There are many things people don't know about the state of Oklahoma, but even I didn't know this before yesterday.

There is a place in Oklahoma that serves as home to one of America's greatest aquatic predators, the muskie. Often measured in lengths of feet with a huge mouth full of big sharp teeth, this is one species I always thought I'd have to road trip to Minnesota for, but they're housed within our borders.

First, let me say this... Technically it's the tiger muskie species. Lab-created, sterile, and not naturally occurring in our native waters... but then again, there's not a single natural lake in the entire state, so it's keeping with tradition.

Tiger muskie look incredible. I'm surprised someone hasn't made boots with that skin yet. Found only in one lake in the state way out in the panhandle near Kenton, literally almost to the New Mexico border. It's the humble Lake Carl Etling tucked neatly away inside the Black Mesa State Park and Nature Preserve, and the tiger muskie has a storied past up on that mesa.

Why did they put muskie in Oklahoma?

It started back in the 1960s. Northern Pike was introduced into this lake to create more sport fishing opportunities, and controlling the populations of other less desirable fish was on that same docket.

For over thirty years, it was a successful program that made Carl Etling a frequently traveled destination to catch a northern fish within our borders, but in the long run, Mother Nature took it all back.

The 90s came and a deep drought set in. The waters receded and the pike were intentionally killed off to protect what was left of the native species in the lake.

....and the muskie?

Fast forward to 2016, the lake bounced back. At that same time, a new proposal hit the government grind asking permission to introduce the hybrid tiger muskie species into the lake to once again help control unwanted species and give some great angling opportunities.

The government allowed it.

These new sport fish can be better regulated because they're raised in a lab and can't reproduce on their own. (insert Jurassic Park quote about life finding a way)

Anglers are excited because these fish are huge and very predatory, so the fight is something every angler should experience at least once. The population is doing so well in Lake Carl Etling that they've removed the harvest limits for these fish.

Google Maps
Google Maps

While not the kind of place you can drive to and fish in a day, it's certainly a cool destination to get away for a few days. Now, what do tiger muskies bite on?

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