Anglers will have to forego harvest of tiger muskies April 19 - May 23 at Spokane County's Newman Lake where a new research study is under way to learn more about the fish's movement and habitat use.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists will surgically implant ultrasonic telemetry transmitters in 15 adult tiger muskies the week of April 19. The fish will be anesthetized for the implant procedure with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved chemical, but they cannot be consumed by humans for at least 21 days after treatment.
Once fish retention resumes, anglers will be asked to participate in the study by carefully releasing any tiger muskie bearing a fluorescent orange mark identifying it as having been implanted with a transmitter.
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 pike minnow, tench and suckers.
Often reaching weights of over 20 pounds, tiger muskies also provide a "trophy" fishery. When fish retention is allowed, retained tiger muskies must be at least 36 inches long.
The implanted transmitters will allow scientists to track tiger muskie habitat use, movement and behavior on a weekly basis over the next three years, said Randall Osborne, a WDFW fish biologist. The information will be used to determine future stocking rates and management of the fishery, as well as providing useful information for anglers targeting tiger muskies.
The tiger muskies will be collected for the implant procedure with gill nets and electroshocking, which temporarily stuns fish so they can be picked up from the water's surface. Each will be brought to a shoreline handling area where it will be anesthetized before an incision is made in its belly to insert a ¾-inch transmitter into its body cavity. After the incision is stitched, the fish will be marked with a permanent fluorescent orange mark to alert anglers to release it if it is later caught. After recuperation in a holding tank, each fish will be released back to the section of the lake where it was collected.
After May 23 and throughout the remainder of the three-year study, existing regulations for fishing tiger muskies in Newman Lake will remain in effect.