Do Tiger Muskies Bite Humans? What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Know

Tiger muskie is known to be a hybrid of two fierce fish species, muskie, and northern pike, so you can’t expect them to be any less aggressive than these two. They take aggressiveness to the next level and try to attack humans being the vicious, opportunistic feeders they are, but how far can they go? 

Do tiger muskies bite humans? Tiger muskies do bite humans. However, it occurs very rarely, and it’s not because of feeding purposes. Tiger muskies may bite humans with their set of sharp teeth because they mistake them for something they can eat. You can avoid the bite if you follow some simple precautions.

Keep reading to know the reasons, myths, facts, and dangers associated with tiger muskies’ rare but occurring attacks.

What Are Tiger Muskies? 

a photo of a tiger muskie to show that tiger muskies do bite humans

Tiger muskie is a hybrid between muskellunge and northern pike. It happens when the two species mate which is not very often in the wild, as the two fish don’t usually spawn in similar habitats at the same time. 

In some years, the heat rises faster than usual, and so does the water temperature. That’s when there’s a probability that muskie and pike spawning times will overlap. If temperatures rise fast enough after ice-out, instinct will force both fish to spawn at the same time, even if it’s not their usual time.  

Tiger muskies share the physical features of the two species combined; they have a light skin background under dark olive-grey vertical markings like the regular muskie, but their tail differs from a muskie’s pointed tail as it’s more rounded at the edges like northern pike.

Ready for your next fishing trip? Check out my recommended Muskie reels here.

Do Tiger Muskies Attack Humans? 

Unfortunately, yes, tiger muskies attack humans. But before you freak out or believe myths associated with this freshwater monster, you need to know everything about the causes and effects of these attacks and how you can avoid going home with a bleeding hand or foot.

Human flesh isn’t on the menu of things muskies enjoy, so when they attack a human, it’s not because they’re trying to bite their flesh off; it’s simply because they’re yielding to their predatory nature. They attack, puncture, and grab their prey before they consider what the prey is.

Muskies attack everything they assume they can feed on. If you keep wiggling your hand or feet in the water, they’ll think it’s something that they can attack and eat. Again, it happens very rarely, and the chances they’ll attack you in open waters without attractions from your side is close to zero.

Check out this cool video of a scuba diver’s encounter with a muskie!

Do Tiger Muskies Bite Humans? 

There have been some news reports of tiger muskies incidents where they bite someone’s feet or fingers. Anglers are most prone to these bites as they have close interaction with the monster while they unhook it.

As mentioned before, whether they attempted to attack or succeeded in causing cuts to your skin, tiger muskies won’t intentionally bite you to feed on you. They’re opportunistic predator fish that can go after anything they can swallow even when they’re not that hungry, and they grab their prey before they consider what the prey is.

I have another post on whether carp bite humans that you can check out.

Should You Be Worried About a Muskie Attack?

The short answer is “no, you shouldn’t be worried about a muskie attack,” whether you’re swimming in a lake that’s known to have a muskie population or you’re an angler chasing muskies in their natural habitat.

Muskies can attack and bite humans only if they give them a reason to. If you’re wearing shiny jewelry that reflects light in the water, they may mistake it for lures and chase you to catch it, causing cuts to your hands or feet. If you’re an angler unhooking a muskie without safety gloves or long pliers, this might entice them to catch your finger.

It’s good to know that muskies won’t attack anything bigger than ⅓ of their body length. So if you’re peacefully swimming in a lake that has a muskie population, you’re in no danger if you’re not wearing any eye-catching pieces.

Here are some extra tips that can help you avoid enticing tiger muskies to bite you:

  1. Don’t leave your hands or feet dangling near the water surface, especially when you have nail polish on. Colors entice muskie to strike, mistaking it for lures.
  2. Avoid wearing shiny accessories. Muskies can be triggered to strike by any flashy jewelry paired with rapid movement.
  3. Don’t get too close to their mouth after being caught. Their sharp set of teeth can catch your finger in no time while they’re struggling to get back into the water.
  4. Keep your boat stable. The aggressiveness of muskies on an unstable boat can maximize potential risks.
  5. Always be ready with a good quality musky net to ensure a safe and secure hold of the muskie. It helps you keep the muskie underwater during measurement to decrease its aggressive behavior resulting from stressing out.
  6. Be ready with rubber gloves to hold a muskie after you catch it. It protects your hand from its sharp teeth. I recommend these gloves from BIG WORM FISHING; they’re highly affordable and effective for safely handling fish.
  7. Use release tools like long-nosed pliers to help to remove the hook safely without exposing your fingers to their teeth.
  8. Hold a muskie horizontally, not vertically, after you catch them. Holding them vertically can damage their gills and maximize their stress, hence, more aggressive actions. Learn how to properly handle a tiger Muskie here.
  9. Hold a muskie with both hands horizontally to safely release your muskie back into the water.

Related Questions 

What Do Tiger Muskies Bite on? 

Tiger muskies bite on baitfish such as shad, cisco, carp, suckers, and any other oily, fatty fish that is high in protein. Their feeding preference changes according to water temperature, the time of the day, and the fishing season.

Are Tiger Muskies Rare? 

Tiger Muskies are one of the rarest fish in North America. They occur from cross-breeding northern pike and muskies, which doesn’t happen a lot. They are also found in limited places in the United States and Canada, as they prefer to stay in colder waters with cloudy dark weather.

Can Muskies Bite Your Finger Off? 

Muskie cannot bite your finger off. Muskie teeth are razor-sharp and can indeed cause cuts to your finger, but it’s not strong enough to cut through a human finger bone. The maximum damage is that the cut can be deep enough to need stitches.

All-Things Muskies

Helpful Resources 

What is a Tiger Muskie?

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