How to Handle a Tiger Muskie? Safety First, Cool Pics Second

It’s true that landing such a large, fierce game fish like Tiger Muskie is one of the most unforgettable moments in any angler’s life, and even when the moment is over it becomes an amazing achievement. But between these two phases, it’s important to make sure Tiger Muskie is safe and unharmed before taking a picture or celebrating the moment. 

So how to handle a Tiger Muskie? To handle a Tiger Muskie in the right way you need to hold it horizontally not vertically with your two hands after you carefully unhook it. One hand should be under the gill plate without touching the gills while supporting the belly with the other hand. It should be released within 30 seconds.

Wanna know how to get the cool pictures that you see of anglers holding Tiger Muskies and keep the fish safe and alive? We can give you a simple quick guide. Read on to learn more!

How to Properly Handle a Tiger Muskie? 

Tiger Muskies should be handled with the utmost care for many reasons, they’re big fish that get easily stressed when taken out of water for longer than they should. Another reason is that they fight a lot, you have to be careful to handle Tiger Muskies right or injuries might take place, whether the injuries are of you or the fish itself.

But taking a photo or getting the measurement of Tiger Muskies after an uneasy maneuver is irresistible, that’s why you need to learn how to achieve that without unpleasant consequences.

How to Safely Hold a Tiger Muskie? 

So, how to safely hold a Tiger Muskie? To hold a Tiger Muskie safely you need to hold it horizontally with one hand under the gill plate and the other one holding its belly. You need to keep your hands away from its gills not to tear or damage it. It’s better to keep it around the water to avoid accidental release onto the boat or sand.

Tiger Muskies should be held horizontally because it’s easier and more natural for them than the vertical way that can harm their gills. You should make sure you’re having a good grip on the fish if you’re holding it onto your boat if the fish is accidentally released on the boat, serious injuries might take place and it’ll generally harm the fish.

That also applies if you’re fishing onshore. It’s better to go into the water to hold the Tiger Muskie so if it gets away, it goes back to the water, any other scenario includes possible injuries.

First off, after you catch your Tiger Muskie and put it in a net, you have to make sure its head is still underwater so it can breathe properly. And if you must take it out onto the boat for pictures or measurement, you have to get her out of the net in a way that doesn’t hurt its body. And it’s advised to do the measuring while it’s still in the net, head underwater.

The first step of grabbing a Tiger Muskie from the net is having a firm grip on its tail, while the other hand is shaped in a U shape holding the gills cover firmly and pressing the thumb on the natural groove of the cover. It’ll look something like this.

Man on a boat handling a large fish to show how to handle a tiger muskie correctly
Credit: How to Properly Handle Muskies / Livin’ the Dream Guide Service

Then, you have to place your hand underneath its small fin and keep the fish on a horizontal level not to place the stress on its head and gills. Make sure you’re not touching the gills, any touching can damage them and lead to serious breathing issues for the fish.

Credit: How to Properly Handle Muskies / Livin’ the Dream Guide Service

The overall look should be something like this.

Credit: How to Properly Handle Muskies / Livin’ the Dream Guide Service

Another way for holding a Tiger Muskie is holding it by its tail. With one hand right underneath its head and the other one is grabbing the base of the tail is a secure way to hold a Muskie. But this way is preferred if you’re holding the fish into the water, so when it tries to get away it falls into the water and not the boat.

Credit: How to Properly Handle Muskies / Livin’ the Dream Guide Service

How to unhook a tiger Muskie properly? 

How to unhook a Tiger Muskie properly? To unhook a Tiger Muskie properly you need to gently grip the fish over the gill plates after turning the fish sideways and carefully clamp and twist the hooks free. If the fish is deeply hooked, it’s better to use jaw spreaders to cut the hook using hook removers and heavy-gauge wire snippers.

Unhooking can be a harmful procedure to Tiger Muskie if not done properly. You have to make sure the hook is not hurting the fish while releasing it. This procedure is also preferred to be done while the fish is in the water, The DWR recommends using long-nosed pliers to help to remove the hook safely.

You have to look after your safety too during the unhooking procedure. Tiger Muskies have sharp teeth and may cause cuts on your fingers, so make sure to have your rubber gloves on. I use these affordable fishing gloves from Amazon. They’re good enough and get the work done, so make sure to check them out.

The Safe Way to Release a Tiger Muskie 

What is a safe way to release a Tiger Muskie? The safe way to release a Tiger Muskie is carefully unhooking it using wire snippers, hold it with both hands horizontally and put them in the water. They may need time to start swimming again so you have to keep holding them without bouncing back and forth, allowing the air to go through the gills.

Remember after you celebrate your fish trophy that It’s important to release them properly not to hurt them. Make sure you’re not taking the fish out of the water longer than 30 seconds. If you have to take pictures out of the water, set up everything and get your camera ready before you take the Tiger Muskie out of the net.

If you want to know whether the Tiger Muskie is ready to start swimming again, hold it by its tail into the water and try to turn it to the side, and if it pushes back to its normal status let it go.

How to Rig a Tiger Muskies? 

So, how to rig a Tiger Muskie? To rig a Tiger Muskie you need 8-to-6 feet (2.5-to-1.8 meters) medium-heavy rod, a large bait-casting reel, A 100-pound-test (45 KG) braided line, Release tools, muskie net, and highly visible lures. Locate yourself in their prime spots, mostly around weed beds, depending on where you’re fishing.

There are lots of ways in which you can rig a Muskie, they often depend on where and when you’re fishing for it. You should also check my recommended reels for Muskies here, these are the ones that have proven excellent over my years of using them, and I think they can do you some wonders as well.

Tiger Muskies prefer cold dark circumstances, so you have higher chances of catching them in cold, mostly-cloudy areas. If this weather is not frequent where you live, that’s ok, you can choose the colder days or when it gets cloudy. You also need to target the prime time of the day, in the case of fishing for Tiger Muskies, it’s mainly dusk or dawn. The keyword is not having the sun in the middle of the sky.

Does this mean you can’t catch them in the summer? Absolutely not. I have caught plenty of Muskies in mid-summer, and you can learn how to catch Muskies in mid-summer as well here.

You can also catch them in some unexpected places, such as in creeks and shallow waters. I’ve made a guide here on how to catch a Muskie in a creek and you should definitely check it out if you have a minute. You can also check out my new guide on catching muskies in New River here.

Why are Tiger Muskies Dangerous? 

Why are Tiger Muskies dangerous? Tiger Muskies are dangerous because they’re huge, quick, fierce fish with a sharp set of teeth that are hunting all the time. They have been known to occasionally, however very rarely, attack people and bite their fingers, mistaking them for lures and something they can eat.

The Tiger Muskies’ nature is to hunt and prey all the time. Their strong bodies can be intimidating for some people, as they fight for their life when they’re hooked and this fight can get out of hand. 

There are some records of people getting bitten by Tiger Muskies, especially at night, but with further searching, it turns out it wasn’t to feed on them. Muskies don’t enjoy human flesh, so when they attack people, which is very rare, they do it for the sake of hunting, not eating, and probably because they mistook human limbs with lures they can catch.

Related Questions 

What is a Tiger Muskies’ Favorite Food? 

Tiger muskies’ favorite food is high protein-based fish such as Suckers, Tullibee, Ciscoes, minnows, Bullheads. Their opportunistic feeding habits make them go after any fish that’s easy to catch with no particular preference in most places.

Can A Tiger Muskie Bite off A Finger? 

No, a Tiger Muskie can’t bite off a finger. Tiger Muskie’s teeth are sharp but not strong enough to cut through a finger bone. They may cause superficial cuts with their sharp teeth and they’re avoided by wearing rubber gloves. 

Are Tiger Muskies Rare? 

Yes, they 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.

Helpful Resources 

How to Properly Hold and Handle Fish


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