Think there are no monster muskies in Iowa? Think again. Biologists with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spotted this massive 47-pound muskellunge in Spirit Lake Hatchery during a routine collection earlier in the month. Experts say that the large fish missed the state record by only three pounds.
“The current state record for muskie is 50 pounds, 6 ounces and 52 pounds, also from Big Spirit Lake,” stated the DNR. “It was caught by Kevin Cardwell of Spirit Lake in August 2000.”However, since it was caught by a DNR employee during the course of their regular duties—in this case for broodstock—it would not have been eligible for a record anyways.
“No matter who you are, when you catch a fish this big, it takes your breath away,” fisheries biologist Mike Hawkins, who was one of the workers who helped capture the large fish at Spirit Lake, told KWQC.
Hawkins added that the muskie was a spirited fighter that would have given any angler a fair fight, and still might, since it was later released back into Spirit Lake.Spirit Lake is known for its healthy population of muskie, northern pike, and walleye. Interesting enough, striped northern pike have also been spotted in the area, and just last month hatchery workers found one of the bizarrely-patterned fish right in one of the pools. According to officials, approximately one percent of the 20,000 pike in Spirit Lake are striped.
“Other states surrounding Iowa have documented this same pattern of northern pike. We have reproduced this color variation in our hatchery offspring for numerous years by crossing silver and spotted northern pike (the other two color variations in our system),” the DNR said.
Judging by the recent finds, this is certainly one hatchery to keep an eye on.
Image courtesy Iowa Department of Natural Resources