Time to Try Tiger Trout

Try Tiger Trout
Photo courtesy Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game

By HOLLY ENDERSBY

Deer Creek Reservoir, a 75-five-acre lake 10 miles north of Pierce, Idaho, is a mecca for tiger trout angling. These sterile hybrids of brown and brook trout add another dimension to trout fishing and are a conservation success story.

In 2006, Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists became aware of golden shiners showing up in the reservoir. These nonnative fish ate so much plankton that brook and brown trout were literally being starved out.

The IDFG used rotenone to kill the invasive fish in the reservoir in 2006 and 2010, but to their dismay, shiners just kept showing up.

Golden shiners are native to the Mississippi River drainage, where they are often used as bait for large mouth bass. They can be bought on line, kept in live wells, and, unfortunately, dumped out at the end of a fishing day. How these fish got into Idaho waters is a mystery, but they seem to be here to stay.

When rotenone didn’t effectively curb the golden shiner population, biologists began investigating other controls.

Enter the tiger trout.

These trout are natural predators of golden shiners, and, while they won’t completely eliminate the invasive fish, they have proven to be an effective population inhibitor.

According to IDFG fisheries biologist Robert Hand, the tiger trout makes for an excellent sport fishing experience.

“They are a gorgeous fish with beautiful coloration,” he said. “They hit a lure hard but are pretty easy to land.”

Hand also said the first attempt to introduce tiger trout was less than satisfactory.

“We first stocked the reservoir with hatchery-raised, 3-inch tiger trout, and most ended up being eaten by shiners,” he said. “So, in June 2016, we stocked with 8- to 12-inch fish and got a good retention rate.”

These bigger fish immediately began eating golden shiners as their major food source.

“Tiger Trout are voracious, aggressive feeders, and they grow fast,” explained Hand. “Not only do they control the golden shiner population, they provide a great experience for anglers.”

As a bonus, Hand said these trout are especially tasty.

The IDFG typically stocks tiger trout in early June with the current preferred size of 10- to 13-inch juveniles.

The state record for tiger trout came from Deer Creek Reservoir, with a nice 22-incher.

“But there are plenty of 16- to 17-inch fish for anglers to land,” added Hand.

He recommends using spinners and spoons or flies with streamers, using gold or silver colors to imitate the shiners that tiger trout love to gobble up.

Bait, apparently, doesn’t work as well, so you can leave the worms at home.

A nice feature of Deer Creek Reservoir is its accessibility for anglers with limited mobility. A trail goes all around the reservoir, lined with pit toilets and picnic tables. Two docks are completely handicap accessible. The reservoir, however, has no overnight camping, so plan on camping elsewhere.

The beautiful mountain scenery around Deer Creek is an added bonus to a great day fishing for tiger trout, so grab that rod and give landing a tiger trout a try. ISI