Monster muskie is club's second biggest fish ever
PUBLISHED: August 6, 2004
By Tom Watts
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
Macomb Daily photo by David N. Posavetz
Dave Helzer of Fair Haven holds a muskie he caught Wednesday measuring 51 1/4 inches and weighing 40 pounds, 7 ounces -- the second largest fish taken in the history of the Michigan-Ontario Muskie Club. Fishing partners Tom Hunt of Chesterfield Township, left, and Charlie Phillips, right, of Algonac lend a hand.
Dave Helzer knew when his fishing reel began singing Wednesday that the catch on his line wasn't normal.
"It took off running and was shaking its head, making it look like 5-gallon buckets of water were coming out of the lake," Helzer said. "We looked at each other and I said, 'We got ourselves a pig.'"
The "pig" turned out to be a 51 1/4-inch muskie weighing 40 pounds, 7 ounces -- the second largest fish taken in the 48-year history of the St. Clair Shores-based Michigan-Ontario Muskie Club.
"It's a perfect muskie," Helzer said from his lakeside home on Anchor Bay Drive in Fair Haven. "No scars -- just a perfect, healthy fish."
Helzer, who owns a drywall company, said his record muskie took a Ziggie St. Lawrence lure made by a friend, while his boat trolled at 4 mph in 16 feet of water, off Nine Mile Road in Lake St. Clair. He used a Penn 320 reel on a Planer board.
Helzer, 51, was joined by muskie club colleagues Charlie Phillips, 54, of Algonac, and Tom Hunt, 54, of Chesterfield Township.
"That fish almost schooled us," Hunt said. "We had to slow the boat down and bring in all the rods after it hit. But when we put the boat in neutral the fish started to pass up the boat. Charlie had to kick the boat back into gear. It was flashing back and forth before I netted it. Dave reached over the back and lifted it aboard.
"You should have seen him -- Dave was like a kid at Christmas."
The trio were joined by a friend, Matt Mueller of Fair Haven, on land before taking the muskie to Lakeside Fishing Shop in St. Clair Shores for the official weigh-in. Muskie Club President Brad Horton was also present.
The fishing trip marked the first time the three lifelong fishermen have sought muskie together. It is only the fourth year Helzer has fished for muskie.
Last year, Bill Maertens of Harrison Township caught a club record muskie that weighed 40 pounds, 11 ounces. The club's annual muskie tournament ends Oct. 31.
"This was a good group of guys that caught a big fish," the club's Brad Horton said. "They caught it on a hot new bait, and they got it when a cold front went through. It will be a tough fish to beat."