Ok, Iím here to pick the brains of pond boss members. Iíve got 10 Tiger Muskie that are 13-16Ē long. Iím planning to divide them into 2 groups of five and put them into 2 different 4í x 4í x 4í cages off my dock. My goal is to train them to feed on cut bait. Iíve got a trout farm up the road where I get fresh frozen trout remains every week. Plenty to feed a few Muskie. My questions are..... 1) will they eat cut bait? And 2) how do I go about feeding it to them?
In my mind I assume they will eat cut bait because Iíve heard of people catching both pike and pure Muskie on cut bait. So that puts me at question #2.... For a few days I plan to just throw the cut bait in and see if theyíll eat it off the bottom. When I began throwing trout remains to catfish, they were smashing it on the surface in days. Can I expect a similar response with Muskie? Or would I be better served to somehow suspend the cut bait in the cage as if I were fishing it under a bobber, but without a hook? And if I choose to suspend the bait for training purposes, does anyone have any ideas how to do such?
Anyway, I wanted to start this thread so I could chronicle my results and share with others that may attempt such a task.
Adventuresome, lofty, aspiring project. Good idea but maybe not achievable. IMO you will need to be quite creative to accomplish this with success. The problem as I see it is, the muskie are not a behaviorally aggressive fish as is LMB or HSB. Muskie do chase food but not to the same type predatory behavior as a bass. Muskie are more of a lie & wait, watchful predator rather than a moving stalker/hunter as is a bass. For your sake and project, I hope I am wrong. IMO Muskie approaches food differently than a bass.
I think I would first get the musky to adapting to live/survive in a cage,,, which will be a big challenge. Their mentality is to first likely to eat the other sibling/partners until they are the sole inhabitant of the cage. No2 - will be to get them to eat and remain healthy before they develop health problems such as fungus. No3 - I would start first by feeding them live fish. Get them eating asap. Then when you see them attacking the added live food as soon as it is added to the cage, the muskie are close to accepting anything that wiggles & sinks into the cage.
I am very interested in your project and give you high marks for thinking of trying it. I hope it works! Keep us updated.
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Are your cages built? I would think you'd benefit from having a larger space (6x6x4). The length of your juvenile muskies will likely be approaching 50% of the "run" you're planning fairly soon. Given Bill's advice on getting them to eventually strike what's dropped in their cage, you'll want space to avoid injury from other fish and the cage itself.
Not a perfect comparison, but I can't imagine feeding/growing five young 6" LMB in 20" cube.
I'd love to see you get it to work out so I may someday copy you!
Well, I'm glad you guys brought this up. Some of these objectives have already been tackled, in a sense. Last fall, a certain dentist that used to frequent this board and I bought 24 Tiger Muskie. Since then they have been in a 6' circumference tank in his basement (1000 gallon or so). He only had one casualty due to it getting stuck on the lip of the tank. They've been eating FHM all winter. He is releasing his in his quarry and we are going to attempt feed training mine in cages. Bill was concerned about cannibalism, as were we. But that hasn't seemed to be an issue. Maybe moving them to a square cage will make it an issue. But I'm hoping not. And they do associate food with people now. So a couple of those hurdles have been addressed.
My plan is to throw them in the cages and monitor them. If cannibalism begins I'll either move them to the grow out pond, or release them in my larger pond. Ideally, I'd like to get them trained within a couple months and then move them to my grow out pond for a year or so.
Thanks for responding to this post. All input is appreciated.
Okay if the muskie are already in a tank environment then adapting them to cage life should be no problem. They are eating and healthy and feeding - so no problem. I would try to see if they will eat small live sunfish. Then experiment with injuring the introduced live fish so they swim like a dead piece of fish to eventually imitate fish guts.
My initial guess is the smaller muskie are males and larger ones females.
Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/21/1809:50 AM.
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Any possibility of using a large round cage for feed training? My gut feeling is that you would get better results.
I would try that, but I'm borrowing the good dentist's cages, and they aren't round. I'm too cheap and lazy to make round ones
Yes Bill, I plan to trap some RES and throw them in, in an attempt to hold off cannibalism until they are used to the cage and are willing to attempt cut bait. I believe I'm going to attempt hanging two pieces of cut bait from the lid of the cage, attached to a modified hook that is suspended from a steel leader. I will cut 4" x 4" holes in the lid and hang them from the framing of those holes. This way I can pull them up and monitor feeding activity. I may even leave a couple inches of slack in them so I can attach a float and monitor their feeding activity. If they begin hitting the cut bait as soon as I put it in the cage I'll know I have them trained. I'll be heading to Lincoln tomorrow to get the cages. I'll try to post pictures and videos as I progress.
Fish are going to be flighty when you approach from above that will cut into their interest in feeding.
You could hold the cut bait with a small alligator clip tied to fishing line and wiggle it in front the musk to get them to take it. At some point you want to be able to simply drop pieces in. Feeding method for the pike family just does not work well with feeding small chunks requiring fish to turn around to eat more pieces in rapid succession.
You might as well be hand feeding them which can be done.
Aquaculture Cooperative Research / Extension Lincoln University of Missouri
Just going to update this post to chronicle my efforts, albeit most likely failed efforts. None the less, there may be some things we can all learn from it. I'll start with video of my grow out pond and cages. Then a video of the transfer and some photos. Again, we have taken these from a tank in Bruce Condello's basement where they have been eating FHMs. The second day I had them in the cages (8 TM per cage) I put 11 bullfrog tadpoles in one cage. The next day only 2 remained. So the good news is is that I have them feeding. Now I'd like them to progress to cut bait, or trout from a local commercial trout farm. The plan is to start hanging live tadpoles or sunfish from alligator clips suspended from floats. Then progress to hanging cut bait from the clips. We are only on day 3 now.......
Quick question here. I have the photobucket extension 'fix' added to chrome at home so i can see all the old photobucket pictures from old posts. At work I can see in the post above that below the youtube embedded links in NEDOCs post there are some pictures posted too. At home I can't see those pictures.
I also noticed in wbuffetjrs recent posts I can't see the pictures from home but can from work. NEDOC and WBuffet, are you using photobucket for recent image hosting? or is maybe my chrome browser having trouble with another photohosting service?
Crazy that I can see at work but not at home in my chrome browser?
I think I made a significant break thru today. After a text conversation with TJ today he suggested using worms. By the time I got to my third worm the musky were trained and hitting it within 20 seconds. Now I can thoroughly get them to associate food with alligator clips or me throwing items in the water. I plan to train them to respond to both having worms on clips and me throwing worms in the water. Then I hope to add a sound such as a bell to feeding time so they will have another sense to associate with food. Iíll try to convert them to chunks of trout that I have access to over time. No idea how I will introduce the fish to my large pond and keep them on the diet Iíve trained them on but Iíll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Awesome experiment it has been facinating to watch your progress! How cool would it be to have a small group of Tigers come running to the dinner table when you call! How many Tigers do you have they are going to take over your pond like a school of sharks! Lol
OK, so for the few of you that have been following this, here are some updates. As you saw above I began by training my muskie by putting worms on alligator clips under a float. That worked rather quickly. Then I attempted to progress to having them take it off of an alligator clip while jigging. That got frustrating at times. But yesterday I turned the corner on that..... big time. I went from getting them to hit the worm aggressively and regularly while jigging, to having them hit strips of tilapia and trout while jigging, to hitting strips of tilapia while falling through the water column. So without further ado, here is my video chronicle.....
Hitting worm while jigging...
My project advisor and top muskie trainer feeding a fillet of tilapia stripped out and jigged/swam.....
Hitting a strip of trout....
And what I was hoping to evolve to is having them hit strips of meat as I throw it into their cage. In this case it was a strip of tilapia. And they were only hitting about 50% of the ones I threw in. But 1) they may have been full and 2) it'll take some acclimation.
Ultimately, I'd like to progress to something like this. Keep in mind this is a feeding of my catfish....
NEDOC, this is so awesome! Thank you for sharing. I have high hopes they will continue to progress in their feeding. Might get to the point I fella would be nervous about putting his hand too close to the cage! :-)
Better to shun the bait than struggle in the snare. - William Blake