Tiger musky (Esox)
Tiger muskellunge, commonly called tiger musky, are a hybrid of muskellunge and northern pike. As a hybrid they show many of the characteristics of both parent fish, including the long, tube-like body. Tiger musky have dark, mostly green vertical bars on a lighter background that give the fish a tiger-like appearance. In general, their fins are rounded like the northern pike with the dark stripes and spots of a muskellunge. The dorsal fins have 18 to 21 rays, while the anal fin has 16 to 19 rays. Round, bill-like mouths contain several rows of sharp teeth used to devour the tiger muskys prey.
Just as with both parent stocks, tiger musky are carnivorous. They are aggressive predators that will feed on whatever it can find in its environment with fish such as chubs, smelt and perch their top preferences. Like northern pike and true musky, they have been known to consume ducklings, goslings and even small mammals.
Tiger musky are fast swimmers and can attack and capture whatever prey it pursues. Its many sharp teeth are used to devour prey prior to swallowing.
Although some natural hybridization occurs within the native range of northern pike and true muskies, tiger musky exist almost exclusively in waters where they are stocked. These areas include, but are not limited to, the natural range of northern pike and muskellunge. There have been regular, though inconsistent stocking and introduction programs throughout the United States, particularly in the Northeast, Midwest and eastern Great Plains states.
Tiger musky have been stocked in scattered bodies of water in approximately 30 states, primarily in lakes. Generally, their range runs from the southeastern limit of the Great Lakes region west to Iowa, north along the Red River through western Minnesota into southern Canada. It is found in greatest numbers in the states of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Tiger musky habitat is clear, clean lakes that have shallow areas for feeding and deeper areas in which to retreat for cooler waters. Just as in the case with pike and muskellunge, tiger musky need weedy areas, stumps, and logs for cover and for feeding during the early morning and evening. They are less tolerant of warm water temperatures than the musky and they tend to be in deeper waters throughout the summer.
- Tiger musky are often stocked in lakes with heavier fishing pressure such as those near large cities.
- Tiger musky are known to attack hooked bass and panfish that are struggling on a line.