World Record Muskie Caught On St. Lawrence Off Gananoque

Now here is a great story about a monster fish landed, photoed and released by an angler… Then he went to the taxidermy-man with the photos and he ordered a composite wall fish made to size and spec and hand painted…

The fish was caught on November 28th, 2008 at 5:00 pm by Dale MacNair of Ottawa.

Way to go McNair!

Monster Muskie May Have Been a World Record

The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal - 02.14.2009 - BY Gord Ellis

Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, is a day that Dale MacNair, of Ottawa, will never forget. While many people throughout the province had hung up their fishing rods, or were chasing deer or moose, MacNair was thinking muskie. On that blustery November day, MacNair, his girlfriend Julie Cashaback, and their friend Sal Rotolo, tangled with a muskie that may have been an all-tackle world record. It almost certainly would have beaten the present Ontario record muskellunge weight of 65 pounds. Yet MacNair chose to release the fish of a lifetime.

The trio was fishing late in the season, and it was their last chance to hit the St. Lawrence before the river froze over. There was a new moon, which meant the muskie were likely going to be more active. With air temperatures below freezing, the three hardy anglers started fishing at 1 p.m. and had full expectation of staying out all night. Several hours passed with no fish. With evening close, they decided to change their strategy.

In an effort to imitate a small school of fish, the anglers decided to troll three black-perch Jake baits off the 40 Acre Shoal, near Gananoque. "We decided we were fishing all wrong," says MacNair. "We put down a set of lures that would look like fleeing baitfish." Using Shimano line counter reels they staggered the lines from 165 to 195 feet behind the boat. The anglers also used a variety of lures sizes, from 6 to 14 inches, with MacNair running a 10 inch Jake. While trolling in 25 feet of water, they spotted a large mark on the bottom of the river with their graph. It was similar to a "super tanker" sized fish the trio had marked in the same area on an earlier trip. The consensus was the mark was of a huge muskie. MacNair says he looked at Rotolo and said "we'll know in 30 seconds whether it is a fish or not." The words were hanging in the air when the fish hit and MacNair's bait cast reel clicker sounded off.

This was no ordinary hook up. The fish was obviously enormous, and was staying deep. Howling winds and large waves made the situation dangerous for the boat and anglers. As MacNair fought the fish, they were being pushed closer to the large rocks splashing on the shoal just 20 feet away. Rotolo and Cashaback pulled their lines in while MacNair fought the muskie. When the line suddenly went limp, MacNair thought he'd lost the brute.

"I said, 'it's gone' and started reeling in my line," he says. "Then I felt two head shakes and it launched into the air." MacNair says the muskie was just 25 feet from the boat when it jumped and then took sharp left turn, peeling line. By this time, it was so dark a set of flood lamps on the boat was flipped on. These lights illuminated the water, allowing the anglers to more easily see the fish and the reef.

"Seeing that huge fish jump and then swim by us in the clear water is something I'll never forget," he says. "It reminded me of 'Jaws'."

MacNair says after seeing the fish, they knew it likely was a record sized muskie. A controlled chaos ensued. MacNair worked the now thrashing muskie close the boat, while his two partners scrambled to get the net and a camera ready. His girlfriend Julie initially had the net, but soon passed it over. Amazingly they got the big fish on the first try and without incident.

"There was no thrashing. It was like she new she was going to be released," he says. The muskie measured 145 centimetres long (57 inches), with a girth of 84 centimetres (33 inches). A few pictures were taken and then the fish was released. MacNair says the muskie sat on the surface for a moment, then with a slap of its tail, slipped under the waves. The anglers stayed in the area for several minutes, to be sure the fish was gone. "We decided to pack it in after that," says MacNair. "It was going to be a tough fish to top." Using a formula that calculates an approximate weight of a big muskie (length times girth divided by 25 minus 10) the fish was estimated to be 65 1/4 pounds. MacNair, an avid trophy hunter who has seen his fair share of big muskie, considers that number conservative.

The present Ontario record muskie weighed 65 pounds and measured 58 inches in length with 30.5 inches in girth. Toronto's Ken O'Brien caught the fish on Oct. 16, 1988, in Georgian Bay's Blackstone Harbour in the Moon River Basin. Some consider O'Brien's fish the world record muskie, while the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisc., lists Louis Spray's 69-pound 1949 Wisconsin-caught fish as the world record. There is some debate within the muskie fishing community about the actual size of the Spray fish.

"I've had some knowledgeable muskie people say my fish may have topped 70 pounds," says MacNair. "It certainly would have beaten O'Brien's fish. All I know is I would never kill a big fish just because it was a record."
MacNair is, however, enjoying his moment as the muskie fraternities favourite potential record holder. MacNair was invited to speak at the recent Chicago Muskie Show, the largest muskie event of its kind and has been hanging with the muskie fishing legends. "Larry Ramsell (the muskie historian) drove up to see me, slept on my floor, and then drove back home the next morning," MacNair says with a laugh. He has also been doing other appearances with an impressive mounted replica of his trophy fish. MacNair says he hopes to hang the replica in his home, although he notes the enormous mount will take up nearly a whole wall.

Biologists believe the muskie was a female and was anywhere from 20 to 25 years old. MacNair says the muskie was likely a deep water fish, and had no scars or marks on it. He says the muskie released well, and did not show any signs of stress, due in part to the 38 degree Fahrenheit water it was caught in.

"I'm glad some of those big fish genetics are still going to be out there,"he said.

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