We’ve only passed the halfway mark on the calendar, but maybe we can feel comfortable calling 2013 the year of the monster fish. That’s not the title of a bad horror movie; that’s just the way things have gone so far.
In early May, Wisconsin fisherman John Grover was working the mouth of the Fox River where it dumps into Green Bay, hoping to catch some walleye, crappie, or other panfish. Using a 3-inch twister tail, Grover had something much larger and much toothier smack his bait.
After an hour-long tussle, Grover managed to bring a huge muskellunge up to the rocks, since the big fish would not fit in his landing net.
The season for muskies had not yet opened, so he measured the fish, snapped a picture, and then released it. After a minute or two back in the water, the fish flipped that powerful tail fin and took off.
According to Grover’s measurements, the fish went just over 64 inches long and had a 30-inch girth. Some biologists in Wisconsin estimated from those numbers that it might have weighed 70 pounds.
Grover said afterward that he had no idea what he had landed.
“I don’t fish for muskies,” he said. “Muskies are not my kind of fish. I fish for fish that I can keep and eat.”
If those weight estimates are accurate, the fish Grover released is a potential world record muskie. Some organizations recognize a 1949 muskie caught in the Chippewa Flowage in northwest Wisconsin as the world record, at 69.68 pounds, and that fish measured 63 inches long.
Although it was landed late in 2012, a Michigan-based world record muskie was not certified until this year. Be aware that there seems to be more fishing record outfits than boxing federations, so Joe Seeberger’s 58-pound muskie from northern Michigan’s Antrim County is recognized as the world record by the International Committee of the Modern Day Muskellunge World Record Program, a committee of anglers, muskellunge biologists, and fishing industry representatives. Seeberger’s fish went 59 inches long with a girth of 29 inches.
Kevin Wolff, another Wisconsin angler, was on his annual Canadian fishing trip this June to Lac La Matre, which sits between Great Bear and Great Slave lakes and is the third largest lake in the Northwest Territories.
Wolff had been fishing for lake trout and northern pike when he hooked and landed a potential world record silver pike — a rare, genetic mutation of the northern pike species. Silver pike have a silver-blue sheen and no spots. They have eyes that are larger than northern pike, and a straighter jaw.
Since they are so rare and are not a separate species, silver pike are not recognized in the records of many organizations, but the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame does log silver pike records. That group recognizes a 20 pound, eight ounce silver pike, also caught in the Northwest Territories, as the record for a fish that was kept by the angler. The record for a released silver pike is 48 inches, for a fish caught in Ontario.
Wolff’s fish, which he released according to the strict catch-and-release policy on the lake for fish over 10 pounds, weighed 31 pounds and eight ounces and measured 47 inches long. Had he kept that fish, it would have shattered the current record by more than 10 pounds, but Wolff indicated he is committed to releasing trophy fish, regardless of the potential fame that swims away.
In the first seven months of 2013, we’ve also seen a record catch of walleye in the Cabela’s tournament on Lake Erie, where the winner averaged better than 10 pounds per fish on his one-day, five-fish catch.
Just last month, Toledo’s Patrick Johnson took an Ohio-record common carp with a bow while fishing in Sandusky Bay. The monster carp went 53-plus pounds and measured 45 inches long, with a girth of 32¼ inches. It destroyed the previous record of 47.65 pounds.
On the saltwater side, a crew from the Outdoor Channel was filming an angling trip out in the Pacific off the coast of California, about 15 miles from Huntington Beach. They tied into a jumbo mako shark that put up a two-hour fight and peeled off close to a quarter mile of line before it could be coaxed alongside the boat.
Local media accounts put the fish at 11 feet long, with eight feet of girth, and had it weighing 1,323 pounds. That shot past the previous world record mako shark of 1,221, landed in 2001.
FISHING REPORT: Walleye fishing in the Western Basin of Lake Erie has been good in recent days with the areas northwest of West Sister Island, near the Toledo water intake, and on American Eagle Shoal southwest of Kelleys Island all producing fish, according to the ODNR. Worm harnesses, along with divers and spoons have been working for the trolling crowd, while drift fishermen are finding success with worm harnesses rigged with bottom bouncers, or by casting mayfly rigs.
Yellow perch fishing has been best near the “A” can of the Camp Perry firing range, close to the southern corners of Kelleys Island, and in the vicinity of the Toledo intake. Spreaders baited with live shiners and fished just off the bottom are the standard for perch fishing in Erie.
In the Central Basin, the perch fishing has been best off the mouth of the Huron River, and near the condominium complex east of Vermilion in 32-42 feet of water. Good catches have also been reported in 48 feet of water north of Edgewater Park and in 42-52 feet of water on the hump northwest of Fairport Harbor, and in 49 feet of water off Conneaut.
This is the final weekend of the year to fish the managed ponds and lakes at La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County. The area closes after July 29. Consult the area-specific rules for La Su An at the Division of Wildlife’s wildohio.com webpage.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6068.