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Fish & Game biologists track tiger muskie at Winchester Lake

Winchester Lake, ID- Anglers may notice a large pair of antennas connected to a battery box and solar panel at Winchester Lake this year. This contraption is a radio telemetry receiver, and its purpose is to track radio tags, which were surgically implanted in tiger muskie stocked at Winchester Lake. 

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The tags are equipped with a short antenna, a small battery supplying about 350 days of power, and a motion sensor that tells the receiver if the fish is alive or dead. Every 10 seconds the tags in the fish send out a radio frequency similar to your car’s FM radio, that only the receiver sitting on the waters edge can pick up. 

The receiver then logs how many pings and the signal strength from each tag in its memory bank. These detections indicate which direction the fish is and how far away it is. Fisheries biologists will monitor the receiver and download the tracking data every other week throughout the study period.

Winchester Lake has been stocked with about a hundred 9-inch tiger muskie every year since 1997. These stockings always occur in spring, but this year Fish and Game will be comparing the normal spring stocking to an additional fall stocking of 14-inch tiger muskie. Both spring and fall stockings will get equal numbers of fish and radio tags. 

The goal of the study is to identify how many tiger muskie survive after stocking, see if any of these fish are getting caught by anglers, determine if predation by fish or birds is an issue and to fine tune Fish and Game’s stocking strategy. All this effort is being made to make tiger muskie fishing better at Winchester Lake, and to ensure anglers are getting the best fishing opportunity for a unique fish. 

Tracking tiger muskie will continue through spring 2024 to monitor both summer and winter survival of the fish. Anglers should be aware of tiger muskie regulations which allows 2 fish a day over 40 inches. Meaning fish under 40 inches have to be released. 

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