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Indiana DNR Tracks Muskie Guide...

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Indiana DNR Tracks Muskie Guide Business
As muskie fishing in Indiana has grown to national prominence, so too has the state's muskie guide business.

Anglers now routinely hire licensed guides to fish for muskies, primarily at six natural lakes in the northeast corner of the state.

Muskies are large predatory fish that grow up to 4 feet long. Catching them usually requires experience and heavy-duty equipment.

According to DNR estimates, Hoosier anglers spend about $100,000 to $150,000 annually to hire muskie guides.

"That is big business when you consider a little more than a decade ago muskie guides in Indiana were unheard of," said Jed Pearson, a DNR fisheries biologist in Columbia City. Pearson manages most of the muskie lakes in the state.

In addition to hiring guides, muskie anglers spend money on travel, food, lodging, and other indirect costs that also help boost the local economy.

But what began as exponential growth in Indiana's muskie guiding business has leveled off and is now declining. Pearson said he is looking into possible causes.

"Because licensed guides are required by law to report their activity and catches monthly to us, we have a good set of data to track long-term changes in muskie fishing," Pearson said.

From 2001 through 2008, the number of guided muskie trips per year increased from 60 to more than 500. Since 2008, the number has dropped each year and was down to 288 in 2012.

The largest drop occurred at Lake Webster, Indiana's premier muskie fishery. Muskie anglers took 284 guided trips to Webster in 2008. That number fell to 81 in 2011 and 82 in 2012. Trip numbers also declined at Lake Tippecanoe and the Barbee lakes.

The number of muskie guides also peaked in 2008 at 16 and has since declined to eight. The largest drop occurred at Lake Webster.

Overall numbers of muskies caught by guided anglers fell from 357 in 2008 to 260 last year.

"We think the decline in the economy had a lot to do with the decline in muskie fishing, but other factors are probably at play as well," Pearson said. "We need to look into them and reverse the trend."

Media Contact

Jed Pearson, DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, (260) 244-6805.