Connecticut Angler Surprised After Catching Two Rare Tiger Muskies

by Lauren Boisvert

A Connecticut man has caught not one, but two rare tiger muskies after two separate fishing trips in July. Joe Rivas took two trips to Lake Lillinonah last month. On the first trip, he caught a tiger muskie that weighed 26 pounds and measured in at 41 inches. On his second trip, he caught an additional tiger muskie that measured about 42 inches. Unfortunately, he was unable to weigh it, so whether it would have beat out the first muskie is a mystery.

The Connecticut Department of Fish and Wildlife shared Rivas’ photos, writing, “How is your summer fishing going?! Thanks to Joe for sharing this photo of an impressive tiger muskie he recently caught. The tiger muskie is a cross between a northern pike and a muskellunge.” Many commenters were confused and curious as to why there was one tiger muskie in Lake Lillinonah, let alone two.

The issue is that tiger muskies usually aren’t found in Connecticut. They prefer Canada, Midwestern lakes, the Ohio River, and many lakes in Washington State. Additionally, there was a big one outside of Pittsburgh this March as well. They need cool, clear, freshwater with both shallow and deep areas. The CDFW clarified that the Lake Lillinonah Authority did have a permit to introduce the fish to Lake Lillinonah about five or seven years ago. These tiger muskies have definitely thrived in the Connecticut waters.

Rivas told the Connecticut News-Times that his first muskie was the “fish of a lifetime.” He was even more surprised when he caught the second one. For his first catch, he shared that he’s getting a replica made. “When I saw it flash in the water and I actually saw the wide profile,” said Rivas, “I knew what it was, and the adrenaline just went through the roof.”

Why Are Tiger Muskie So Rare?

Tiger muskies are actually hybrids between a pike and a regular muskie. Usually, pike spawn first, but occasionally a pike will spawn late enough for a male to fertilize the egg of a female muskellunge. The product of that union is the rare and beautiful tiger muskie. These fish are sterile, being hybrids, so a large population of them is rare. Most likely, in bodies of water with large tiger muskie populations, the state has stocked them.

Allegedly, tiger muskies are more aggressive than the typical muskellunge, and grow much larger than typical pike. They’re an angler’s dream because they’re so hard to catch. They’re extremely wary of bait, and it usually takes a lot of time and a lot of casting to finally haul one in.

The biggest tiger muskie ever caught is still a 69-pound, 11-ounce specimen caught by Louis Spray in 1949 on Northwest Wisconsin’s Chippewa Flowage. Others have been close to beating the world record, but that monster still holds on.