Written by Industry Expert, David Beasley, Lead Fisheries Biologist
A unique aspect of lakes and ponds is the mystery of what is lurking beneath the water’s surface. This level of uncertainty feeds a curiosity and excitement, motivating anglers to spend time on the water. Unfortunately, for the average angler, life is simply too busy to fine tune fishing skills and successfully catch big fish on a regular basis.
In an attempt to enhance the mystery and excitement of the fishing experience, and to increase the frequency at which big fish are caught, SOLitude has introduced 560 tiger muskies into ten ponds throughout the mid-Atlantic region over the last 18 months. Tiger muskies are a cross between a muskellunge and a northern pike and are a unique fish in that they are produced in fish hatcheries and rarely occur naturally in the wild. Although both of their parent species are known for their thriving populations in the northern cool water environments, tiger muskies’ hybrid vigor allows them to tolerate warmer water, and as a result they can inhabit regions further south.
Although tiger muskies are not commonly found in ponds throughout the mid-Atlantic region, these fish should have what it takes to do well in this environment. The fall, winter and spring water temperatures are ideal and should provide the needed strength and energy to withstand the hot summer months.
Tiger muskies, along with one of their parents, the muskellunge, both have a reputation of being the “fish of ten-thousand casts.” Generally speaking, muskies can be very difficult to catch since their populations are naturally low, but one of the benefits to smaller waterbodies is the ability to successfully manipulate the fish population to support higher numbers of fish than a waterbody naturally could. This is done by encouraging the base of the food chain to thrive while ensuring that all aspects of the habitat are suitable for the fish species present.
Most of the 560 muskies we stocked were tagged to help track growth along with survival rates over the years. By collecting this information we are able to establish a scientific data set that can be used in the future to help biologists better manage small impoundments for these unique pond fish. After a year and a half of growth, the tiger muskies are showing great promise as they continue to grow at a respectable rate. Although we are unable to determine survival rates at this time, it is clear that the fish are growing. In the last 18 months, they have grown on average 11.5 inches and 2.4 pounds, meaning our now two year old tiger muskies are averaging 22 inches in length and 2.6 pounds.
With the quick growth experienced to date, these fish are on track to reach large sizes and bring an elevated level of mystery and excitement to small impoundments in this region. Although they are capable of reaching over four feet in length, these muskies will likely be 10 years old before they reach that size. Due to the amount of time it takes to grow big tiger muskies, it takes a level of foresight and patience to create a trophy fishery of a lifetime. In many situations, it is an important goal for landowners to have good fishing in their lakes and ponds, but they don’t often focus on fundamental fisheries improvements like enhancing water quality, establishing fish cover, maximizing productivity and perfecting predator-to-prey ratios. Due to the time it takes for fish to grow, it is wise to plan ahead and start making fishery management improvements years before you can achieve great fishing success.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.
Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Lake, pond and fisheries management services, consulting, and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.