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Tiger muskie

Tiger muskie


Cheek and gill cover scale pattern of the Northern Pike (entire cheek and upper half of the gill cover) and body markings of the musky. The sensory pores vary from 5 to 8 on a side, but usually have 5. The number of lateral line scales are intermediate between the parent species ranging from 129 to 141. Anal fin ray counts are the same as the musky, 16 to 19, but more than the Northern Pike. Dorsal fin rays number 18 to 21. The branchostegal rays vary from 17 to 18 -- the same as musky.


Tiger muskie Distribution

Stocked in 34 lakes statewide; tend to disperse widely after stocking.


Mostly fish as adults

State Record

27 pounds, 2 ounces - West Okoboji Lake, Dickinson County, August 1989 - Shannon Green from Spencer, Iowa

Expert Tip



The first Iowa muskellunge x northern pike hybridization was successfully conducted in 1965 at the Spirit Lake Hatchery. The resulting hybrids were placed into Center Lake, a small natural lake. At that time, little or no interest was shown by fishery managers to release this hybrid into other waters. By 1978 the tiger musky`s time had come as a "trophy class" fish species, and this exciting new fish was released into nine southern Iowa man-made recreational lakes. By 1983, the program was expanded to 27 lakes with a combined surface area of nearly 23,000 acres.

Like all members of the pike family, the Tiger Musky is carnivorous. The fry are confinement raised in the hatchery to fingerling size 6- to 8-inches on a prepared diet. The fish quickly convert to natural food organisms when released in the wild. 

Iowa hybrid musky start in the Spirit Lake Hatchery as a cross between the female northern pike and male muskellunge. This is the opposite of most crossings, but has proven to have the best timing schedule for Iowa production. Gravid female northerns are held over in the hatchery a few days until male musky start to ripen. The resulting offspring have hybrid vigor with growth rates exceeding either parent. Tiger Musky reach very large size. In 1919, on the boundary waters of Wisconsin and Michigan, a hybrid was caught that tipped the scales at 51 pounds, 3 ounces.

The hybrid musky program is the newest of the pike family introductions in Iowa. The number of lakes stocked with Tiger Musky has grown from 9 in 1978 to 34 in 1984, with over 800,000 total fish stocked. The program met with outstanding success at first, but dropped off in the 1990's. The Iowa DNR no longer regularly stocks Tiger Muskies.


Present in these Iowa water bodies: