A fish story

One calm autumn day off the dock at Wahnuhke we saw the glassy surface of the water broken by a couple of bumps. Thinking it must be a log floating just below the surface, we went out to retrieve it before a passing boat got damaged.

As we got close it suddenly sank out of sight. It’s probably almost waterlogged, we thought, and the ripples from our boat rolled it enough for the bumps to go under. We waited to see if it resurfaced.

Sure enough, it did. But many yards (meters) away. Then it’s alive, we said, and it’s not a log, it’s a fish, a BIG fish.

But why doesn’t it dive deeper? Why does it keep coming to the surface?

It disappeared and resurfaced numerous times for more than half a mile.

It must be injured or dying, we decided. And what fish in these waters is that big, we wondered. It’s much bigger than a pike, we thought, so it had to be a muskie.

We lost it when it got into the narrower channel and trees reflected in the calm surface hid those tell-tale bumps.

Later that afternoon Dad’s friend, whose cottage was just past the place we lost it, came to the dock asking if we had a scale so he could weigh this monstrous fish he had in his boat. Could it be….?

He said he was standing on his dock when he looked down and saw this huge muskie alongside and obviously in distress. A blow to the skull by a two-by-four sent its spirit to muskie heaven. Now he wanted to see exactly how much it weighed.

Dad’s scale wasn’t big enough, so the carcass had to be cut in half and the two parts weighed separately.

The result — just over 35 pounds. A veritable sea monster just off the dock where we swam every day!

The predatory muskellunge, the largest member of the North American pike family, is at the top of the fish food chain in Georgian Bay. It looks and behaves like a freshwater barracuda. Only the lake sturgeon might be bigger and it is a bottom feeder, not an ambush predator like the pike family.

The reefs to the west of Wahnuhke in the autumn are known to be muskie habitat. When it got too cold for bass anglers to drop a line there, usually there would be one or two guide boats with cabins trolling on those reefs for hours in hopes of catching a big one.

When I lived in Midland in the 1960s, one boat did just that — twice! If I remember correctly, two muskies each weighing maybe 57 pounds were caught the same day, by two anglers in the same boat. We ran a photo of them in the Free Press Herald.

Farther north near the Moon River, a fish weighing 61.25 pounds (27.8 kg) was caught in November 2000. The muskie in this photo was said to be 65lbs. and caught in Georgian Bay : https://georgianbaybasshole176.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/how-to-locate-catch-large-muskies-on-georgian-bay/musky65lb/

The largest on record was caught in an inland Wisconsin lake and weighed 67 lbs. 8 oz., was over 5 feet long with a girth of 34 inches. Probably the king of that lake.

2 thoughts on “A fish story

  1. Did you always eat fish you caught? If yes, did you clean them? If no, release them back into the water? My husband used to be an avid small lake fisherman but didn’t care to eat fish because too much work to clean. So, as long as hook could be taken out safely and fish not damaged or skin coating harmed, he released them. Sounds as if the fish you are writing about are monster sizes! Husband still claims that fishing was his favourite pastime…sitting in a boat, surrounded by water, listening to the sounds of nature. Especially early in the morning.

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  2. I was like your husband. Catching fish was fun but cleaning them was not. I could never do it without collecting too many bones. Wasn’t a big fan of eating freshwater fish either, except trout and salmon. Dad could fry up bass for breakfast that were delectable. not me. Mine always tasted fishy as well as being full of bones. Yuck. I prefer fish from the ocean, like deep fried cod, pickled herring, blackened redfish, mackerel in a quiche. Yum. Also I agree about fishing as a quiet way to enjoy the natural surroundings. If I did it now, I would catch-and-release.

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