2020 Muskie Stocking Update from ODNR

April 20, 2020

Ohio Muskie Anglers,

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has taken a different approach to meeting our annual stocking needs for muskellunge during 2020 due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal of stocking 19,890 advanced fingerlings in nine reservoirs has not changed, but the way we need to go about it has.
This is obviously not a typical year and we have had to adjust in many ways. In a typical year, Division of Wildlife crews net adult muskellunge from Leesville Lake during early to mid-April to take and fertilize eggs for part of our muskellunge production. Then, additional fertilized eggs are obtained the Minor Clark State Fish Hatchery, operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), to augment our needs. Unfortunately, we could not collect eggs from Leesville Lake this year because the time period required to do so overlapped with the peak of COVID-19 ramping up, and, KDFWR did not take any muskellunge eggs this year for the same reason. Similar situations have occurred in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission believes that they may be able to provide our fish hatcheries with 55,000 2-3 inch fingerling muskellunge this June. These fish would be grown out in our hatcheries to advanced fingerlings to meet our annual stocking goal this fall. We are very appreciative of this generous offer and are hopeful that this approach works out. Fish production happens one step at a time and we will keep you posted as efforts progress.
Thank you for your understating and continued support. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.


Scott Hale
Executive Administrator, Fish Management & Research
ODNR Division of Wildlife
Phone: (614) 265-6554 e-mail: richard.hale@dnr.state.oh.us

ODNR protecting our Lake Erie Muskie Fishery

Thank you to the ODNR for helping insure the potential of a great muskie fishery on Lake Erie.   Their hard work deserves more recognition for all that they do.  The muskie destroyed was most likely in the four foot range.


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife has charged Szuch Fishery, Inc. with wildlife violations after investigators observed abuse and wanton waste of highly-prized game fish on March 31, 2020.

“This type of behavior is unexpected and unacceptable,” said Matt Leibengood, Law Enforcement Supervisor for the Division’s Lake Erie Enforcement unit. “I am proud of our investigators and officers working to protect Ohio’s natural resources.”

Division of Wildlife investigators observed and recorded Szuch employees intentionally injure a rare trophy-sized muskellunge after it was removed from a commercial fishing net in western Lake Erie. Employees were also observed removing numerous gar, a native fish important to the ecosystem, from commercial fishing nets and then breaking their spines and tossing the carcasses into the lake.

Szuch Fishery will appear in Oregon Municipal Court on charges of one count of causing intentional injury to a non-commercial fish species, 10 counts of stream littering and 10 counts of disposing of dead fish. Szuch employees Joseph Imre Jr., Holly Szuch, and Michael Szuch were each charged with one count of stream littering and one count of illegally disposing of dead fish.

If convicted, Szuch Fishery faces maximum penalties of $55,000 and a 30-day suspension of its ability to fish with commercial gear and to handle commercial fish or other fish at wholesale. The individuals face a maximum penalty of $750 and 90 days of incarceration.

Anyone can report a wildlife violation through the Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) Program. Wildlife violations can be reported anonymously via phone call or text at 800-POACHER (762-2437).

IceBreaker Event for March 28th is Cancelled

From our President, Jeff Ferjutz:


After discussion with the Board and with following the Governor’s protocol, I’m sorry to inform everyone that we are canceling the event at Peidmont on March 28th. This event could possibly be added later in the year, joined with an open event this year, etc. right now, we have to think of the safety of the anglers and everyone involved.
We will keep everyone updated. Thank you and everyone be safe!


2020 Banquet and Awards

Saturday night proved to be a wonderful February night in Ohio.  We gathered to celebrate 2019 at the SYB Party Center in Stow, Ohio.  What a great venue, with great support and good food.  Thanks to the team at SYB for helping make our night.

We gathered to welcome in our new President, Jeff Ferjutz, and thank our outgoing President, Paul Anderson for his many years of service as a Trustee, Treasurer and President.

We gathered to recognize our 2019 event winners for showing us how to be successful when many us of came up empty.

Spring Outing

May 4th & 5th, 2019

West Branch

1st Place – Mike Adamski

1st Place – Steven McManaway

2nd Place – Ethan Erb



June 8th, 2019


1st Place – Tim Smith



 Summer Contest

July 20th & 21st, 2019

Salt Fork

1st Place – Matt Clark



Minnow Fund Outing

September 28th & 29th, 2019


1st Place – Paul Anderson

2nd Place – Robert Basic



Muskie Munch

October 19th, 2019


1st Place – Ray Elkins



2019 Overall Tournament Winner

David White

4 Muskies


We gathered to recognize our award winners for their outstanding catches in 2019.

Fifty-Inch Award

2019 First Time 50” Catch

Lucas Marusiak

David White

2018 First Time 50” Catch

Pat Klingensmith


Matthew Smith Memorial

Award for Juniors 2019


Boys “Released”

Lucas Marusiak – 50.00”


Girls “Released”

Allison Wagner – 40.00”



Ohio Huskie Muskie Club

Royalty 2019


King “Released”

Scott Donohew – 51.50”



Queen “Released”

Linda Zonker – 49.00”



2019 H.E. “Pooch” Curry Award

(Largest Muskie Caught in Ohio)


Scott Donohew – 51.50”


May 30th, 2019


We gathered to honor our Mr. Muskie and Woman of the Year for their contributions to the success of our club and the muskie fishery in the State of Ohio.

Keith and Danielle Ott from the marinas on Leesville and Ohio Valley Boats.


Finally we gathered to hear a great update from Kevin Page, DOW, on the muskie program in Ohio and what we are learning from the tagging study.


Thanks to all who attended and we hope to see you at our IceBreaker event on March 28 at Piedmont Lake.

IceBreaker Tournament March 28, 2020 Piedmont Lake

This will be a one-day event with a $15 event entry fee, with the longest fish caught that day being the event winner.  Each angler will have the option to enter a Big Fish pool, a Total Points pool or no pool at all.  The Big Fish pool will be conducted as in past events, with an additional $5 entry fee and all proceeds going to the longest fish caught with no verification required, so only enter the pool if you are comfortable with this format.

The Total Points pool will have an additional $35 entry fee with the winner of the event receiving 60% of the pool, 2nd place 30% and 3rd place 10%.   There will be verification of all catches required as outlined in the material.

The purpose of this change in format is to try to encourage more participation in club events.  After this event concluded, the Board will assess the impact of the format and determine if the format should be used for any additional events in 2020.  Given the requirements of the rules and the difficulty in running such an event over two days, most likely the Muskie Munch would be the only other event considered.


Here are the event rules as currently constituted.  Please review the rules and feel free to provide your thoughts on the change, and any changes you might suggest.


  • All fish must be caught between 7:30 am and 7:00 pm on Saturday, March 28th at Piedmont Lake.
  • Registration for the event will be from 6:30 am to 8 am at the Reynolds Road launch ramp.
  • All fish must be 30 inches or greater to qualify for entry.
  • Neither live nor dead natural bait shall be permitted for the event.
  • All fishing and boating rules, regulations and licensing in effect in the state of Ohio shall apply and be adhered to by all event participants. It is the angler’s responsibility to know the rules and regulations of the state of Ohio.
  • This is a tournament where the longest fish wins the event, but the angler also has the choice to enter a Big Fish pool or a Total Points pool or no pool.
  • The angler with the longest fish will be awarded first place. No witness is required.  All fish must be successfully released to qualify.  If a fish dies or is kept, the fish cannot be entered in the event or either pool.  If there is a tie for the event winner, all those tying will be declared the winners.
  • All persons in the boat must be entered in the event and must be entered in the same pool. If the angler is going to enter a pool, they can only enter one of the two pools.
  • If an angler chooses to participate in the Big Fish pool, then they do so at their own risk. The winner will be based on the largest fish reported.  No photo is needed for the Big Fish pool.  The winner of the Big Fish pool is declared thru an honor system, so if you have any concern, do not enter the pool.  Ties will not be broken; the cash pool will be split among the entries which are tied.
  • Decisions of the tournament director will be final.
  • No fish will be reported to the Muskie Angler Log. It is the angler’s responsibility to report all fish caught.
  • For the event and the Big Fish pool, all fish must be reported to the tournament director by 7:30 pm at the Piedmont Marina launch ramp. For the Total Points pool, all fish must be sent via text with the angler’s name,  length, time caught and picture to the tournament director by 7 pm.   Final results will be provided at the Piedmont Marina launch ramp.
  • All anglers in the event must pay the $15 entry fee and any pool entry before 8 am on Saturday, March 28th.
  • If an angler chooses to enter the Big Fish pool, an additional $5 is needed for entry. All money collected in the Big Fish pool will be paid to the winner.  If there is no winner in the Big Fish pool, all entry monies will be donated to the Minnow Fund.
  • If an angler chooses to enter the Total Points pool, an additional $35 is needed for entry. All money collected will be paid to the top three positions reporting points with First place receiving 60%, Second place 30% and Third place 10%.
  • The applicable IRS notice 1340 indicates a tax exempt organization must report raffle prizes if (a) the amount reduced, at the exempt organization’s option, by the wager (the amount a person paid for the chance to win a prize), is $600 or more; and (b) the payout is at least 300 times the amount of the wager. Therefore, the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club will not be filing a Form W-2G unless both these conditions are met.
  • Total Points Pool special rules:
    • All anglers must be at least 18 years of age or fish with a parent or legal guardian.
    • All anglers must report their catches via text with the angler’s name, length, time caught and picture to the tournament director by 7 pm. All anglers must use a phone capable of taking and storing pictures and transmitting the angler’s name, length, time caught and picture via text.  Service varies by carrier at Piedmont with dead zones present with each carrier.  It is the angler’s responsibility to transmit all catch reports by 7 pm.  It is highly recommended that any entries be transmitted as soon as service is available.
    • All anglers must be at registration to be released at 7:30 am. You may launch you boat in the water prior to being released.
    • At registration all anglers must present their bump board for certification. The bump board will be marked at registration and that mark must be visible in any photo submitted to the tournament director.
    • Each angler will receive a unique marker which must be visible in any photo submitted to the tournament director.
    • Fish must be measured with the back facing the bump board, have the mouth closed, the nose against the side bump plate, tail squeezed for maximum length. Measurements are rounded down to the ¼”.
    • Photos should be taken with your phone first, then sent via text with the angler’s name, length and time caught to the tournament director. You are encouraged to take multiple pictures to ensure alternate pictures are available in case there is an issue with the photo sent to the tournament director.  All photos on the phone should be retained until the Total Points pool is finalized.
    • If the tournament official cannot clearly read the measurement in the photo, they will make their best determination and that decision will be the final measurement. The fish will not count if the official cannot see the picture, or unique marker, or board certification mark, or the fish’s nose appears to not be touching the front of the board.
    • Scoring is based on any fish 30 inches or greater will receive 4 points plus a point for each inch over 30 inches prorated by fraction. For example, a 42.75” fish would generate 4 points plus 12.75 points for a total of 16.75 points.  Total points for all fish determine the final score total for an angler.
    • Any unclaimed prize money will be donated to the Minnow Fund. If no fish are caught, all the money is donated to the Minnow Fund.  If only one angler catches a fish, they will receive the 60% payout with the remaining money being donated to the Minnow Fund.  If two anglers catch fish, then the 3rd place payout will be donated to the Minnow Fund.   If there is a tie for first place, based on the number of people tied, the money will be split for 1st, 2nd and 3rd   For example, if two tie, 1st and 2nd will be split.  If 3 tie, 1st, 2nd and 3rd will be split.   This will be true for each position.  Only the top 3 positions will be paid out.
    • Should any angler be caught cheating, it shall result in immediate disqualification and forfeiture of the event and pool entry fee.




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