Many of us are fascinated with giant fish. Some pay thousands of dollars and travel hundreds of miles around the country to search out a trophy Northern Pike or Muskie we here in Colorado actually don't have to. While big northern pike are plentiful here in Colorado we don't have a muskie fishery. We have a fish called a Tiger Muskie. It is a sterile cross between a northern pike and a muskie which has vertical stripes like a tiger.
I have always been memorized by this fish and have chased it for years. I have caught a few here and there and lost some that keep me up at night just thinking about them. Some say the tiger muskie is the fish of ten thousand casts and if you have ever been out chasing them you know they are not an easy fish to catch. I have had many frustrating days on the water chasing tiger muskies and I have many friends who feel the same way. Just like me they still chase them whenever the opportunity arises knowing someday they will finally be successful in landing a trophy tiger muskie.
So an opportunity presented itself for me a couple of weeks ago. I had a great friend of mine tell me about a couple lakes down south that he and his father went to that had giant tiger muskie in them. I have heard of them before but have never taken the time to go out there. They made the trip last week and although they didn't land one they had a story that got my attention really quick. Tyler called me up and said that his father Andy had hooked into a giant tiger muskie and had it all the way up to the shore and he couldn't get his hands around it to land it before the teeth broke the line and the fish swam off....fish story, I thought, we all tell em. I said really how big was it. He said giant. No lie. I laughed and thought maybe? He is really excited about this. Later he called me up and said that he is coming back down from college next weekend to go back and he and his dad wanted me to go with them. OK. To drive down from Ft. Collins just to go back to a lake that is near Walsenberg to try and catch this giant muskie it must be true. I know Tyler. Now I am very interested.
I thought, I am going to bring my arsenal. I have certain boxes with giant baits in them specifically for pike and tiger muskie and I just picked up a new Victory Carbon swim bait rod from my good friends at Eagle Claw matched it up perfectly with a Johnny Morris Carbonlite Reel from Bass Pro Shops and spooled it with Seaguar 20# ABRAZ X fluorocarbon line. I was ready.
I was up before the alarm went off and was working on downing a pot of fresh coffee when they pulled up. Lets get this show on the road. I wanted to have a shot at these fish. I was excited. We talked about the lake and I was trying to picture it in my head and think about the conditions and the weather we were going to have in the afternoon. Needless to say when we pulled up I thought no way. This is nothing like I had pictured in my head, there can't be giant fish in here.
We walked up to the lake and I saw a few small bass on the shore and a trout rise now and then as we walked to the spot. I thought well I am here better start fishing and see what this is all about. A few minutes into throwing a chatter bait Tyler said, hey come over here and look at this tiger muskie. I walked over and saw a good sized fish up in the shallows not a giant but a good one. I threw my chatter bait past it and swam it to it just to have him swipe at it and miss it. It's on now. That's all I needed to get my blood pumping.
Five hours into the morning and all my bait boxes spread out with lures everywhere I was running out of ideas. I threw chatter baits, swim baits, jerk baits, buzz baits, crank baits, spinner baits of all colors and sizes and I was starting to feel like this wasn't going to be the trip I was hoping it would be. After all it was tiger muskie fishing. Chunk and wind., I switched back to a six inch swim bait and threw it three quarters across the cove thinking this set up is an awesome combination. I looked at my bait admiring the action it had and then I saw the torpedo following closely behind it. That is a giant....
It followed my swim bait up and then turned as it got really shallow. I quickly reeled in my bait and threw it about twelve feet past her. I reeled it towards her and gave it a twitch. She swam up and engulfed it. I set the hook and the fight was on. I couldn't believe it what a beast. She came out of the water entirely twice and stripped line every time she hit the water this was incredible . This is a fish of a life time. She made a few more runs and Tyler was down with the net getting ready and then asked me how do I net this fish it won't fit. I screamed just get her head in it and then grab her. It was truly a trophy. The biggest tiger muskie I had ever caught in my life. 46'' from tip to tail.
I was truly blessed to be able to hold such a magnificent fish and take a few photos with her. I was happy I was able to share my catch of a lifetime with Tyler and his dad and apologized for ever doubting him. It must have been my day for all the years chasing them because a few hours later I was blessed with a second one on a top water buzz plug that was no slouch either.
Tiger Muskie are truly a trophy fish. They can be found in several lakes here in Colorado. Clear Creek Reservoir, Lon Hagler, Evergreen Lake, DeWeese Reservoir, and Horseshoe Reservoir are just a few. Please practice "CPR" Catch, Photo and Release. so they can be enjoyed by others. They make great photos and memories for everyone. Now is a great time to go out and chunk and wind and have the thrill of posing with one of many Colorado water wolves. Take a kid fishing.
Best of Luck, Sam Heckman / Pro Staff