The Outdoor Report

More Musky For Us All

A large female Musky receives an injection to induce labor.
A large female Musky receives an injection to induce labor.

By CWF Volunteer Allen Easterly

As a Complementary Work Force (CWF) Volunteer, I recently had the great pleasure to assist Region 2 and Region 4 Fisheries personnel begin the process of obtaining more Musky for release in Commonwealth waters.  During two separate trips, two teams of three or four, conducted an electro-fishing expedition on a portion of the James River where there is a very high population of Musky.

The huge, toothy fish were netted and brought on board to large live wells. Brought back to the launch ramp, the fish were sexed, weighted, and length measured. The males were immediately placed in a stocking truck loaded with fresh water.  The females were checked for the presence of eggs by the very skilled hands of Fishery folks.  They then mixed powdered carp pituitary gland in sterile water.  Once the powder had fully dissolved, it was injected into an open pocket at the base of the pelvic fins. The purpose of this unusual concoction is to induce labor.  The fish will safely lay its eggs soon after injection in a controlled environment. The females were loaded into a separate compartment of the stocking truck and all fish taken to a nearby hatchery for egg laying and fertilization.  There, once the female lays eggs, the male fish are milked of sperm to fertilize the eggs. The adult fish were then returned to the place they were netted and released unharmed.

Under close monitoring of Fisheries personnel, millions of Musky eggs strive to hatch and survive.  Life is rough in the world of fish eggs and not all will survive even though they are protected from predators.  Of those that do hatch and survive, they will be stocked in other suitable waters throughout the state once they are large enough to fend for themselves.

Being a CWF volunteer, besides being a lot of fun, allows you to be exposed to many fascinating educational experiences you just can’t find anywhere else.  If you’d like to consider joining the fun, learn how to become a volunteer today!

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