Montana’s Deadman’s Basin is teeming with large muskies. The past four records were caught from the reservoir.

Just before Labor Day, Leo Cantin landed a 38-pound, 12-ounce tiger muskellunge. It was a whole 7 pounds heavier than the current standing record. This is the third time in three consecutive years the record has been broken. Cantin’s muskie was officially certified October 10.

In 2011, Dan Weil caught a 31.3 pound muskie from the same reservoir. It measured 49 inches long. In 2010, Jesse Sanchez caught a 30-pound, 48.38-inch muskie, also from Deadman’s Basin Reservoir. And in 2006, Marty Storfa held the record for a short time with a 28.87-pound muskie. He beat a record set in 1994.

Regional Fisheries Manager Kim Frazer said tiger muskie were stocked at Deadman’s in 1998-1999 and again in 2010-2011 as biological control of suckerfish that were overpopulating the reservoir. Muskies have a varied diet, including many game fish, but they prefer suckers. The suckerfish population has dropped off since the introduction of the predator.

Many of the tiger muskie in the reservoir have simply grown to be that large as they get older. Frazer said they are a long-lived fish, but Frazer predicts that soon record catches will drop from the reservoir as those fish die off.

The reservoir was able to be restocked again in 2010-2011 because of donations from various organizations such as Walleyes Unlimited, Walleyes Forever, Pike Masters and Magic City Flyfishers, according to Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Fisheries Biologist Mike Ruggles. Combined, the groups donated 50 percent of the funds needed to purchase the stock from a private hatchery. Five years prior to that, a large outbreak of VHS (Viral hemorrhagic septicemia) mandated a moratorium on fish movement.

While Cantin’s catch is impressive, it still needs a few more pounds to beat the world record tiger muskie of 51 pounds, 3 ounces, caught by angler John Knobla in Michigan in 1919.

Image courtesy of Leo Cantin

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