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It is unclear if muskie are native to Lake Vermilion. They were never sampled in the lake until after they were first stocked in 1968, although there are some old accounts of muskie being caught prior to 1950. Leech Lake strain muskie have been stocked regularly since 1987. The current stocking rate is 4,000 fingerlings every other year. Stocked muskie have been fin-clipped since 1993 to differentiate stocked fish from natural reproduction. Substantial numbers of un-clipped fish have been observed in recent assessments, indicating natural reproduction is occurring.
Muskie population assessments are done every 4-6 years on Lake Vermilion. Due to the large size of the lake, East Vermilion and West Vermilion are done in different years. The last assessments were done in 2011 and 2012. Muskie trapnet assessments target spawning fish in the spring shortly after ice-out.
Muskie trapnet catches have been gradually increasing since they were introduced as more year classes recruit to the spawning stock. To date, muskie catches have been higher on East Vermilion, while the average size has been larger on West Vermilion. In 2011 and 2012, over 19% of the muskie sampled were over 50 inches long. The largest muskie caught to date in assessment nets was 55.6 inches long. Watch muskie trap net assessment here MnDNR
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