For those anglers who do not have boats, ample shore-fishing opportunities are present on the free flowing portions of the lower Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers in downtown Eau Claire,” says Heath Benike, DNR fisheries biologist in Eau Claire.
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