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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Imagine that you’re fishing for crappie on your favorite lake. After a successful morning, you’re thinking about packing up early and getting home before lunch.
Suddenly, your pole snaps down and your reel starts screaming. You tighten the drag, but the powerful fish is gone within seconds, biting through your six-pound test monofilament like a spaghetti noodle.
If something like this has ever happened to you, you might’ve had a run-in with the elusive tiger muskie. A hybrid cross between a northern pike and a muskie, they get their name from the vertical stripes that adorn their sides. Tiger muskies are the closest thing to barracudas that we have in Utah. Shaped like torpedoes, they attack with ferocious speed, and the largest specimens exceed 50 inches in length.
Here are five of the best spots in the Beehive State to target these unique fish.
Pineview Reservoir ==================
Located in Ogden Valley, Pineview Reservoir is considered by many to be the crown jewel of Utah tiger muskie fishing. The current state record, a 49-incher caught in 2006, came from these waters. Ditto for the catch and release record, a 53-incher landed in 1998. The reservoir can get crowded in the summer, but if you stick to the shorelines, Pineview is a prime place to hunt for a trophy.
Newton Reservoir ================
This small reservoir in Cache Valley has a surface area under 300 acres when full. It’s home to bluegill, perch, sunfish, rainbow trout, and tiger muskies. Though the tiger muskies in Newton haven’t quite reached the massive sizes found in Pineview, there are still numerous specimens caught each year that exceed 40 inches.
Joes Valley Reservoir =====================
Many anglers flock to Joes Valley in search of splake. These trout are hybrid, like tiger muskies, and can reach up to 16 pounds. The current Utah catch and release record for splake was caught here in 2017. But tigers also call Joes Valley home, and they’ve been known to shock many an angler by aggressively striking lures and jigs intended for other species.
Utah’s largest mountain lake is also one of the prettiest. It’s long been known for Mackinaw, but in recent years, tiger muskies stocked in nearby Johnson Reservoir have traveled upstream and set up shop in Fish Lake. While there isn’t an abundance of tigers here, they grow big due to the favorable conditions. The current Utah spearfishing record for tiger muskie, a 46-incher, was set in Fish Lake in 2013.
Johnson Reservoir =================
Often overlooked because of its close proximity to Fish Lake, this sometimes-muddy reservoir still has a lot to offer. First of all, you can usually enjoy solitude while fishing here — a nearly impossible feat at Pineview or Joes Valley. Additionally, there’s a solid population of tiger muskies in Johnson that can reach trophy sizes.
Where do you go to fish tiger muskies? Comment below. Grant Olsen joined the KSL.com team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. He is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." You can contact him at www.grant-olsen.com.