PINEVIEW RESERVOIR — The fish population in Pineview Reservoir rose by 28,000 last week as a new round of tiger muskie stock were introduced to the area.
Members of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the volunteers with an area chapter of Muskies, Inc. met just before 9 a.m. Thursday, May 2, at the reservoir’s boat ramps to release the stock in the wild.
Each group were given tubs filled with about 1,600 fish each inside and were instructed to distribute them throughout the reservoir in habitat near shore where they’d thrive.
The new additions won’t make the reservoir too cramped, however. Though tiger muskies can grow well over 30 inches in length, the thousands of fry placed in the water were only 2 inches long. And tiger muskies also start to eat each other at that small size — another reason things won’t be crowded for too long.
“You put 100 fish in one location and they eat each other. That’s why it’s very tricky to raise tiger muskies,” said Cody Edwards, assistant aquatic program manger for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’s northern region. “You start to lose fish very fast at 2 inches, which is why we generally stock at 2 inches.”
Less than 10 percent of the fish released Thursday will make it to adulthood, Edwards said.
Tiger muskies are a non-native species that are a cross between a northern pike and muskellunge. They’re sterile fish and while the cross can occur in the wild, tiger muskies are usually raised at the DWR hatcheries.
This is the first year the state hatcheries have met their quota for raising tiger muskies, Edwards said, crediting the success of the stocking event to the hatchery staff.
“We were light on out stocking last year. We weren’t able to produce enough fish to accommodate our request of 20,000 and so that’s why we’re stocking more fish this year,” Edwards said.
Tiger muskies have been stocked in Pineview Reservoir since at least 1990s. The fish are introduced as a top-level predator to keep other fish species’s population in control and prevent big booms and busts in the ecosystem.
This year’s stock of muskies in one of the largest released at the reservoir in recent years. The tiger muskies in Pineview is doing “very well” despite slightly lower population numbers, Edwards said.
The exact number of tiger muskies in Pineview are unknown, but the DWR is in the process of generating a population study through a capture/recapture program.
Members of Chapter 65 of Muskies, Inc. are essential to the success of the study. When the anglers catch fully-grown muskies, they attach ID tags and release them back into the wild. If a fish with an ID tag is caught again, anglers can call a phone number on the tag and report it to the DWR.
The Northern Utah chapter of Muskies, Inc. started in 2016 and boasts about 80 members from states around the country. In addition to helping with stocking events and catching the fish, the chapter helps the DWR with other tasks like installing submerged habitat and cleaning up beaches once a month, said chapter president Kim Wagner, of Roy.
Wagner has been fishing tiger muskies for 15 years. The biggest muskie she’s caught has been 49 inches long.
“All other fish are just bait,” Wagner said. “Tiger muskies ... that’s the apex of all the fish you can find inland.
Edwards said the Muskies, Inc. chapter is full of “passionate, dedicated anglers.”
“A lot of the success of the state’s muskies program is a result of the hard work that these chapter members have been doing. They’re incredible,” he said.