Friday, May 25, 2018
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Monster Muskie: kid's play for teen

Young Morgillo, an able angler, car buff


Dominic Morgillo of Northwood, a student at Cardinal Stritch High School, shows off the 54-inch, 36-pound muskie he landed.


It's not every day that you reel in a 54-inch, 36-pound muskellunge, and the fishing story is even better if the fisherman is 15 years old and the boat's skipper later had to take a swim to help land a 40-inch muskie.

But that's the nub of the fish tale told about young Dominic Morgillo of Northwood and a recent muskie trip on Lake St. Clair that he took recently with his dad, Bob Morgillo, and uncle, Vince Morgillo. Here, let his uncle tell it:

"Yesterday I had the privilege of going muskie fishing for the first time," begins Vince. Fishing with Steve VanAssche of Bushwacker Charters in Grosse Pointe, the crew left the dock "bright and early, and by 9 a.m. we had the first of 12 muskies in the boat. I had the time of my life."

Note that Lake St. Clair is known for some of the best muskie fishing around, especially in terms of numbers and catch-rate. But St. Clair muskies weighing 36 pounds and stretching 54 inches are none too common. Vince said he is used to fishing for yellow perch and was a mite unprepared for the size and aggressiveness of the big, toothy muskies.

"My nephew Dominic is an accomplished fisherman who has a considerable amount of both freshwater and deep-sea fishing packed into his 15 years. Muskie fishing with Captain Steve continues to be his favorite. That is quite a comment from this athletic young man who has caught sharks, sailfish, wahoo, dolphin Fish, and I can't even begin to remember the rest."

At the call of "Fish On!!" Dominic grabs the rod. "The [reel's] drag was protesting heavily as he fought the fish for almost 20 minutes. What a trophy for this hard working young man!" After smiles and congrats all around and releasing their prize catch, they resumed trolling the monster-sized muskie plugs.

"At one point we had a big fish snap the line at the side of the boat with the huge lure firmly in his mouth. The fish was exhausted from the fight, and was now weakly floating, now fighting for its life. Captain Steve was immediately in the water and recovered this four-foot giant."

The skipper swam out about 25 feet, a net in hand, slipped the net around the fish and towed it to the transom. He removed the lure, made sure the fish was revived, and released it into the lake -- "making sure it swam away to be caught again," Morgillo said. "We released them all."

"Dominic has always enjoyed having his Uncle Vince around when we are out in the wild," said brother Bob, who lives next door in Northwood. "Vince is one of those guys who can tie any knot on the spot." As for the young angler, he is a sophomore at Cardinal Stritch High School, plays baseball and golf, and builds his and his dad's fishing rods from components.

Also, "he currently is rebuilding a 1985 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am, hoping to have it finished in time to drive to the first day of school. He turns 16 in December," said Vince. Muskie fishing and car fixing -- it doesn't get any better at that age, eh?

Western Lake Erie walleye fishing improved over the past week, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife's lake station at Sandusky. The best reports have come from northeast of West Sister Island, near D-Can and Niagara Reef off the Camp Perry firing range, and at Northwest Reef northwest of North Bass Island.

Fish have been caught by trolling with divers and spoons, and also on in-line weights with worm harnesses. Fish can also be caught by casting mayfly rigs or drifting with bottom-bouncers and worm harnesses.

Yellow perch fishing also was good over the past week, according to lake station observers. The best areas have been around the Toledo Water Intake, off Lakeside, and the southeast corner of the Kelleys Island. Anglers generally are using spreaders with shiners fished near the bottom.

Some decent catches of largemouth bass reported from the harbors and nearshore areas from Catawba to Marblehead, and smallmouth bass have been caught around South Bass Island and Middle Bass Island.

The fourth annual kids fishing tournament last weekend at Mary Jane Thurston State Park on the Maumee River at Grand Rapids brought the following winners, according to naturalist Natalie Miller

Kadie Whitehead won the ages 3 to 6 division with a quarter-pound smallmouth bass, the only fish caught in the division. Among ages 7 to 11, Lauren Okuley took first with a 4.5-pound sheepshead; Spencer Kempf took second with a 3.25-pound sheepshead, and Cooper Kempf took third with a 2-pound sheepshead. Among anglers ages 12 to 15, Garrett Kindle took first with a 4-pound sheepshead; John Wolfe took second landing a 3-pound channel catfish, and Brandon Foreman took third with a 2.75-pound channel catfish.

Miller said that prizes were sponsored by River Lures in Grand Rapids, Meijer in Bowling Green, and the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Bryan Kinter has been hired as a fisheries biologist for Ohio Wildlife District 2, which covers inland waters of northwest Ohio. A Pennsylvania native, he recently earned a master's degree from Ohio State University, where his research focused on reservoir modeling. The modeling already is proving valuable to the management of sport fish in Ohio, according to Mike Wilkerson, the district fish management supervisor.

Contact Steve Pollick at: or 419-724-6068

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