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Is This the Biggest Muskie Ever Caught in Illinois?

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:

Chicago Sun-Times

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.’’

It all started with a Double Cowgirl spinner in about four-feet of water, and ultimately ended with a Musky Buster lure and one muskellunge with a head the size of a tool box.

“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


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Is This the Biggest Muskie Ever Caught in Illinois?