July 27, 2006

Tiger Muskies: Fun to Catch

An important tool for fisheries biologists and a fun fish to catch

What happens when you cross a northern pike with a muskellunge (musky)? You get a handy-dandy management tool called the tiger musky (named for their tiger-like stripes).

Tiger Musky
These tiger musky were only 3 in. when stocked
into Bullock Reservoir a year ago. (Photo by Ron Stewart)

The tiger musky is an important tool for Utah's fisheries biologists because a) it's a super predator and b) it's sterile. This makes it an ideal fish to use to help control populations of other fish.

In addition to being a super predator, managers like to use tiger musky because they can't reproduce. This allows biologists to control the number of these predators in the waters where they're placed.

Four years ago, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources planted tiger musky in Bullock Reservoir in northeastern Utah. This year another northeastern Utah water, Cottonwood Reservoir, also received tiger musky. The musky were introduced to these waters to help control populations of white sucker, bullhead and some other fish.

These super predators also have some other desirable characteristics: they grow quickly, can reach sizes around 30 pounds and are relatively easy to catch once you've learned a little about them and the gear needed to catch and land them properly.

These characteristics make tiger musky an ideal fish for anglers who are looking for something unusual.

The current state record for tiger musky is a 49-inch fish, weighing 33 pounds 10 ounces, taken from Pineview Reservoir in northern Utah in early July.

When DWR biologists surveyed Bullock Reservoir in June, they caught one-year-old tigers that were around 15 inches long. The DWR also received reports of a 38-inch fish (estimated to be around 15 pounds) that was caught and released at Bullock this spring. This fish had grown 35 inches from when it was stocked four years ago.

Anglers can find tiger musky in Pineview, Bullock and Cottonwood reservoirs, and in Johnson Reservoir in southwestern Utah. A catch and release regulation-one fish over 40 inches-is in place at all of these reservoirs to protect their small tiger musky populations. All other tigers must be released immediately.

Anglers can find catch and release tips for tiger musky on the DWR's Web site.