'They're gnarly': Lake Tapps and the elusive 'fish of 10,000 casts'

LAKE TAPPS, Wash. -- Lake Tapps is home to an elusive predatory fish only found in seven lakes across the state.

The tiger muskie keeps fishermen coming back for more each year, leaving many with quite the fish tale to tell.

They’re called the fish of 10,000 casts due to the challenge involved in catching them. We had to give it a shot and find out from the experts about everything involved in trying to catch a tiger muskie.

Keith Kelly and Ryan Anderton are expert fishermen who took us out on Lake Tapps.

“If you've been around fishing, this is a little different than most,” Kelly warned.

Tiger muskie is known for being elusive and feisty, and each year the sterile cross-bred fish is restocked in Lake Tapps by Washington Fish and Wildlife.

“Basically, it’s a hybrid fish. They don’t breed; they’re planted in the lake to keep carp, catfish, white fish, things like that, the population of those, down,” said Kelly. “The tiger muskie is considered a trophy fish, and people travel far and wide to catch this fish.”

You need a permit to fish in Washington but besides that, there are some other things you should know if you’re thinking about going after one of these predatory fish.

“Washington for tiger muskie is catch and release,” Kelly explained. “Only anything above 50 inches is considered a trophy fish, which you then can keep.”

With their unusually large teeth, tiger muskies require different baits and tackle than the ones used for other fish. You’ll also want the right supplies when trying to catch one, like a strong rod and line.

“It’s not worth having someone need stitches,” said Kelly. “Just bring a glove and long pliers. You’ll be fine.”

The aggressive tiger muskie keeps even the most skilled fisherman on his toes.

“I was reeling in a small, half-pound bass fish,” Kelly explained. “Right after that when I get the fish close to the boat, a tiger muskie comes up, takes the bass, dives with it and I didn’t see the bass or the tiger muskie again."

When trying to catch tiger muskies at Lake Tapps, experts say the earlier in the day the better. They also recommend the north side of the lake, which tends to be a bit warmer and house more fish.

“It’s a challenge. Not everyone can come out here and do it,” said Ryan Anderton.