Catch ac­tu­ally a north­ern pike

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - OUTDOORS/BASEBALL - BRYAN HEN­DRICKS

Chris Lar­son of Lit­tle Rock caught a gi­ant north­ern pike, not a muskel­lunge.

Lar­son was Sun­day’s “Sports­man of the Week” thanks to a whop­ping big fish he caught re­cently at Lake Su­pe­rior that we misiden­ti­fied as a muskie. A good num­ber of peo­ple, all North Woods trans­plants, po­litely but firmly, in­formed us of the er­ror.

It was ac­tu­ally a north­ern pike. Muskies have a sim­i­lar body struc­ture, but they have stripes, not spots.

The mis­take was mine, not Lar­son’s. He’s from Wis­con­sin and knows the dif­fer­ence. He re­leased the fish alive.

Most Arkies prob­a­bly don’t re­mem­ber that we once had a tro­phy tiger muskel­lunge fish­ery in the Spring River that ex­isted un­til maybe the early 2000s.

The tiger muskie is a cross be­tween a muskel­lunge and north­ern pike. The Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion stocked them at Mam­moth Spring to con­trol an over­pop­u­la­tion of carp. As of­ten hap­pens, a 50-year flood washed tiger muskies into the Spring River proper where they thrived on a high-pro­tein diet of rain­bow trout.

Randy Wy­att caught the state’s big­gest tiger muskie from the Spring River in 1995, weigh­ing in at 23 pounds, 12 ounces. A spec­i­men caught in 1997 weighed 22 pounds.

I am pretty sure I en­coun­tered a tiger muskie in my first trip to the Spring River in 1993. I was fish­ing be­low the horse­shoe fall rapid near the old pub­lic ac­cess with an ul­tra­light spin­ning rig and a Bomber Ul­tra­light A in lemon lime color. I got a tremen­dous strike that de­stroyed the lure. I reeled in the lip and the split ring, and the fish kept the rest.

While re­search­ing a story about the Spring River’s tiger muskies I wrote for Arkansas Wildlife mag­a­zine in 1997, I heard about an al­leged al­ter­ca­tion be­tween a for­mer trout bi­ol­o­gist and a fish­eries tech­ni­cian that oc­curred over tiger muskies.

They were elec­trofish­ing the Spring River at night when they shocked up a big tiger muskie. The trout bi­ol­o­gist is said to have killed it with a whack across the head with a boat pad­dle.

The tech, who was from Wis­con­sin and who had greater af­fec­tion for muskies and pike, was in­censed. Fis­ticuffs are said to have en­sued.

Both po­litely re­fused to talk about it, but the tech was re­as­signed to a dif­fer­ent part of the state shortly af­ter it hap­pened.

The tiger muskies are all gone now, and the wall­eye has re­claimed its place as the Spring River’s apex preda­tor.

For what it’s worth, our state record north­ern pike weighed 16 pounds, 1 ounce. Dick Coo­ley caught it in 1973 at DeGray Lake, about one year af­ter the lake was cre­ated.

NA­TIONAL CHAM­PI­ONS

Brothers Zach Mey­ers and Nick Mey­ers of He­ber Springs dom­i­nated the 32nd an­nual Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion Na­tional Youth Hunter Ed­u­ca­tion Chal­lenge on July 23-28 at the NRA’s Whit­ting­ton Cen­ter at Raton, N.M.

Zach Mey­ers, 18, won the over­all se­nior ti­tle, and Nick Mey­ers, 15, won the over­all ju­nior ti­tle by out­point­ing com­peti­tors from across the coun­try.

Zach Mey­ers placed first in the archery, muz­zleloader, com­pass and ori­en­teer­ing, and wildlife iden­ti­fi­ca­tion events. He scored a per­fect 300 in wildlife iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for the first time in YHEC his­tory. He also fin­ished sec­ond in .22 Ri­fle and third in the Hunter Re­spon­si­bil­ity Exam.

Nick Mey­ers placed first in archery, wildlife iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and muz­zleloader, scor­ing a per­fect 300 in the lat­ter. He also placed third in the shot­gun com­pe­ti­tion.

In ad­di­tion, Hunter Stover of Ben­ton County placed third in the Ju­nior Divi­sion’s .22 ri­fle com­pe­ti­tion.

C.J. Brock of Faulkner County placed third in the Ju­nior Divi­sion Com­pass and Ori­en­teer­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

W.T. Moore of Izard County took sec­ond place in the Se­nior Divi­sion archery com­pe­ti­tion.

DEER PER­MITS DRAWN

The Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion has awarded this year’s per­mits to hunt white-tailed deer on cer­tain wildlife man­age­ment ar­eas. Email no­ti­fi­ca­tions were dis­trib­uted last Thurs­day to in­form ap­pli­cants of their sta­tus.

The Game and Fish Com­mis­sion ad­vises ap­pli­cants to check for no­ti­fi­ca­tions in their spam fil­ters.

Suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants can claim their per­mits by vis­it­ing https://ar-web.s3li­cens­ing. com/, choos­ing “WMA Ap­pli­ca­tions” and click­ing the “WMA Per­mits” tab. Select your per­mit and fin­ish by click­ing “Com­plete Pur­chase.”

Although the fi­nal com­mand in­di­cates a pur­chase, there is no charge be­cause ap­pli­cants were re­quired to pay $5 up front. In the past, suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants paid a $10 fee when they claimed their per­mits.

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