An Illinois man has just caught one of the biggest verified muskies in the state, and it could have been bigger!
When Jim Hack went to throw a few “goofing around” casts at one of his favorite lakes, he couldn’t have known what was in store for him. When the dust had cleared, he was staring at a huge Illinois muskie the likes of which has rarely or never been seen in the state.
State fisheries biologist Andy Plauck said in an e-mail to the Chicago Sun-Times, “I’m quite certain that if that fish had been caught in the spring (chock full of eggs) we would be talking about a new state record.’’
Plauck is the biologist who verified the fish’s certified weight: 35 pounds, 10 ounces, length 54 inches; girth, 22 1/2 inches. Here’s the whole brute in one fine picture:
While the Illinois record remains at 38 pounds, 8 ounces, caught in April 2002 by Matt Carmean and was 50 3/4 inches, Hack’s muskie was nearly four inches longer, had that huge girth, and was caught in the summer.
Now for the catch in Hack’s own words, starting with a lament: “I did not want to keep the fish; I am a die-hard catch-and-release guy.” But, he explained, “she just couldn’t recover. I hadn’t even taken a picture, just trying to get her back in. I did not want to kill this fish.’’
“I literally landed on her; I startled her. And she startled me. She came in like a torpedo. But she had no interest in a Figure 8. And I catch 30 percent of fish on Figure 8’s. I think she would’ve hit a hook with a fork on it. She was on that spot feeding. She hit the second or third cast. Usually it is a two-minute fight, but this was 12. She jumped. I was surprised. It was like a lumbering cow jumping. There are a lot of weeds in this lake and she kept digging in the weeds.’’
Now, about just which lake Hack was fishing…
Dale Bowman, who broke the story, said, “That’s all I have on the lake. Someday, I hope to know exactly which one. Maybe someday, Hack and I will have a beer and he will share it. Until then, the fanatics known as muskie fishermen can have a go at figuring which lake.”
Hack is obviously no stranger to muskie fishing. He was using a 6’ 6” St. Croix muskie rod with an Abu Garcia reel all set up with 100-pound test braided line and a 150-pound test mono leader.
Congratulations to Jim Hack and big thanks to him and Dale Bowman for sharing the story with the rest of us!
Photo via Chicago Sun-Times