Montana has a new state record tiger musky, caught from the waters of Deadmans Basin last Saturday by Billings angler Jesse Sanchez.
The fish was 48.38 inches long and weighed 30 pounds. It eclipsed the old mark of 46 inches long and 27.87 pounds, also caught from Deadmans by Marty Storfa in 2006.
As Sanchez tells the story, “My uncle Danny Sanchez and I both have cabins at Deadmans Basin. Our Saturday started like every other Saturday with lawn mowing and weekend maintenance.
“We got a late start on the water, about 11 a.m., and were originally trolling for trout or salmon. But we noticed small schools of minnows close to the shore jumping out of the water,” he said. “My uncle said, ‘When you see that, there is a large predator fish like a brown trout or tiger musky chasing them.’”
Sanchez continued, “We had a small Ugly Stik (fishing rod) with 10-pound Spider Wire (fishing line) in the boat. We were not prepared for musky fishing. All I had that resembled a small trout-like minnow was a four-inch-long Daredevle spoon.
“We quickly got into position and uncle Danny said, ‘Right there. Cast just beyond the jumping minnows.’ And the cast was perfect. I hooked into the new state record, a 30-pound, 48.38-inch tiger musky,” Sanchez said.
They got an official weight on a certified scale at the Ace Hardware in Harlowton.
Then, they went back out fishing just before dark.
“We actually caught another musky that broke the state record and was 47 inches long that evening,” Sanchez said.
“But the best part of catching the state record was fishing with my uncle Danny. We had the time of our lives,” he said. “Whenever anyone asks ‘Where did you catch them?,” my uncle Danny always says, ‘Funny thing is – we caught them both in the top lip!’”
Tiger muskies are a sterile hybrid cross of a muskellunge and a northern pike. Because they can’t reproduce, controlled numbers of tiger muskies have been stocked in some Montana lakes to control huge sucker populations.
By reducing the sucker populations, they free up food and space for more desirable species like the rainbow trout and kokanee salmon of Deadmans Basin.
As a bonus, when you hook a big tiger musky like Sanchez did, you’ve got a trophy fish in its own right on the end of your line.