PHOENIX - In a remote lake in Central Arizona, staff members with the state's Game and Fish department are using an unusual tactic to help control the fish population.
High in the Bradshaw Mountains, south of Crown King, is the pristine Horsethief Lake. What makes the lake unique, besides its breathtaking beauty, is the fact that this lake is the only body of water in the state stocked with a very interesting specimen of fish.
The Tiger Muskie.
"A Tiger Muskee is a cross between a Northern Pike and a regular Muskellunge," said Curt Gill, the Aquatic Wildlife Program Manager for Arizona Game and Fish. "They have a lot of teeth, they are a voracious predator, kind of unique in that regard they'll do a good job reducing the smaller fish population in here."
That's exactly why the Tiger Muskie was introduced to the lake: to help control the population of the other fish that are currently stunted.
"We stocked 450 of them in here this spring that were about 2" to 3" long," said Gill. "As they grow, they'll start to feed on some of those smaller Bass and Redear Sunfish."
Tiger Muskies could grow to be upwards of 50 inches (~1.2m) long.
"The hope is they'll reduce the population a little bit, and allow the bass and sunfish that are left to grow to a larger size, a more catchable size that anglers like to keep and eat," said Gill.
Gill and his team have come up to the lake every few months to track the progress of how all the fish are doing.
"We also weigh and measure the fish to see how the size changes over time, so that way we can look and see," said Gill. "So we put the Tiger Muskie in, they start preying on the fish, we can see if we do see an increase and the size of those Large Mouth Bass and the Redear Sunfish in the reservoir."
If this works, they could use this in other lakes around the state.