Ice Fisherman Lands 25-Pound Tiger Muskie on First Trip to New Lake

by Jonathan Howard

Some guys just have all the luck. This ice fisherman went looking for perch, but he found a 25-pound tiger muskie. That’s a bit like casting for some small-mouth bass and landing a big catfish or something at your local pond. This is a great fishing story this man won’t soon forget.

Daniel Salter fishes everywhere. If he can find a body of water and a place to put a line, then he’s going to find it. However, it was while he was fishing just 35 miles east of Pittsburgh on Keystone Lake. Salter had never been to the location before and was excited to catch some perch in the frozen lake.

With 950 acres of water, this lake contains all kinds of fish. Not just perch. The fisherman was using a tip-up rig with a 15-pound test line. On just a single hook he had a live shiner, nothing too big. Again, he was looking for perch, not a monster tiger muskie.

Now, we’ve all been there, your guard is down a bit when all of a sudden that line starts to spin out, and fast. Sometimes a fisherman can be fooled by a smaller, more excited fish. They fight pretty good. However, this was different for Salter. He knew he had something big immediately and let it run the line out before he set his hook.

“I could tell it was a big fish,” Salter said to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. “The line was really going out. I waited until it stopped, and I set the hook.

“When it got nearer and [it] swam past, I could see how big it was,” he continued. “I wondered if we could get it through [the hole].”

Fisherman Battles Tiger Muskie

When you hook a fish that is 25-pounds and more than 45-inches long, then things are going to be tough. Battling with the fish was a dance. He had to make sure that he tired it out without letting the line grind up against the ice. Once he saw how big it was, he wasn’t sure how he would get it on the ice.

However, 20 minutes of battling wore the animal out, and with a friend’s help, he was able to get it through the small hole that was 8-inches in diameter. This fish was big enough to keep, all tiger muskies over 40 inches in Pennsylvania are allowed for harvest. What’s remarkable, Salter didn’t keep the fish.

“We ice fish all over the place, all the lakes,” he said. “I never dreamed I’d catch something like that.”

Tiger muskies are like the mules of the fish world. A hybrid breed between a northern pike and a muskellunge, these fish are beautiful and hard to catch. Pennsylvania keeps 34 lakes and 18 rivers stocked through hatchery programs. These fish are usually sterile and don’t reproduce much in the wild.