Tiger musky fishermen are without a doubt passionate about tiger muskie fishing. And, most of those anglers are already familiar with what tiger muskies are, and how to catch tiger musky. However, if you are new to the sport, you may be wondering exactly what is a tiger musky. We’ll explain below.
Tiger muskies are the non-reproductive, or sterile, hybrids of muskellunge and northern pike parent fish. Their distinctive “tiger” stripes, found on the sides of the fish, are what give them their tiger musky name.
While muskies and northern pikes are closely related, the hybrid tiger muskies only rarely occur in nature. A very interesting trait of all hybrid fish is what is called “hybrid vigor”. Hybrid vigor allows the fish be less prone to diseases, to grow up stronger, and best of all — they grow faster than the parent fish would grow. This is good for tiger musky fans, as northern pike and muskellunge are among the fastest growing fish in all of North America. A muskellunge can reach over 30″ in 5 years, while northern pike follow behind only slightly.
Tiger muskies feature another characteristic which a lot of other hybrid fish don’t, which is that they are sterile. You may first think of this as a bad trait to have. This means that fish hatcheries need to continuously supplement the tiger muskie stocks in the wild. The fact that tiger muskies are sterile allows fish biologists the opportunity to stock a large, predatory fish in various habitats and that they will not pose a threat of overpopulating. This fact also ensures that fishery managers can limit consumption or loss of other game fish in the lake by stocking only a certain number of tiger muskies. Biologists and scientists raise tiger musky in fish hatcheries, release them into the wild, where they can grow nice and big, then we hunt for them.
Hybrid vigor has another benefit, which is habitat tolerance. What this means is that lakes typically too warm for either one of the parent fish to survive are usually just fine for tiger muskies, up to a certain point. Although, tiger muskies do much better in cooler waters of reservoirs and lakes, just like the parent fish. Tiger muskies have been able to make their way to farther southern lakes, due to their ability to tolerate warmer lakes. In the early 1970s, the first tiger muskies were stocked in roughly 25 states in waters which might not otherwise be home home to big predatory fish.