One of natures coolest mistakes has got to be the tiger muskie! This cross between a northern pike and muskie has the most intricate colour design of all freshwater fish species. Like most hybrids in nature the tiger muskie is sterile and cannot reproduce! This makes them extremely rare to exist and even more so to catch. Tiger muskie are born in seasons where water warms quickly which causes female muskie to move into the shallows earlier than usual and while male pike are still around spawning.
Tiger muskie can often be confused with barred muskie but there are easy ways to distinguish between them. The first and most important way to tell a tiger muskie apart from a barred muskie look at the tail fins. Barred muskie will have pointed fins but tigers will have rounded! When comparing to pike the tiger will have a light base with dark stripes and the pike will have dark base with light stripes. The stripes will also be vertical on the tiger and not horizontal like on the pike. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has numerous forms of documentation on how to identify each species should you need more information.
Despite the indicators above there are some color variations within this species. Typically, tigers will have a light or silver base colour with dark vertical bars. However, there are also some that have a dark base and light vertical bars! So this begs the questions; Why? The darker colour pattern seems to resemble a pike more than a muskie. This has us thinking it could be a female pike and male muskie hybrid rather than the normal! After doing some research we weren't able to find any definitive results other than that anglers often call these "tiger pike" while they are still in fact classified as a muskie! We even reached out to the renowned Gord Pyzer to see if he had any insights on reasons for these colour variations but even he is not aware of anything definitive. This will be one area of study to keep an eye on in the future to obtain a true understanding of this species.
Although not a scientific resource the website below has examples of more colour patterns found within the tiger muskier hybrid species which are cool to look at!
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