If you’re looking for the fish that will almost certainly avoid your line and will drive you insane, then the tiger muskie is the perfect creature for you. It’s extremely rare that you’ll even find a tiger muskie, let along receive a follow from one. In terms of catching one, you’re going to have to be extremely lucky as there are very few who can regularly bring one in.
This struggle can be attributed to almost every identifying feature of this elusive species.
For starters, this is a hybrid species of fish, so their habitat tends to revolve around the crossing point of two other habitats. Because of this, you’re working with limited space and won’t necessarily have an easy time of even coming across the habitat of the tiger muskie. The parent fish that create a tiger muskie are the true muskellunge and a northern pike.
Once you know where those two species tend to live, you can identify the waters where a tiger muskie will most likely be found. After that, you’ll have to know what the tiger muskie is likely to be attracted to in terms of bait. They are a carnivorous species of fish, so be sure to bring along meat. Many of them are picky and won’t go after any food they aren’t used to. By knowing what the tiger muskie’s favorite food is, you can have a leg up on the competition already.
Though this freshwater fish is quite difficult to catch, for many anglers, even the hunt is well worth it. Even simply seeing a tiger muskie is well worth all of the effort as they are a stunning fish. Getting one to follow your line is an achievement in itself as they remain hesitant to even tred near boats and lines. They are a smart fish so bringing one in will require plenty of smarts from you as well. Here are a few bits of information about the tiger muskie that could prove quite useful to even seeing one.
How to Identify the Tiger Muskie
One of the biggest mistakes made by tiger muskie hunters is the confusion between them and the northern pike. As the tiger muskie is an offspring of the pike, it makes sense that they look quite similar and therefore, mistaking the two species is bound to happen. However, there are a few key differences between the two fish that will help you to identify them quicker. By knowing the key features of a tiger muskie, you’ll be able to identify the fish in seconds and avoid confusion.
The most obvious difference between a tiger muskie and a norther pike is the pattern and coloring of the scales. The reason why this fish is called a tiger muskie is because of the tiger-stripe pattern that adorns its scales. You’ll find stripes or dots of black on a pale green and white background, echoing the look of a tiger or a zebra. Norther pikes have a darker complexion and feature green designs on a black background.
The second most identifiable difference between the tiger muskie and the northern pike is the design of the tails. On the tiger muskie, the tail is more forked and pointed on the end with identifiable black dots. For the northern pike, the tail is more rounded and less jagged. Their tails feature thin stripes that fade into a light green coloring. Though the difference between the tails is subtle, once you’ve got the fish close by, you’ll easily spot the difference.
The final difference visually between the two species is much smaller and more difficult to spot. At this point, you’ll have the fish in your net and you might be unable to see a difference between the scales or the tails and so you’ll have to turn to their lower jaw. For many, the differences are subtle, but this difference will be a surefire way to identify the species. On a tiger muskie, there are 6-9 pores on the lower jaw. The northern pike only has 4-5.
A Few Facts About the Tiger Muskie
Now that you’ve identified that the fish you’re seeing is indeed a tiger muskie, it’s important to have a little background about the species so that you’re better equipped to bring it in or at least get a follow. As we mentioned, they are the offspring of a northern pike and a true muskellunge which are both decently sized fish who occupy similar areas. They all put up a similar fight, but the tiger muskie is simply the least common of the three for fishers to encounter.
The reason why they are so rare to encounter is likely because of their inability to breed themselves. They are not a natural species and cannot reproduce themselves. A tiger muskie is infertile and therefore their existence relies on the above mentioned species of fish getting involved and reproducing them. If a species of fish doesn’t naturally reproduce itself, then it’s likely to be quite difficult to encounter in the wild.
As a purebred muskie is the largest species in its family, it makes sense that a tiger muskie can get up to some impressive lengths as well. The difference between a tiger muskie and a natural muskie in terms of size is the speed at which they grow. A tiger muskie actually grows about 1.5 times faster than the purebred muskie. However, the maximum length the two can reach is greater for the pure muskie than it is for the tiger.
Where to Find the Tiger Muskie
So where is a tiger muskie’s natural habitat? Where do they breed, reproduce, and feed? Do they have any migration routes? Where are you most likely to find a tiger muskie? Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to answer as they are simply not a naturally born species of fish. They don’t have a breeding ground where you’re likely to encounter a school of young tiger muskies. They don’t reproduce so tiger muskie nests aren’t likely to be encountered.
Your best bet to locating a tiger muskie to make note of their purebred family members. More often than not, a tiger muskie will be located near or in the same spots that a pure muskie will be found. So, when you start your hunt for the tiger muskie, you’re essentially hunting for a pure muskie and hoping that luck is on your side. The muskie can be found in freshwater lakes and rivers in the North American midwest and northeast. They can live as far south as Kentucky and as far north as Canada.
The seasons also play a major part in locating the muskie as they tend to live in colder waters. More often than not, the larger fisheries of muskies will be located up north near Canada and throughout the northern USA. If you’re fishing in the southern states, your best bet would be to go out when the water is cooler. Otherwise, you might find that the muskie has already made its way up north and out of your reach.
Even westerners can get lucky with a tiger muskie spotting as there are some lakes that have been stocked with the species. Keep in mind that the difficulty of catching or even simply spotting them is still quite present. As we mentioned briefly, catching a tiger muskie is all about hunting for its purebred cousin and getting lucky. A follow might be all the gold you’ll pan in a week.
The Favorite Foods of the Tiger Muskie
If you’ve found the right waters and you’re sure that the fish you’re stalking is indeed a tiger muskie, it’s time to make sure that you’ve come stocked with all of the right food for the job. When searching through your pack, if you come across breads, corns, and any veggie baits, your luck might have just run dry. The tiger muskie is a carnivore and won’t even consider your bait as a possible food source. You need to bring meats, specifically fish.
It’s best to utilize live bait as these tend to provide a realism that’s not found in the dead counterparts. The tiger muskie is picky in the sense that it will only go after something it’s sure is meaty and fresh. As far as which fish it eats, there is absolutely no limit. The tiger muskie will even go after its own kind if it can get its jaws around it. So, when fishing for a tiger muskie, make sure you come prepared with plenty of live bait to get the job done.
Keep in mind that even if you do all of the research, find the perfect spot, bring the right bait, and have all the patience in the world, it still might not be enough. These are exceptionally rare fish that completely rely on the reproduction of two other species of fish. Be ready for a long day on the water with not even a sight of the fish.