A bass fisherman hooked into a giant musky while fishing a bass tournament. To say that it was a surprise catch would be an understatement.
Joe Gensini has fished in bass tournaments for more than 10 years, but he earned more notoriety from an incidental catch of a massive musky than anything he's accomplished in all those years.
Gensini, who hails from Hennepin, Illinois (north of Peoria) and his fishing partner Paul Malone of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, were pre-fishing in the Cabela's North American Bass Circuit tournament in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, when Gensini hooked the big musky.
While fishing for smallmouth bass in Little Sturgeon Bay with a homemade 8-ounce, 1 1/2 -inch-long black-hair jig in 7-10 feet of water, Gensini said he felt a slight "tink."
He thought he was snagged on the drop-off until he felt the fish begin fighting back. Then, Gensini thought he had a large smallmouth on the end of his line.
"She really didn't know she was hooked," he said. "Once she realized she was hooked, she came out toward deeper water and I could finally see her in the clear water. I still didn't realize how big it was."
Landing the behemoth was a team effort that took more than an hour on Gensini's 8-pound-test line.
"Paul and I both fish a lot of bass tournaments and it's rare we get to fish together," he said. "Halfway through the fight I handed the rod off to him so I could tie up my lines and prepare myself for the day of pre-fishing. We really landed it as a team effort. I'd run the trolling motor and he'd dance around the boat, then we'd switch and he'd run the trolling motor while I danced around the boat."
Getting the fish into the boat was another can of worms.
"We didn't have a net big enough for it, so we got the head into the net and I then body-hugged the fish and got it into the boat," he said. "We then proceeded to take a video of getting the fish unhooked. It was hooked right in the corner of the mouth."
Using a neighboring boat's tape measure and digital scale, they measured and weighed the fish before releasing it. It measured 60 3/4 inches and had a 28 1/4-inch girth. The digital scale weighed it out at just over 40 pounds, although other experienced musky anglers estimated that the fish weighed much more.
"It was really a neat fish, a giant fish," Gensini said. "I've fished in Florida, California and throughout the northwoods, and I've never before seen a fish of this size. I'm not a musky hunter. I'm a tournament bass fisherman. I didn't realize what I caught until after the fact."
The featured image at the top of the article shows Malone with the giant musky, the only photograph they took that shows the entire fish.
Gensini and Malone ended up finishing in 26th, in the middle of the pack, in the bass tournament.
Big smallmouth and big muskies. Sounds like heaven.
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