By Larry Ramsell, Field Editor
On November 28, 2008, at around 5 p.m., there was a monumental occurrence in the musky world that proved outsized giants truly exist. Dale MacNair of Ottawa, Ontario, fishing with his girlfriend/fishing partner Julie Cashaback and friend Sal Rotolo on the St. Lawrence River, captured and released a muskellunge of epic proportions — they teamed up to land, measure and release a 57-inch long by 33-inch girth behemoth.
The musky was not weighed but the length and girth measurements were carefully taken with the fish lying flat, with the tape held flat. They double-checked it for accuracy, according to Dale.
Dale’s previous best was a 51 1/2-incher taken earlier in 2008, and he has only been musky fishing for just over one year. The 57-incher gobbled a 10-inch black perch-colored Jake minnowbait, manufactured by Drifter Tackle.
Dale was using a Shimano Compre 8-foot XH rod and a Shimano Tekota 600 LC reel wound with 80-pound test moss green PowerPro line. Attached to the line was a 5-foot fluorocarbon leader made by one of Dale’s fellow Muskies Canada members.
Dale explained that about two weeks earlier he and Julie had fished with Rotolo and marked a large fish on the electronics, which they waypointed. On November 28 they had had no action when they decided to go back to where they had waypointed the large fish. “The wind and current were rolling into the shoal just right, so we went back. We were about 200 yards from where we had marked the earlier fish and we spotted another large blip right on the bottom. I said to Sal, ‘We’ll find out pretty soon if that fish is hungry,’ and the words were hardly out of my mouth when the rod went off.”
Dale’s lure was running 195 feet behind the boat and approximately 16 feet down on a flat-line (no planer board). They were trolling off the edge of a shoal in 25 feet of water with deeper water nearby, flat-lining three Jakes of the same color, but of different sizes and lengths of line behind the boat. “We were trying to imitate a small school of baitfish,” Dale said. “We were using 8-, 10- and 14-inch Jakes, and she hit the 10.”
The fish fought for approximately five minutes and jumped completely clear of the water just off the stern of the boat before being netted by Sal, while Julie kept the boat off the shoal.
Dale related that to see this massive aberration arising from the deep in the exceptionally clear water of the St. Lawrence River was thrilling, to say the least. “We knew we had a big fish, but she just launched herself about 25 feet from the boat and that’s when we knew what we had,” said Dale. “What an awesome thing to see.”
The fish was hooked in the front lip, making the unhooking chore easy. Other than a brief two or three seconds after they landed it, Dale said he had no intention of keeping this fish, even after seeing its immense size and learning its measurements. He related that it was “just too clean and too healthy to keep. We just put her in the water and she turned herself right side up and was ready to go.”
Dale’s mammoth musky is possibly the heaviest publicly known to have ever been released.
Musky Hunter Managing Editor Steve Heiting also contributed to this report.
By Larry Ramsell, Field Editor