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Determining the Impact of Tiger Muskellunge Predation on Stocked Fish Intended to Improve Recreational Fisheries
Determining the Impact of Tiger Muskellunge Predation on Stocked Fish Intended to Improve Recreational Fisheries

​​​​​​​​Led By

Jesse L​epak​

Study Area

Five Colorado Reservoirs (Big Creek, Clear Creek, De Weese, Parvin, and Pinewood)

Project Status


Research Objectives

  • To determine the effectiveness of stocking tiger muskellunge to control white sucker populations.
  • To determine the impact of tiger muskellunge on stocked fish, such as rainbow trout.​

Project Description

Fisheries managers often stock reservoirs and lakes in an effort to improve sport fishing for anglers and to enhance native species restoration efforts. However, white suckers have been shown to compete with salmonid species including popular sport fish like rainbow trout. 

In Colorado, fisheries managers often stock tiger muskellunge, a sterile hybrid of northern pike and muskellunge, to suppress white sucker populations, which compete with rainbow trout. However, tiger muskellunge will also prey on trout. ​

As a result, CPW initiated a research project to study tiger muskellunge predation on stocked fish, such as rainbow trout.

Researchers collected tissue samples from tiger muskellunge found in five Colorado reservoirs. Using muscle tissue chemistry, researchers could estimate the proportion of stocked fish eaten by tiger muskellunges in each reservoir.

Results from this study suggest that stocking fish in lakes and reservoirs that contain predators  may result in losses of stocked fish. Therefore, systems must be selected carefully to maximize the benefits of stocking tiger muskellunge as a biological control for undesirable species while minimizing the costs to stocked fish intended for recreational angling. This information will help fisheries managers determine the most appropriate management strategies and increase the effectiveness of fish stocking programs.​

Associated Publications​

Lepak, J.M., Cathcart, C.N., and Stacy, W.L. 2014. Tiger muskellunge predation upon stocked sport fish intended for recreational fisheries. Lake and Reservoir Management. 30:250-257.

Lepak, J.M., Fetherman, E.R., Pate, W.M., Craft, C.D. and Gardunio, E.I. 2012. An experimental approach to determine esocid prey preference in replicated pond systems.  Lake and Reservoir Management. 28:224-231.