Big Tiger Flirts With Washington State Record

A big tiger musky caught and released from Lake Merwin likely surpassed the Washington state record and has created quite a stir among musky fishermen in that region.

Norman Dillon, a first sergeant in the U.S. Army and stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, boated a 48 1/2-inch hybrid that carried a 25-inch girth while fishing with friends on May 18. Various formulas for estimating the weight of a released fish place Dillon’s tiger solidly in the mid 30-pound range.

According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, the current state record is a 31-pound 4-ounce fish caught by John Bays from Mayfield Lake in 2001.

“I know there is a proposal to rewrite the state law as to how muskies are certified without having to kill them,” said Dillon, a member of the NW Tiger Pac chapter of Muskies, Inc. “I think I’m just a little too early for my fish to take advantage of the new rule that will hopefully go into effect soon. With our fish growing larger and larger, we need an updated rule on the books as soon as possible.”

Dillon was fishing with Staff Sergeant D.J. Hempler, also of Fort Lewis, and his father, Dennis Hempler of Vancouver, Washington, when he cast a Beast Teaser Stinger bucktail to shoreline cover and the largest musky he has ever caught struck. 

“We had been throwing all day with little activity. I decided it was time for a change, so I reached into my box of tricks and pulled out a lure I had won at a raffle sometime back and within 30 minutes it slammed it,” Dillon said. “We had no idea of its size until D.J. got it in the net.” 

Dillon, a 17-year Army veteran, and Hempler have been “getting as much fishing done this summer” before they are deployed to Iraq sometime this fall. “I hope this fish is a good sign for the rest of the season,” he said.

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