Habits Of Tiger Muskies

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists have been spying on the habits of tiger muskie, the sterile hybrids of northern pike and muskellunge. What they learned can put you onto more fish.

Craig Springer

The behavior of both northern pike and muskies are fairly well known, but not so for their hybrid offspring. Biologists fitted 16 tiger muskies, up to three feet long, with radio tags and followed them for up to 34 months in Mayfield Reservoir.

This study showed that tiger muskie use different habitats in summer and fall versus winter and spring. And in warmer months, the fish are likely to move much less. In the summer and fall, individual tiger muskie stayed in an area of about 120 acres; in winter and spring, that increased to 340 acres. From year to year, the same fish occupied the same home range much like northern pike and muskies do.

In summer and fall, tiger muskie lurked in aquatic vegetation in five feet to eight feet of water. But in winter and spring, they moved off shore to open water, 16 feet to 32 feet deep.

Washington biologists fitted 16 tiger muskies with radio tags (pictured) and followed them for up to 34 months.

According the WDFW, tiger muskie in Mayfield Reservoir apparently do not interact with trout. In warm months they are up in the weeds away from trout, and in colder months when they go deep, their metabolism and desire to feed is much less.

Tiger muskies are an aggressive sport fish, and since they cannot become an uncontrollable predator on other gamefish, they could become more widespread and create more fishing opportunities in Washington.

When not penning stories about the outdoors, Craig works in communications for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He is an outdoors’ columnist for the Albuquerque Journal and ESPN Outdoors, and a frequent contributor to Flyfisher and North American Fisherman magazines. He holds degrees in fisheries and wildlife management from Hocking College and New Mexico State University, and an M.Sc. in fisheries science from the University of New Mexico. He’s a candidate for an M.A. in rhetoric and writing at the University of New Mexico. He writes weekly for sportsmansguide.com.

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