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Tiger muskies find home at Joe's Valley

DWR regional director for the southeast, Bill Bates places the small tiger muskies into Joe's Valley along the edge of the lake.
The DWR places the 3-inch tiger muskies in Joe's Valley.

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

It was an exciting day at Joe's Valley reservoir on July 1. The long awaited release of tiger muskie into the reservoir became a reality on this day as Division of Wildlife Resources personnel released 720 3-inch tiger muskies into Joes Valley Reservoir.

If their growth rate proves similar to those planted in Pine View Reservoir near Ogden, these fingerling muskies could be as long as 40-inches in four years time.

The tiger muskie is a sterile hybrid--a cross between a northern pike and muskellunge. Both parent species are torpedo-shaped predatory fish with an alligator-like mouth.

The tiger muskie is an aggressive fighter, something that fishermen find desirable. The fish has excellent table qualities as well. Even more important is the species' piscivorous diet. These tigers will help control the chub population in the reservoir.

Tiger muskies will be placed in six waters in Utah. Four of these placements took place the same day atsJoe's Valley. This is the first time tiger muskies have been stocked in Utah since 2005.

All totaled the DWR biologists will stock between 8,000 and 9,000 tiger muskies from Nebraska into six waters in the state.

The Newton Reservoir in Cache County will receive muskies along with Pineview Reservoir in Weber County. In Northeastern Utah, the Bullock Reservoir and Cottonwood Reservoir in Uintah County and Johnson Reservoir in Sevier County.

The DWR biologists used boats to stock tiger muskies. The DWR introduced tiger muskies into Utah in 1988. The DWR stopped stocking tigers in 2005 because of aquatic disease problems in the Midwest. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission now has disease-free tiger muskies they can supply to Utah. The DWR will put the tiger muskies in five waters that currently have muskies. Joe's Valley reservoir hasn't had muskies before, but the biologists think the tiger muskie will do well in the reservoir.

The DWR isn't worried that the Utah chub will compete for food. The chub diet is primarily plankton and insects. They may eat very small (less than an inch) fish, but not the 3-inch size tiger muskies that were stocked. As far as reproductive status, tiger muskies are sterile hybrids. The fact that they will never reproduce is a benefit to fisheries managers.

For one, tiger muskie numbers can be controlled. Secondly, all of their body's energy focuses on growth rather than development of reproductive products.

The 3-inch tiger muskies recently planted are expected to be around 15-18 inches by late next summer. Although anglers will start picking them up at that time, the Division intends to tightly regulate their harvest, enabling them to fulfill their role as chub predators in Joe's Valley.

Beginning next year, regulations will be implemented, limiting the harvest to only one muskie, and, and it must be more than 40 inches. Paul Birdsey from DWR believes the tiger muskies will reach this size within four years.




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