Tiger Muskie on the Fly

by | Jun 3, 2020 | fly fishing for tiger muskie

June 1 & 2


tiger-muskieIts been awhile since I tossed flies with dreams of catching my first tiger muskie.  I’ve been a few places that have them in recent years but I honestly can’t say I was there targeting them.  But the last day and a half I’ve been down in Utah giving it a shot.  To the exact lake Granny and I got skunked at trying for them about 15 years ago.


muskie-fliesWith all my lost travel plans due to Covid-19 there’s been little chance of adding new kinds of fish to my species list.  The last add on was the longnose gar back in February.  So when friend Casey Birkholz, who lives in Utah and knows the tiger muskie well, invited me and Tim Brune down to Utah to fish with him, we made a plan.  The plan unfolded Monday afternoon when Tim and I made the four hour trek.


casey-birkholzTurned out we had good timing and bad.  The bad was that Casey forgot about his young daughters birthday and would only be able to fish with us early morning on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The good is that early June is prime time.  So good, Casey had faith that if he showed us his flies and some spots we’d figure it out.  While we gave an unsuccessful try Monday night, Tuesday morning when Casey hopped in our boat at 6 AM to show us around, I felt we had a good chance.


fly-fishing-muskieTiger muskie fishing in Utah is straight forward.  Cast to the sunken logs along the bank and keep an eye out for weed beds.  Any time you find weeds toss to them as well.  Casey also told us that early morning wasn’t a good time because the tigers like the water to warm up.  He simply got up at 6 to visit with old friends and kindly show us the lake in great detail.


muskellunge-flyCasey headed home at 8 AM.  Tim and I picked apart the banks with relentless casts and big streamers.  I was using a standard of mine, the Warpath Jig Fly in black and gold.  This fly kills it for me for pike.  Brune was tossing some of Casey’s big flies.  Tim casted a 9-weight while because of my dang elbow issues, I went with my Winston 7-weight Alpha + and an SA Intermediate sinking line.


jeff-currier-bassThings were slow to say the least.  We fished through some incredible structure.  Occasionally small yellow perch or a black crappie would investigate our flies but they were far to big for them to eat.  Then finally I caught a 12” largemouth bass.  As I always like to say, “the skunk was out of the boat”.



The bass came at 9 AM.  The catch created some hope for Tim and I that things were about to turn on.  However another hour went by with absolutely nothing.  Not a bite.  Not a follow.  Not anything.


Fishing was tough but Casey had made one memorable remark before he left.  He hadn’t seen a tiger this season before 10 AM.  And in fact, they always eat after 10 in the spring.  So Tim and I banked on that statement.  And lo and behold, at 10:08 Tim laid into a nice one.



Tim’s 9-weight bent deep.  He saw the stocky fish eat his fly and shouted “Muskie” in an instant.  The tiger went down then shot up and did a cartwheel style leap.  It was an awesome sight with all the crazy stripes on its side.  I enjoyed that then sunk the net under the long fish.


Tim-Brune-muskieTim had our first tiger muskie.  This is Tim’s second of his life.  He caught one with Casey years ago at another nearby lake.  The fish was hooked badly so photos weren’t the priority.  I got a couple lousy shots then we released the beautiful Esox masquinongy x Esox lucius.


musky-releaseWe thought we were on them at that moment.  It was after 10 and often with true muskellunge of Wisconsin and pike anywhere – if you find one hungry one you’ll find another.  But that wasn’t the case.  We took turns chucking blind for them another three hours without turning a single fish.


It was a hot calm day and I was behind the oars at 1 PM.  I went shirtless and cracked a good microbrew.  That’s about when we started to see some tigers sunning in the weeds.  It was total rejuvenation for us both even though it was only a random one here and there.  There was one problem however, they showed no interest in either of our flies.


muskellungeNeither Tim or I are ones to give up.  While we left briefly to check another of Casey’s spots, when we didn’t see a fish in the first ten minutes we returned to the weedy area with fish.  It was my turn and I got casts to at least three of them in a matter of minutes.  There was one that turned and followed but then sank from sight.  I held my next cast only to see him again.  This time he tracked my fly to the rod tip and before I had to start a figure-eight, I witnessed the gill-flaring grab that muskies and pike are famous for.  “Muskie ON!”


I had a good one and I must say that with a 7-weight I was borderline under gunned.  I have plenty of experience with big fish so I used a few tricks.  At one point the muskie dove deep in the weeds and I thought the battle was over.  But I eased my tension and luckily he freed himself.  After a couple more short runs Tim filled the net with tiger


Jeff-Currier-tiger-muskieTo say a tiger muskie is a handsome fish is an understatement.  This predator gleamed with his dark brown stripes over a silvery-oilish finish.  I was delighted with this fish and could not take my eyes off it.


Jeff-Currier-muskieMy muskie was also hooked deep but with the longnose pliers it came out easy.  I was lucky and with a healthy fish in hand Tim started cracking off some pics.  I simply smiled and admired my first tiger muskie on fly!


We fished those weeds hard for another couple hours but it seemed you catch one and the word was out.  The boys were in town and you better not eat.  Tim and I never saw another muskie all day.


mirror-carpThe lake turns into a waterskiing, wakeboarding, jet skiing and speedboat wave-making party after folks from the Salt Lake City region get off work.  Honestly, the way they zig zag around it was terrifying in a tiny drift boat.  Tim and I headed back near the ramp we camped at and investigated some far back bays and lake channels.  It turned into a fun evening of chasing carp.  Here’s a little one that pinned my rubber-legs like a permit hammers a crab.


fish-UtahIt was a marathon day.  We had the boat on the water at 5:15 AM and didn’t return to the boat ramp until 9:15 PM.  That’s a day!  And we both slept like logs.


June 3


musky-fishingToday we got up early again and met up with Casey again as well.  He was mighty stoked to hear Tim and I each landed a tiger muskie.  The fish are not the easiest to catch on a fly.  We fished with Casey until 10 AM then called it quits.  Despite hitting several of his favorite haunts we got skunked.  That’s tiger muskie fishing.


tiger-muskieThe only reason we left at 10 AM today was because I had my last Online Presentation for Fly Fishers International tonight.  Its been a fun five weeks giving these talks.  Now that its summer I’m taking a break so I don’t have to leave fishing early again till the darkness of November.  But I’ll be doing them again then.  That’s it for now.  Time for some needed sleep and a few days catching up around the house.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!