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Out & About: Tiger muskies rule at Curlew

Biologist Randy Osborne with 49-inch, 40-pound Curlew Lake tiger musky.
Biologist Randy Osborne with 49-inch, 40-pound Curlew Lake tiger musky.

OUTSIZED – The data aren’t analyzed yet, but the fish observed by a team of warmwater fisheries biologists at Curlew Lake last week left a big impression.

“It appears there are more largemouth bass in the 12- to 16-inch range rather than just the tons of smaller bass we’ve seen in past years,” said Bill Baker, Washington Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist.

Using electrofishing and sampling nets in the annual survey, the team also found smallmouths and a small but disturbing number of perch, perhaps illegally put into the lake.

“Perch could have an impact on the fishery down the road, especially the trout,” Baker said.

Fall rainbow fry plants combined with 60,000 net-pen trout raised by the Curlew Lake Association combine for an annual release of 200,000 trout.

But the sterile tiger muskies introduced to thin out the lake’s former abundance of pikeminnows have done their job and attracted an avid niche of trophy fishermen.

A 40-pound tiger captured in the survey is one of the largest the fish biologists have handled. Tags indicated it was 10 years old. Biologists say it’s rare to find one in their surveys older than 8.

“It was 49 inches long,” said Bruce Bolding, state warmwater fisheries manager, noting fishing regulations require anglers to release any tiger musky less than 50 inches.

“The tournament anglers have documented only three tiger muskies longer than 50 inches in the state, but they release them all,” he said. “They want to try to catch them again.”

Time to get oriented

OUTCOMPASS – National Orienteering Day will be celebrated Saturday with two classes and an orienteering event at Mirabeau Point in Spokane Valley.

Intro to Orienteering starts at 9:30 a.m. at Center Place. Orienteering Skills starts at 1 p.m.

Preregister with Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation, adult programs,

The event with on-site registration runs from 11 a.m.-noon.