Who says there aren’t any big fish in Wisconsin?
Very recently, a small trio were fishing for walleye out of a pontoon boat on Lake Michigan. They were having very little success, but their luck shifted in an instant when a huge fish was on their line.
After an intense, 30-minute battle, the pike was in the net, and that is where the story ends. What happened in the meantime is something none of the men in the boat will ever forget.
Jay Renstrom was fishing with his father Jack and Onalaska neighbor Marv Sage on July 25, 2015. As the small group rigged up another rod to fish a reef, the huge northern pike hit the walleye rod. It was rigged only with six-pound line and no leader. The elder Renstrom knew right away it was a big fish.
“He just told me just to hold it for a couple of minutes while he put another rod out,” he said. “That’s when I hooked that northern, and I cranked away, upside down and around and up in the air and every which way, and they were laughing at me.”
Halfway through the fight, he handed off the rod to his son to finish it off.
“I still wasn’t sure we had a fish because it was just real heavy, you could just barely move it up and plus we were only fishing with six-pound fireline, so it was really light tackle,” said Jay. He actually just bought his fishing license the day before.
“As soon as I would pull it up a little bit you kind of felt it tug so I go ‘Well, we’ve got a fish on, but I don’t know what it is yet,’ and then finally we all caught a glimpse of it. We thought for sure it was a muskie because the color is the same, but we couldn’t see a closeup of it yet.”
By this time, the huge Wisconsin pike was barely hooked. It was now up to Sage to handle the net duties.
“I got about two-thirds of it in there, and then god darn fish got out of the net,” said Jack. “I thought, ‘Oh, we’re going to lose it.’ Then I lost the strength in my arms again, so I had to pass the net on to my buddy Marv Sage.”
Once the fish finally made it in the net, the hooks actually popped out. They all agreed it was nothing but plain luck they were actually able to land such an incredible fish.
They released the pike after taking a few pictures.
Rough measurements were taken back on land and estimated it somewhere in the 55-inch range and weighing approximately 35 to 4o pounds. The pike was measured against Jay’s body size, from his eyes down to below his knees, as seen in the photo.
The current Wisconsin record, standing since 1952, comes in at 38 pounds. Had this fish been certified, it very well may have been the new record.
Like they say, it’s better to be lucky than good!