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By JENNY GESSAMAN

Reporter

It’s been a little over two

years since Montana Fish,

Wildlife and Parks introduced

tiger muskie into Central

Montana’s Ackley Lake. While

it’s too soon to tell if the fish

are an effective management

tool against sucker fish, FWP

Fisheries Biologist Clint Smith

did report the species is

settling in nicely.

The state agency sampled

the lake with a gill net last

September. One sampling

can’t show trends, but it can

provide some information.

“We got four tiger muskie

in the net, which averaged

about 26 inches and right

around four pounds,” Smith

said. “They’re growing well.”

Smith was happy with the

numbers.

“They’re doing better than

I anticipated,” he said. “We

don’t have a lot of reservoirs

to compare them to. There’s

one up on the Rocky Mountain

front. Our tiger muskie seem

to be doing similarly to those

fish, and they were introduced

at the same time.”

Smith has also heard

reports of people catching the

hybrid fish regularly last

summer and spring, a trend

that died down in winter. The

year’s end did bring a good bit

of news, though.

FWP introduced the non-

breeding tiger muskie to hunt

down and control the lake’s

sucker fish population, all in

hopes of freeing up resources

for game fish such as the

rainbow trout.

“Reports this winter have

been pretty positive for Ackley

as far as ice fishing for

rainbows,” Smith said.

Smith was cautious against

labeling last winter’s reports

and last fall’s sampling as

successes, however.

“It’s a little early to make

any judgment as far as how

we’ve done,” he said. “When

we first proposed [tiger

muskie], we said it would be a

three to five year window

before we would anticipate

impacts to the fishery. We’re

in year two right now.”

Instead, Smith kept the

lake’s last sampling in broader

terms.

“Our catch rate of suckers

in 2016 was the lowest catch

rate we’ve had since 2010,” he

said. “We can’t necessarily say,

‘Aha, that’s tiger muskie.’ We

can say the catch rates are in a

downward trend currently,

but that that can change from

year to year.”

saturday, april 1, 2017

page 5

Central Montana Fishing Guide

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Tackle & Bait

Ackley’s tiger muskie show growth as they turn 2

Fish must be released until they reach 40

inches

This tiger muskie was caught last summer on Ackley

Lake. Anglers are reminded that muskie must be

released until they reach 40 inches.

Photo by Jacques Rutten

Send us your

fishing photos!

editor@ lewistownnews.com