David Hickman of Richland, Washington holds his 37-pound, 14-ounce (pending) Washington state record tiger musky he landed on Curlew Lake on July 25, 2014. The fish measured 50.375 inches long by 23.75 inches in girth. The fish was weighed on the certified scale at Anderson’s Grocery in Republic.
It easily exceeds the current state tiger musky record of 31.25 pounds caught in Western Washington’s Mayfield Lake on Sept. 22, 2001.
“The paperwork still needs two more signatures to make it official, but I think it’s safe to say that it will be the new state record,” Kent Mayer, a warmwater fisheries program biologist in Spokane, said Tuesday.
The tiger musky is a cross between two formidable predators — eggs produced by female muskellunge are fertilized in hatcheries with the milt of male northern pike. The resulting hybrid “tiger muskies” are sterile, enabling fish managers to stock them in small numbers as a trophy fishery without worry that they will reproduce out of control and gobble up other fisheries.
It’s illegal in Washington to catch and keep a tiger musky under 50 inches long. Anglers must know how to distinguish tiger muskies from northern pike, which are considered an invasive species in Washington.
Northern pike display horizontal rows of light-colored round to oval spots on a dark background.
Tiger muskies display irregular shaped dark colored vertical markings on a light background. Sides sometimes have alternating patterns of bars and spots on a light background but patterns NEVER resemble the spots of a northern pike.
Tiger musky anglers are a patient lot. Hickman, who says he’s pursued tiger muskies for years, said he’s used to making many casts for the occasional payoff. During the recent family vacation at the Ferry County lake, he said he’d landed and released only one other tiger musky — a 36-incher — and lost a second lunker perhaps in the 50-inch range at the boat.
His third tiger musky of the trip, the pending record, struck his white spinner bait on the ninth and final day of the vacation.
Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fisheries biologist in Pasco, said he measured Hickman’s tiger musky at 11 a.m. on July 28 after the fish had been kept on ice in the livewell of the angler’s boat all weekend.
Three days after being caught, the fish measured 38 pounds even on the agency’s unofficial scale, Hoffarth said.
The fish was reared at the Meseberg Hatchery in Franklin County near Ringold prior to release as a juvenile into Curlew Lake, said John Whalen, regional fisheries manager in Spokane.
Tiger muskies have been stocked for trophy fisheries in about 10 Idaho lakes and seven in Washington, including Silver, Newman and Curlew. Idaho’s state record tiger musky, 44.26 pounds, was caught Aug. 6, 2013, by Edward Kalinowski of New Meadows in Little Payette Lake. See the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife tips for catching tiger muskies here @ http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/Species/1207/