Interest in tiger muskies growing

  • Thursday, June 14, 2007 11:41am
  • Sports

For some reason, there’s a whole lot of interest in the state’s growing population of tiger muskies, the sterile cross between muskellunge and northern pike. More, in fact, than would seem logical even considering that these are big, tough, “exotic” game fish – tackle twisters with a decided attitude.

The interest is so high that a club devoted to the species has been started. The first gathering of state tiger muskie aficionados was a resounding success, signing up some 34 men and women with Northwest Muskies Inc., which has a goal of increasing a quality muskellunge sport fishery through education, conservation, and work with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Anglers came from as far away as Spokane to participate, meeting at the Federal Way Denny’s Restaurant, 2132 South 320th Way, across from the Sea-Tac Mall. The next meeting is at the same place on June 21, starting at 7 p.m.

State biologists Bruce Bolding and Steve Jackson from the agency’s Warmwater Program spoke on the current status of the muskie fishery and future challenges. Host Perry Peterson played a DVD on how to safely release a muskie – not a minor consideration, considering the mouthful of needle-sharp teeth involved.

Tiger muskies were first introduced to various Washington lakes both as a recreational resource and as an eco-friendly means to eliminate or minimize certain “trash fish” populations through predation.

Tiger muskies are now stocked in seven lakes across the state, and the Washington record keeps inching upward, currently at 31.25 pounds, caught by John Bays in Mayfield Lake, Lewis County, in September of 2001.

Mayfield will be the site of a muskie tournament on Sept. 15-16, headquartered at Lake Mayfield Marina and offering a first prize of $1,400. The event is limited to 30 boats. Go to for information or applications.

For more information on the club, e-mail Perry Peterson at

Important elk meet: If you have any interest in big-game hunting and/or treaty-rights issues, don’t forget the public meeting with state representatives at 6 p.m. on June 20 at the CottonTree Inn in Mount Vernon (2300 Market Street). Northbound on Riverside Drive through “new” Mount Vernon, the inn is on the left, just before crossing the Skagit River into Burlington.

State reps will explain a proposal to open Game Management Unit 418 this fall to a permit-only bull elk hunt on the Hamilton-area portion of the Nooksack herd. The proposal would allow a take of 15 bulls each by tribal and non-tribal hunters, from a population estimated by the agency as somewhere between 400 and 450 animals or better.

State big-game managers have stated they don’t believe the proposed hunt’s tacit agreement to a formal 50-50 quota split (not previously done), or approval of tribal hunting on private land (an issue of contention) will set a precedent to be followed by other tribes around the state on other herds.

Halibut: Officials of the Sekiu Halibut Derby weighed in some 30 fish for 107 anglers Saturday and Sunday, and handed out a check for $880 to the first-place winner, Jeremy Luffman of Shelton. Luffman boated a halibut of 871/2 pounds, followed by Paul Lorenzen of Brinnon at 81 pounds, and Albert Hulquist of Spokane at 69 pounds.

Donalynn Olson at Olson’s Resort, derby headquarters, said successful derby entrants found fish deeper than usual. The Pillar Point area was one of the better spots, she said.

Port Angeles-area anglers also found pretty good halibut fishing over the weekend. State checks at Ediz Hook tallied 163 fishermen with 34 fish.

A short halibut season reopening is scheduled for Marine Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), shoreward of 30 fathoms, on June 19 and 21, and in all portions of 3 and 4 on June 23.

Bubble kings: A little spurt of nice chinook taken in the Tulalip bubble last week raised hopes that tribal enhancement of “early” fish might be starting to provide fishing opportunities, but it apparently didn’t last. All Star Charters owner/skipper Gary Krein said the bubble was very slow over the weekend, although a dandy 30-pounder was taken Sunday morning.

State checks at the Port of Everett ramp showed 152 anglers contacted Saturday and Sunday, with just three chinook. Some of those boats, however, were probably after lings.

The bubble fishery normally peaks the second half of July, so slow fishing right now would not be unexpected.

Krein said the few fish being caught are mostly falling for a green squid or a Coyote spoon following a Hot Spot or Coyote flasher.

Krein will present a seminar at 7 p.m. today at the Lake Stevens Joe’s (formerly G.I. Joe’s) store, on how to fish popular Marine Area 9 for salmon this summer. Area 9 includes Possession Bar.

Other kings: There is good fishing in south Puget Sound now for chinook, with checks at Point Defiance Boathouse over the weekend showing 93 anglers with 26 kings.

On the Columbia below Bonneville Dam last week, 664 fishermen, boat and bank, were counted with one chinook for every 7.8 boat rods, and one for every 10.8 bank rods.

Fishing on the upper Skagit and the lower Cascade has been worth the drive, according to Bob Ferber at Holiday Market Sports in Burlington. A “decent” number of fish are being taken each day, Ferber said, around the mouth of the Cascade and in a handful of holes on downriver to Rockport. Try a K-14 Kwikfish with a sardine wrap.

Ferber said the state is monitoring this fishery pretty closely, so enter your fish on the card immediately, and watch other regulations carefully.

Lingcod: The Northsound lingcod season ends Friday, and it’s well worth trying to squeeze in one last trip. This has been a good fishery, and there are still lings to be had around any rocky structure in the San Juan Islands, using whole herring, rubber scampi, Storm or Calcutta swimbaits, and others. Checks at the Washington Park ramp west of Anacortes on Saturday showed 26 fishermen with nine lings and one halibut, while at the Cornet Bay ramp on Saturday and Sunday, 57 anglers had 21 lings.

Shrimp: One last shot at spot shrimp is coming up, as the southern portion of Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) opens for four days, June 20-23. This one is also worth a trip, since it includes the very productive Iceberg Point.

Crab cards: Apparently adoption of the new split-season harvest reporting plan for recreational crab fishermen has resulted in a not-unexpected bureaucratic snafu and not enough permanent crab catch reporting cards to go around. So crab managers are sending out temporary cards that will allow crabbers to be legal when seasons open, while the state finishes printing and distributing the permanent ones.

The split-season rule now requires crabbers to use a summer catch record card to report through Labor Day, and a separate card for fall and winter harvest, reported by mid-January. This is supposed to give crab managers more current and more accurate numbers with which to set – or not set – seasons and decide quotas.

Because the temps are not water-resistant, the agency is urging all recreationists to turn them in to a license vendor and get the permanent cards when available. If you do, be sure to transfer any information from one card to the other.

Recreational crabbing opens June 18 in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca and southern Puget Sound. Marine Area 6 opens June 27, Wednesdays through Saturdays. Most other marine areas open July 4 on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, although some waters north of Anacortes will not open until later in the summer.

Under the new system, sport crabbers must report their catch through Labor Day by Sept. 15.

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