Tiger muskellunge

Last updated

Tiger muskellunge
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Esociformes
Family: Esocidae
Genus: Esox
Species:
Tiger muskellunge caught at Tioga-Hammond/Cowanesque lakes in Pennsylvania in the United States in June 2013 Tiger Muskellunge - Tioga-Hammond and Cowanesque Lakes - Pennsylvania - 2013-06-03.jpg
Tiger muskellunge caught at Tioga-Hammond/Cowanesque lakes in Pennsylvania in the United States in June 2013

The tiger muskellunge (Esox masquinongy × lucius or Esox lucius × masquinongy), commonly called tiger muskie, is a carnivorous fish, and is the usually-sterile, hybrid offspring of the true muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) and the northern pike (Esox lucius). It lives in fresh water and its range extends to Canada, the Northeast, and the Midwest United States. It grows quickly; in one study, tiger muskie grew 1.5 times as fast as muskellunge. [1] Like other hybrid species, tiger muskie are said to have "hybrid vigor," meaning they grow faster and stronger than the parent fish, and are also less susceptible to disease. Trophy specimens weigh about 14 kg (30 lb). Its main diet is fish and small birds. The tiger muskie and the muskie are called the fish of 10,000 casts due to the challenge involved in catching them. [2]

Contents

Distribution

The tiger muskie lives in the lakes and quiet rivers in Canada, the Great Lakes, the Upper Mississippi Valley, and the Ohio and St. Lawrence Rivers. It is found the most in Michigan. It is rarely found far from its natural waters except for stocked fish. Several states, including Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Washington, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming stock tiger muskies. Each tiger muskie tends to inhabit the same areas of its lake from year to year. It tends toward shallower waters (2–3 m (6–9 ft) deep) and travels half as much in the summer and fall as it does in the winter to spring, when it prefers deeper waters (5–9 m (15–30 ft) deep). [3]

Characteristics

The tiger muskie is the result of the true muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) and the northern pike (Esox lucius) interbreeding. The tiger muskie has some of the characteristics of both fish. Tiger muskie, like pike and muskellunge, have long, cylindrical-shaped bodies. Their dorsal and ventral fins are located far back near the tail and are lobe-shaped. The caudal fins of the tail are more rounded than those of true muskies. They have skinny and compressed heads and the bottom jaw is elongated with an upward curve, known as a duckbill-shape. Its pattern is varying amounts of color with vertical dark stripes and spots on a light background, the opposite color scheme of a northern pike. The tiger muskie has 5 or 6 chin pores per side on the lower jaw.

Diet

The tiger muskie feeds as the northern pike and muskellunge do, by waiting near weeds and ambushing its prey. They have food preferences similar to those of the true muskie and northern pike as well. They seem to prefer larger fish during the summer and fall months in preparation for the winter months. During the winter and spring months they prey on smaller easier targets due to their slow metabolism. Its varied diet includes yellow perch, suckers, golden shiners, walleye, smallmouth bass, and various other types of fish. When fish are not readily available tiger muskies will feed on crayfish, frogs, ducklings, muskrats, mice, other small mammals, and small birds.

Growth and survival

Tigermuskielw.png

State-record tiger muskie catches are recorded as 4.5 kg (10 lb) depending on the state, with northern states yielding larger specimens. [4]

Because tiger muskies are bred for stocking purposes, studies have been made of its growth rate and the factors that affect it. The growth rate of juveniles depends on the water temperature and the type of feed. In studies, the tiger muskie has had the highest growth, production, and food conversion efficiency at temperatures of 20–24 °C (68–75 °F). Below these temperatures, growth rates slow and above them cannibalism increases. [5]

Several studies have examined the effect of stocking size on survival of stocked tiger muskellunge. This information helps those involved in wildlife management to make cost-effective decisions about breeding and stocking programs. Larger size at stocking has been correlated with higher survival rates and the effect is large enough that it is usually cost-effective to stock larger juveniles (180 – 205 mm) [6]

As tiger muskies grow longer, they increase in weight. The nonlinear relationship between total length (L, in inches) and total weight (W, in pounds) for nearly all species of fish can be expressed by an equation of the form:

Invariably, b is close to 3.0 for all species, and c is a constant that varies among species. A relationship based on 27 populations of tiger muskie from 9 states was used to develop a specific equation for tiger muskie and computed that c = 0.00008035 and b = 3.337. [7] This relationship predicts that a 84 cm (33 in) tiger muskie will weigh about 4.5 kg (10 lb) , and a 120 cm (47 in) tiger muskie will weigh about 14 kg (30 lb).

Reproduction

Cross-breeding of the true muskellunge and the northern pike occurs naturally in the wild where both parent species occur. The tiger muskie is sterile, which is not unusual for a hybrid fish. Breeders prefer to breed male northern pike and female muskellunge, because the eggs are less adhesive and have less tendency to clump when hatching. [8] While some tiger muskie occur naturally most are bred in hatcheries. Tiger muskie usually grow more quickly than the pure-strain muskie and northern pike in the first several years. They can also endure high temperatures better than the parent fish and they grow more quickly reaching legal size sooner, making them more useful in stocking. [9]

Angling

The tiger muskie was caught frequently in the past by anglers who did not know and did not care what they were catching, as long as the fish tasted good. Now, the tiger muskie is stocked regularly in some lakes, and people go to great lengths to obtain a tiger muskie, but it is not an easy fish to catch. Some people say that it takes 10,000 casts to catch one. [10] The current world record tiger muskie was caught by John Knobla on Lac Vieux Desert.

A tiger muskie in preparation to be measured (26.5 inches). Released. Tiger Muskie, Lake Saint Clair.jpg
A tiger muskie in preparation to be measured (26.5 inches). Released.

Sport

The tiger muskie is renowned as a sport fish because it can reach sizes over 130 cm (50 in) long. They can be caught in lakes and reservoirs in locations with plenty of forage. Being large, powerful fish, they can be difficult to manage. The best way to catch a tiger muskie is to get the fish to the side of the boat as quickly as possible so the fish does not become exhausted; this is especially important during the summer months. Using a large landing net, scoop the fish onto the boat making sure it does not flop around too much; fish often hurt themselves by thrashing wildly in boats. Quickly grip over the top of the gill plates, but be careful of the gills because they can tear easily and are very sharp. Make sure to use pliers when removing the hook because tiger muskies have many sharp teeth.

Like many other predatory fish, muskies like to hide in the edge of weed beds so they can ambush prey. They can also be found in areas where they have quick access to open parts of the lake. Unlike other fish muskies seem to feed when the weather and atmospheric pressure stay consistent, rain or shine. Catching tiger muskie is usually done by trolling at speeds between 4 and 6 miles per hour, but they have been caught trolling faster and slower.

Contrary to popular folklore, muskie will hit at any size fishing lure: the lure does not have to be huge. The lure size should vary depending on the amount of weeds in the area or at the depth you wish to fish. In open water, larger lures such as Jointed Rapalas, Loke Lures, Ziggy Lures, Willy Lures, Wiley Lures, Large Mepps Bucktails, Muskie Plugs, large spinner baits or long shallow running Rapalas can be effective. Usually, Fire-Tiger and Perch-color work best during the day time and red lures work better in the evening.

When fishing in weeds it is better to use smaller lures. 10 to 13 cm (4 to 5 in) Original Floating Rapalas, or Thundersticks work very well. Smaller Jointed Rapalas and smaller spinner baits are effective too. [11]

Related Research Articles

American pickerel species of American pickerel

The American pickerels are two subspecies of Esox americanus, a species of freshwater fish in the pike family of order Esociformes: the redfin pickerel, E. americanus americanus Gmelin, 1789, and the grass pickerel, E. americanus vermiculatus Lesueur, 1846.

Muskellunge species of fish

The muskellunge(Esox masquinongy), also known as muskelunge, muscallonge, milliganong, or maskinonge, is a species of large, relatively uncommon freshwater fish native to North America. It is the largest member of the pike family, Esocidae. The common name comes from the Ojibwa word maashkinoozhe, meaning "ugly pike", by way of French masque allongé, "elongated face." The French common name is masquinongé or maskinongé.

Esociformes order of fishes

The Esociformes are a small order of ray-finned fish, with two families, the Umbridae (mudminnows) and the Esocidae (pikes). The pikes of genus Esox give the order its name. The 10 species are found as five in each family.

Northern pike species of fish

The northern pike is a species of carnivorous fish of the genus Esox. They are typical of brackish and fresh waters of the Northern Hemisphere. They are known simply as a pike in Britain, Ireland, and most of Canada and the United States.

<i>Esox</i> genus of fishes

Esox is a genus of freshwater fish, the only living genus in the family Esocidae—the esocids which were endemic to North America and Eurasia during the Paleogene through present.

Lehigh River river located in eastern Pennsylvania, in the United States

The Lehigh River, a tributary of the Delaware River, is a 109-mile-long (175 km) river located in eastern Pennsylvania, in the United States. Part of the Lehigh, along with a number of its tributaries, is designated a Pennsylvania Scenic River by the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "Lehigh" is an Anglicization of the Lenape name for the river, Lechewuekink, meaning "where there are forks".

The chain pickerel is a species of freshwater fish in the pike family of order Esociformes. The chain pickerel and the American pickerel belong to the Esox genus of pike.

Pete Maina American fisher

Pete Maina is an author, professional muskellunge (muskie) angler, professional photographer, TV show host, professional speaker and former magazine owner. Maina's specialty is muskie fishing, and has advocated for conservation of the muskie species. Maina resides in Hayward, Wisconsin.

Lauri Rapala was a Finnish fisherman, inventor and the founder of Rapala-Normark Group, the world's largest fishing lure and tackle producer. He died in 1974 at the age of 69. During the course of his life, he married once and fathered seven children. He created one of the first artificial fishing lures in 1936, which later became known as the Original Floater, a lure for which he would be made somewhat noted.

Original Floater

The Original Floater is a wobbler type of fishing lure, manufactured by Rapala. It is the first lure created by founder Lauri Rapala, in Finland in 1936. It was made of cork, and wrapped in tinfoil from cheese and chocolate, and covered in melted film negatives as a cheap alternative to lacquer.

Fish stocking

Fish stocking is the practice of raising fish in a hatchery and releasing them into a river, lake, or ocean to supplement existing populations or to create a population where none exists. Stocking may be done for the benefit of commercial, recreational, or tribal fishing, but may also be done to restore or increase a population of threatened or endangered fish in a body of water closed to fishing.

Curlew Lake (Washington) lake in United States of America

Curlew Lake is a 921-acre (3.73 km2) lake located in the glacier-carved Curlew Valley northeast of Republic, Washington. The spring- and stream-fed lake is named for the long-billed curlew, Numenius americanus, that once frequented the area. The 7-mile-long (11 km) lake reaches a maximum of ​13 miles wide and includes four small islands.

Potato Lake is a lake located in the northwestern part of Wisconsin. It is in the far southwestern corner of Rusk County, approximately 12 miles east of Chetek, Wisconsin. Potato Lake is one of Rusk County's 88 named lakes, and can be accessed by a ramped public boat landing. It is a drainage lake that is connected to McDermott Creek and Potato Creek. Potato Creek eventually flows into the Chippewa River.

The figure eight is a technique used by anglers to fish specifically for the muskellunge. It has been developed due to the nature of the fish's hunting style. Essentially, the figure eight is a final enticement performed by the angler just before lifting the lure out of the water for another cast. To help visualize the concept, think of a roller coaster. As the lure is moved from side to side, it also moves up and down.

Esocid lymphosarcoma, also known as Esox lymphosarcoma is a transmissible tumor which affects two species of fish, northern pike and Muskellunge, in North America and Europe. The tumors initially are found in the skin, but later in the course of the disease are also found in the internal organs. The tumors appear as colorless skin protrusions which are several centimeters in diameter. A retrovirus has been detected in affected cells by electron microscopy. The disease is spread by physical contact between fish, probably during the spring spawning season. The disease has the lowest prevalence in the summer.

Fox Lake (Wisconsin)

Fox Lake is a 2,713 acre lake in Dodge County, Wisconsin. The City of Fox Lake, and the communities of Lyndon Dale and Delbern Acres are found along the shoreline. There are two boat landings that are open to the public, found in parks on the northwest and southeast sides of the lake. Fish present in the lake are Panfish, Muskellunge, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Walleye. Fox Lake is split by the peninsula, that the community of Lyndon Dale is located on, in the south end of the lake. This forms a bay known as The Jug, near the City of Fox Lake. According to the DNR, the bottom of the lake is 1% sand, 30% gravel, and 69% muck. The lake goes through the Fox Lake Dam, into Mill Creek, then flows to Beaver Dam Lake.

Wray Fish Hatchery

The Wray Fish Hatchery is a Colorado Parks and Wildlife warm and cold water fish production facility located near Chief Creek and Stalker Lake in Yuma County.

Fishing in Colorado has brought in a large amount of revenue for the state. In 2019 Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimated outdoor recreation contributed roughly 62 billion dollars to the state economy. Fishing was reported to be the 5th most popular outdoor activity and 110, 511 fishing and hunting combination licenses were sold. Ice fishing makes up part of this total fishing revenue and is a common annual sport for Colorado residents and out-of-state visitors. There is no legal definition of ice fishing season. Rather, people begin to ice fish once the lakes freeze over with thick enough ice. Colorado Parks and Wildlife also recommend that people always ice-fish with another person. Typically, this starts in December and ends in April for Colorado. Lakes size, depth, elevation, and seasonal weather can cause variance to the season. Once the lakes freeze over with thick enough ice, anglers go out onto the ice, drill holes through the ice, and fish for a variety of species.

References

  1. Brecka BJ, Hooe ML, Wahl DH. Comparison of Growth, Survival, and Body Composition of Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge Fed Four Commercial Diets The Progressive Fish Culturist 1995; 57: 37-43
  2. Sandell, George. Half a Million Muskie-Catching Fishing Facts. 1994. Published by Echo Printing Co., p. 21 ISBN   0-940107-07-4
  3. Tipping JM. Movement of Tiger Muskellunge in Mayfield Reservoir, Washington North American journal of Fisheries Management 2001; 21: 683-687
  4. [2] Sandell, George. Half a Million Muskie-Catching Fishing Facts. 1994. Published by Echo Printing Co., p. 23 ISBN   0-940107-07-4
  5. Meade JS, Krise WF, Ort TO. Effect of temperature on production of tiger muskellunge in intensive culture. 1983, Aquaculture 32(1-2):157-164; Soderberg RW. Flowing Water Fish Culture. CRC Press, 1995, pp. 11-12 ISBN   1-56670-081-7
  6. Wahl DH, Stein RA. Comparative Population Characteristics of Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), Northern Pike (Esox lucius) and their hybrid (E. masquinongy x lucius); Szendrey TA, Wahl DH. Size Specific Survival and growth of Stocked Muskellunge: Effects of Predation and Prey Availability North American journal of Fisheries Management 1996; 16: 395-402 ; Wahl DH. An Ecological Context for Evaluating the Factors Influencing Muskellunge Stocking Success North American journal of Fisheries Management 1999; 19:238-248
  7. Rogers KB, Koupal KD. Standard weight equation for tiger muskellunge (Esox lucius x Esox masquinongy). Journal of Freshwater Ecology, La Crosse, WI 12(2):321-327, 1997
  8. Schultz, Ken, Essentials of Fishing. 2010. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN   978-0-470-44431-3
  9. Muskellunge biology and identification. 2014. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
  10. Sandell, George. Half a Million Muskie-Catching Fishing Facts. 1994. Published by Echo Printing Co., pp. 21-27 ISBN   0-940107-07-4
  11. How to catch muskie. Fin&Feather Resort.

[1]

  1. "Maryland Fish Facts: Tiger Muskie". dnr.maryland.gov. Maryland DNR. Retrieved 2 December 2014.