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47-Pound Muskie Caught on Iowa’s Spirit Lake

Iowa DNR

52-inch Muskie caught and released in Iowa Great Lakes.

It’s the kind of thing that makes many people second guess swimming in the water at local lakes. The Iowa Great Lakes in the northwest corner of the state are notorious for producing some large fish. This spring held true to that standard for the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery, who employs the practice of gillnetting fish each year in partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The group netted a large muskie those involved won’t soon forget.

The hatchery, which retrieves eggs from fish out of local lakes for stocking purposes, is no stranger to netting large fish with this method. Gillnetting is the practice of placing nets in the water in an effort to humanely catch a large quantity of fish. Fish swim through or near the net catching themselves on some part of their body, often the gills. The method is a common practice to catch females for the purpose of retrieving eggs or as part of species and lake specific research studies.

The large female muskellunge (muskie) was pulled from Big Spirit Lake weighed in at a scale bending 47 pounds and measured 52.3 inches in length. The fish was studied for a short period of time, though no eggs were harvested, and returned to the lake shortly after being caught, much to the dismay of many local swimmers.


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47-Pound Muskie Caught on Iowa’s Spirit Lake