Anglers at Spokane County's Newman Lake will have to forego harvest of tiger muskies from April 11 through May 15, while research continues to learn more about the fish's movement and habitat use.
During the week of April 11, several adult tiger muskies will be anesthetized for implantation of special telemetry transmitters. Although a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved chemical is used for anesthesia, the fish cannot be consumed by humans for at least 21 days after treatment.
Once fish retention resumes, anglers will be asked to assist with the study by carefully releasing any tiger muskie bearing a fluorescent orange mark on its anal fin, identifying it as having been implanted with a transmitter. Signs posted at WDFW's Newman Lake access site describe the marked fish and remind anglers to release the fish.
After May 15, existing regulations for tiger muskies in Newman Lake will remain in effect for unmarked fish. When retention is allowed, anglers may keep one fish per day, and retained tiger muskies must be at least 36 inches long.
WDFW biologists initiated the tiger muskie study last spring and will continue to track fish equipped with transmitters through the summer of 2007, to learn more about tiger muskie habitat use, movement and behavior. Information collected from the study will be used to refine future stocking rates and management of the fishery. The study is also expected to provide useful information for anglers targeting tiger muskies.
Each fish collected for the implant procedure is anesthetized before an incision is made to implant the transmitter. Once the incision is stitched, the fish is given a fluorescent orange mark to alert anglers to release it if caught. After recuperation in a holding tank, each marked fish is released back to the section of the lake where it was collected.
A cross between northern pike and muskellunge, sterile tiger muskies have been introduced to Newman Lake and a handful of other state waters to control over-populations of fish such as pikeminnow, tench, and suckers.
Often reaching weights of over 20 pounds, tiger muskies also provide an angling opportunity for "trophy"-size fish.