"With the rain and higher flows we've had, rivers have stayed closer to muskies' preferred temperature range. That's one of the reasons we've been seeing a lot of catches."
Whitlow said he hadn't noticed much difference in water temperatures on the rivers he fishes, but he did acknowledge that the rivers were running higher and murkier, which made for easier fishing.
"If we were having to deal with low, clear water, the fishing would probably be tougher," he said.
Another factor in this summer's unusual muskie success is that the fish are moving more than they ordinarily might.
"And when they move, anglers tend to encounter them more," Hansbarger said. "Muskie movements usually peak in spring and fall. With the good conditions we're enjoying this summer, muskies are continuing to move, and that's another reason for the high number of catches."
Ever protective of the fish he's studied for years, Hansbarger said that anglers who release muskies should handle and revive them carefully before letting them go.
"Even though they're a little cooler than usual, midsummer water temperatures are still relatively high, and warm water contains less dissolved oxygen," he explained.
"Muskies expend a lot of energy during a fight, and higher temperatures can cause them a lot of stress. So I'd encourage anglers to revive their fish very carefully, and make sure the fish can swim strongly before letting them go."
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.