What is a tiger trout?
If you pay attention to stats on new fishing records, you may have seen that Don Musser of Tryon recently caught a new state record with a 3-pound 15-ounce tiger trout. I had a reader comment that they had never heard of a tiger trout and wanted to know what they were and where they came from. OK…here’s the scoop:
Tiger trout are a hybrid of brown trout and brook trout. Tiger trout are an anomaly in nature. Brown trout and brook trout don’t normally cross with one another, but it has happened. Documentation of such crossings goes back as far as 1944.
If you get into the genetics a bit deeper you will find that a brown trout has 80 chromosomes and a brook trout has 84. Fisheries biologists have figured out that tiger trout can be produced reliably in hatcheries. The technique used, called heat shocking, causes the creation of an extra set of chromosomes and it increases the survival rate of fertilized eggs from about 5 percent to 85 percent.
Tiger trout have a reputation of being aggressive feeders, growing quickly and to sizes that attract anglers. Tigers have been extensively stocked in the Great Lakes and the world record tiger trout, a 20-pound, 13-ounce specimen caught in Lake Michigan. Another reason fisheries biologist like tiger trout is that they are known to be very predatory on small fish. They are often stocked to control rough fish populations. These traits have made tiger trout popular with many state stocking programs.
Tiger trout are a very striking fish visually and have a very distinct look to them. The pattern on them is quite unique, a squiggly and wiggly type pattern that is known as vermiculation. Vermiculation is defined as having the pattern or marking that resembles the track of a worm.
A total of 15,700 tiger trout, obtained from a fish farm in Wyoming, were stocked in Lake Ogallala in July of 2016. Growth rates can average over one-inch per month. This is going to create an impressive fishery. The NGPC now raises tiger trout at the Rock Creek Hatchery, near Parks. Closer to Beatrice, tiger trout have been stocked at Two River State Recreation area. Now you know!
If you want to catch a big walleye, fall is a time when your odds of doing so are probably the best. For many walleye anglers, autumn is the most consistent producer of big fish. .
One reason that walleyes go on a night-bite cycle in the fall is the baitfish they feed on. Many baitfish species are fall spawners. They’re in the shallows laying their eggs at a time of year when the walleyes are interested in adding some fat to their body to get them through the winter months. Baitfish are very susceptible to hungry walleyes in shallow areas.
Look for fall-spawning baitfish in shallow water that is near deep water. Shorelines or off-shore shallow sand or rock areas will be good starting points. I also look for shallow water with adjacent weed lines. Get to your spot before the sun goes down and get set up. Keep quiet. When fish are shallow, they’re oftentimes spooky. Mark Sexton, a biologist and lure designer with Berkley Pure Fishing, told me the prime time for big walleyes in the fall is when the yard lights around any given lake begin to turn on.
Use larger crankbaits and some three or four inch Power Grubs to search the shallows. Cast and retrieve at a medium speed to entice a strike. Toss your lure parallel to the weed line or other structure for the best results.
If you enjoy squirrel hunting, this might interest you. Mepps, the fishing lure company, has a long running program that has been offered to hunters for years. Each year they ask hunters to save their squirrel tails and Mepps will buy them. The tails are used for their hand-tied, dressed hooks.
Mepps has been recycling squirrel tails for over half-a-century. Mepps buys fox, black, grey and red squirrel tails and will pay up to 26 cents each for tails, depending on quality and quantity. Plus, the cash value can be doubled if the tails are traded for Mepps lures. For details on the Mepps Squirrel Tail Program, either visit www.mepps.com/squirrels or call 800-713-3474.