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Remember Mark Cowan of Pescador Solitario (www.remoteflyfishing .com), an outfitting company and booking agency in New Mexico that caters to hard-fishing clients in search of unusual fishing opportunities? Cowan, among other things, was largely responsible for developing the fly-fishing opportunities in Chetumal Bay near Xcalak, Mexico, and he played a key role in developing U.S. anglers’ interest in the now-famous dorado fishing at La Zona in Argentina. He was also among the first to introduce U.S. fly fishers to Tanzanian tigerfish. So what is he up to now, other than creating a laid-back redfishing opportunity in South Texas that has won rave reviews from clients who like to wade-fish on their own while also having access to a boat and guide service? We’ve told you about that, but now he’s created an opportunity to target tiger muskie on the fly in the southwestern United States that is so likely to produce success that Cowan virtually guarantees anglers at least a “grab” a day, barring something unusual. Here is an edited version of the literature he has released about it:
“The tiger muskellunge is a hybrid offspring of the true muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) and the northern pike (Esox lucius). It lives in freshwater, and its range extends to Canada and to the northeastern and midwestern parts of the United States. It also occurs in isolated areas in the Southwest, and that is where I will target them on trips that I will guide personally. Tiger muskie are believed to grow one-and-a-half times faster than pure-strain muskellunge. Trophy specimens weigh about 30 pounds and upward. Their main diet is fish and small birds. Yes, small birds such as ducks! The largest muskie I know of was found dead, floating on the surface of a lake with the wing of a mallard drake extending out of its gill plate. The entire five-pound duck was stuck in its throat.
“In my experience tiger muskie are spookier than muskie and not as dumb as pike. They tend to be fatter than northern pike, and they fight harder than pike. They jump more than you would expect, too. Both the tiger muskie and the muskie are called the ‘fish of ten thousand casts’ due to the challenge involved in catching them. However, if you come with me on a tiger muskie trip and you are an average to above-average fly caster (barring seriously bad weather conditions), you will get a grab from a tiger muskie in a day of fishing. Landing it will be up to you.
“The largest tiger muskie caught to date in the lake where I guide measured 50.5 inches and weighed about 40 pounds. Large numbers of fish have been caught here in the 40- to 45-inch range. I will be guiding these trips out of a Maverick flats skiff that is comfortable in really skinny water, which means there will be some sight-fishing opportunities just after ice-out when baitfish and therefore muskie move to shallow water. For most of the season, however, the fishing will be blind casting to structure and known holding areas. Expect to make a lot of casts. Like pike and muskellunge, tigers use weed patches, rocks, stumps, and logs for cover as they ambush prey. Most feeding activity occurs during the early morning and evening hours. I believe the most productive months for this fishing are April through the middle of June and October through the middle of November. Weather permitting, I will be on the water from about mid-April to the end of the first week of May. I’ll be back on the lake from about May 25 to June 10. I will be back again for a while starting around mid-October. I expect to catch the largest fish during the latter time period when pre-ice gorging is occurring.
“I plan to take only two clients at a time, and my 2014 price is $490 per day for the boat (one or two fishermen). That includes your guiding, boat, and lunch. It does not include lodging or dinners, which I will tell you about at time of booking. I only take fly fishermen.” Don Causey Note: Cowan’s e-mail address is [email protected], and his phone number is 575-758-9011. If you go on one of these trips, be sure and file a report.