REPUBLIC -- Although they won't be keepers for a couple of years, fish that
promise angling excitement are being planted here this week.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will stock 870-acre
Curlew Lake in Ferry County with about 400 16-inch tiger muskies for the first time on
Curlew is the third lake in the state to receive the hybrid predatory fish to control
surplus populations of undesirable species and to provide new sport fisheries.
Tiger muskies first were introduced to Mayfield Lake in southwest Washington's
Lewis County in 1988 to rebuild a local coho salmon population by controlling the
squawfish that preyed upon them. Spokane County's Newman Lake received tiger
muskies in 1992 to control carp and stunted populations of perch and bluegill.
The Curlew Lake tiger muskies are expected to control squawfish. The idea was
proposed a few years ago, but the decision to stock was delayed when an
environmental impact review revealed that Curlew Lake is the last home of a species of
clam -- the California floater -- that is under review for possible listing as state
sensitive, threatened, or endangered. Further study showed that introduction of tiger
muskies would not significantly impact floaters, nor any other wildlife in the Curlew Lake
area, including reptiles, amphibians and waterfowl.
Tiger muskies, which are long, slender fish with vertical "tiger" stripes, are a
cross between two non-native predatory species: northern pike and muskellunge. As
hybrids they are sterile, and thus grow relatively fast. The 16-inchers should reach the
state's minimum size limit of 36 inches within three years. The state record tiger muskie
is 28.25 pounds from Mayfield Lake. World record tiger muskies, usually caught in the
Midwest where pike and muskie are native, have exceeded 50 pounds.
Washington's tiger muskies are raised at WDFW's Columbia Basin Fish
Hatchery in Moses Lake.
WDFW fish biologists will monitor the progress of the Curlew Lake tiger muskies
and determine if or when future plants should be made. Since tiger muskies don't
reproduce, periodic additions have been made to Mayfield and Newman lakes'
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: The WDFW Columbia Basin Fish Hatchery crew will
plant the tiger muskies from the public access area in Curlew Lake State Park
north of Republic at about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 22.