The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is loath to introduce more nonnative species into Beaver State waters, but last night, agency biologists released 25,000 5-inch tiger muskies into Phillips Reservoir to eat as many of the 1.5 million perch there as possible.
We’ve covered the problems there in the past in Northwest Sportsman and online: The basic story is, the 1,500-acre Eastern Oregon lake was once a top-shelf trout fishery; some jackass of a bucket biologist introduced perch in the 1990s; the perch bred spectacularly; trout fishing and visitation dropped out of sight faster than a homemade anchor; in recent springs, ODFW began netting the perch and in 2011 stocked tiger trout to chew on more; and now they’ve introduced the pike-muskellunge hybrids.
The newest guys are basically eating machines, and though only 5 inches long at the moment, “they kind of believe that they’re three feet long,” fisheries biologist Tim Bailey told Jason Jacoby of the Baker City Herald in a good and lengthy article posted today.
Washington fishery managers also have used tiger muskie to control pikeminnow numbers at Curlew Lake and Lake Merwin, as well as for a unique angling opportunity elsewhere. Some have grown to over 50 inches.
For the moment, Oregon’s will be off limits to retention. Probably not all 25,000 will survive, and they will be supported by another stocking next year, according to the article
“It’s going to take awhile, but you gotta think big,” said a source at another state agency, who also noted that it was a “big deal” for generally conservative Oregon fishery managers to decide to use tigers in the first place.
Jacoby notes that ODFW got the batch for free from a federal hatchery in Wyoming.
Phillips Reservoir anglers must also release the tiger trout — brook-lake trout hybrids — introduced in 2011.