Wisconsin resident John Grover, 44, hit Green Bay gold with what may be the world’s largest-recorded muskellunge.
According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, Grover was fishing near the mouth of the bay on May 9 when he came upon the large muskie. Grover had originally been casting for walleye when ended up with an unexpected hour-long fight with the fish. At first the angler thought it was just an exceptionally big specimen, but nowhere near record size.
“I didn’t really think anything of it when I caught it. I just knew it was big,” Grover said. “To be honest, I don’t fish for muskies, so I just imagined the record fish to be like 70 or 71 inches until I came in to [Smokey’s] bait shop and talked to him.”
Grover had brought the fish briefly to shore and snapped a few photos to validate his catch before releasing it back into the bay. It was those pictures that convinced the owner of Smokey’s on the Bay Baitshop, Jeff Tilkins, that Grover could have landed a record. Tilkins maintained a collection of muskie mounts on the wall and when Grover walked in, the angler knew he had them all beat.
Grover measured his fish to be just above 64 inches with a 30-inch girth. Experts believe that a muskie of that size would weigh around 72 pounds. Unbeknownst to Grover, the world record for muskie was nowhere close to 71 inches. In 1949, an angler fishing the Chippewa Flowage in Wisconsin caught a 63-inch, 69.68-pound muskie that currently holds the world record. A recent muskie catch in Michigan came in at 58 inches and 58 pounds. If Grover’s measurements were correct, than he had certainly held a world-record fish in his hands.
So how old is this behemoth of a muskellunge? According to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources biologist Steve Hogler, it could be as old as a college student.
“Based on our spotted muskie program, a fish of that size would have to be 15 to 20 years old, minimum, because they can reach the 50-inch mark in just a few years, but after that they start getting wider rather than longer.” Hogler said.
Unfortunately, the fish was caught out-of-season and was not weighed on a certified scale, so it is not eligible for the record process. Grover said he took every care to make sure the fish was released in good shape. Perhaps in time another Green Bay angler will place the giant muskie in the record books.
Image courtesy Smokey's on the Bay Baitshop