CUSTER COUNTY, Colo. — During a gillnet survey Wednesday by Colorado Parks and Wildlife Southeastern Region an aquatic biologist caught a big one!
Carrie Tucker pulled in a 44-inch, 22-pound tiger muskie from the 300-acre lake in DeWeese Reservoir State Wildlife Area near Westcliffe.
According to CPW, a tiger muskie is a non-native fish, and one that is a hybrid, and plays a small albeit important role in the management of fisheries across Colorado.
A tiger muskie is a northern pike and Muskellunge (muskie) hybrid. It has irregular, dark-colored vertical markings on a light background and long snout. They differ from a northern pike in the fact that, since they are a hybrid, they are sterile and can’t reproduce. Northern pike, which too were once stocked in Colorado as a predatory fish and have also been illegally introduced into other bodies of water, have the capability to take over a fishery and dominant the trout population, which is the bread and butter species of sportfishing in Colorado.
This year, 15,000 tiger muskies will be stocked statewide into 29 different bodies of water. Those only go into sportfish reservoirs (never get stocked in rivers) to control white and longnose sucker populations. Those sucker species are native to the South Platte Basin, and their numbers can exponentially grow if left unchecked in stillwater reservoirs.
All of the stockings take place in the fall. Some of the better bodies of water in the vicinity of the Front Range where they are stocked also include Evergreen Reservoir, Antero Reservoir, Pinewood Reservoir and Big Creek along with Gross Reservoir.