Tiger muskie introduced into Harvey Gap

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SILT I Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocked tiger muskie — a large, powerful sportfish — into the reservoir at Harvey Gap State Park on May 16, providing West Slope anglers with a unique fishing opportunity.
Nearly 150 of the species — the sterile, hybrid offspring of northern pike and muskie — were released, and any angler up to the challenge can begin fishing for the elusive species immediately. Because the tiger muskie is sterile, all of its energy goes toward growth. Many fish exceed 30 pounds and some reach up to 50 inches in length.
Its large size and elusive nature will provide anglers with an attractive alternative to trout fishing in western Colorado.
“It’s certainly a test of angling skills to catch tiger muskie,” said senior aquatic biologist Sherman Hebein. “I expect numerous anglers will come to Harvey Gap to try and catch this amazing fish.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife first brought tiger muskie to Harvey Gap State Park in the late 1990s; however, the stocking effort failed. Most of those fish were less than 10 inches and biologists believe all were lost to predators. This latest attempt will introduce larger fish that can withstand pressure from the established northern pike population.
To protect the newly introduced species, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission passed an emergency regulation at a recent meeting prohibiting spear fishing, bow fishing and the use of gigs to take northern pike at Harvey Gap State Park. These methods of taking northern pike remain legal at other waters including nearby Rifle Gap State Park. In addition, Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations prohibit the possession of tiger muskie less than 36 inches in length.
“Tiger muskie can be easily confused with northern pike,” aquatic biologist Lori Martin said. “The new, emergency regulation, which is effective immediately, will help prevent someone accidentally shooting or gigging the wrong species without the option of returning the fish to the water alive.”
Limon High School students raised the fish as part of an aquaculture class, which receives funding from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other partners.
This introduction will remain an experiment to evaluate the potential for tiger muskies to survive and prosper in a western slope reservoir,” Hebein said. “We request the public’s assistance in our evaluation of this introduction.”