This muskie could have been an Illinois state record had it not been released.
A man in Illinois caught an absolute monster of a muskie that may have been a state record. The problem is, he’ll never know for certain if it was or not!
Nick Wechet and his fiancée Nicole Malkowski were fishing from the shores of the Fox River near Carpenterville on Tuesday morning when the monstrous muskie struck a devil head spoon close to shore. After a fairly short fight, he was able to get the fish in where photos were quickly taken.
There was just one problem. The couple didn’t have a measuring tape or scale on them. So they can only estimate the muskie’s length at 50 inches. Wechet released the fish.
A few days later and news of his catch was still buzzing near where he caught the monster fish. “Aw, man! Everybody at work was congratulating me and patting me on the back,” Wechet said. “I felt like I was a celebrity while I was working at Mendard’s that day.”
Of course, questions began to spread as people wondered if the fish could have been a state or river record. But Illinois doesn’t keep records for individual bodies of water, so one can only speculate about the fish’s possible state record status.
Illinois’ current record is a 38 pound, 8-ouncer taken back in 2002 in the Kalkaskia River in Shelby County. If Wechet’s muskie was indeed 50 inches, it would have definitely been in close contention for the title.
But, even if scales and a tape were available, it seems Wechet’s fish wouldn’t have been eligible anyway. The Northwest Herald reports a fish has to be killed to be eligible for the record book. Not that it seems to matter to Wechet.
“After I let it go, I sent pictures to some friends and they told me I was crazy for letting it go,” Wechet told the Northwest Herald. “I didn’t really know what to do but I figured it would be to have respect for the fish and to let it go. I had respect for the fish.”
Whatever the size of this monster, it’s probably a safe bet the Fox River will see a few more muskie anglers than normal this spring however!