Possible World Record Muskie Released
By James T. Smith, Field Editor
"Alive and Well in Georgian Bay"
It was Canadian;Victorian Day, May 21st in 1990. A pleasant Monday afternoon, John "Jim" Czarnowski and his friend and fishing partner Ken Wells of Troy, Michigan were trolling for walleye and northern pike in Georgian Bay, west of MacTier, Ontario. Actually, Jim is from Arvada, Colorado. But he used to live in Troy and he and Kenny have vacationed and camped in the Moon River area for a number of years.
Georgian Bay of Ontario's Lake Huron is a well known name to big;fish fishermen. Especially MUSKIE fishermen. There have been a number of trophy muskies caught from these waters. In fact, the 1989 Canadian record, a 65# trophy, was caught right in the next bay Blacks Stone Bay. Just a side light to that story: the fish had been caught the day before but was not brought in for official weight certification for 24 hours. It is estimated that had the fish been weighed at the time of catch it could have been a 75# record. But, this was a walleye and northern pike fishing trip as the muskie season would not open until June 16th. After all, Moon River is noted for trophy size muskie, walleye, northern pike and bass. The scenic Moon River Falls are renowned for the spring walleye run. Jim and Kenny were in hot pursuit of some good fishing.
Jim and Kenny were in Kenny's boat, a Lone Star aluminum, 22 footer with a 150 h.p. outboard and their 10 h.p. trolling motor. They had been staying at Sunset Point Resort in Healey Lake. They had motored out a ways in Moon River Delta and started trolling around the lake and then into Woods Bay where they passed the inlet to Captain Allen Straits.
Jim was trolling a Mepps, Aglia #5 Original French Spinner silver blade. He was using Trilene (Green) 17# monofilament, a Berkley Bionix Medium Action X15, 5'6" rod and an ABU Garcia Ambassadeur XLT reel. A pretty normal set up for this day's fishing expedition. But what was to happen would not be normal for any day's fishing, expedition or not. What was about to happen would be the thrill of a lifetime, last about fifteen minutes and become the epitome of defeat all in the same time.
It was almost 1:00 in the afternoon. The weather was broken clouds and slightly overcast. The water temperature was cold, about 58 degrees. They were in about 14 feet of water. There was a slight chop on the water. They were trolling around 2 knots when it hit.
There wasn't much of a fight. The big old female dragged the boat around and out of Captains Alen Straits back into Woods Bay. Pretty soon she just rose up to the surface next to the boat like a submarine. Kenny made a couple of passes with the 36" net with a 4' handle and missed the huge fish. Things were beginning to get exciting now as both men could see what was truly a monster fish. Unfortunately the net was too small for the big fish. As Kenny finally corralled the big fish and hauled it into the boat he slipped and fell. The huge muskie went "nut so" both Jim and Kenny were in a state of utter confusion. Jim had taken a position on the platform and Kenny attempted to subdue the big fish. The fish about tore Kenny up, the boat was a disaster. Kenny ended up the fracas with cuts and bruises all over and they thought they might have to take him to the hospital. Even Jim's rod had been broken by the fish thrashing around in the boat, ironically not from landing the monster. It took a while for the huge fish to calm down. Finally, Jim came down from his perch and took out his Southbend 50# spring scale to attempt to weigh his catch. The scale has a dial face that only goes to 50 pounds. Jim picked the fish up on the scale and Kenny read it. The pointer had gone completely around the dial face and past the 50 mark. In fact, it had gone around again to the 28 mark. Could this mean Jim had caught a new world record muskie? It looked like a 78# NEW WORLD RECORD.
Well, now the reality of what had just happened was beginning to set in. Since muskie season would not open for nearly three and a half weeks, it was obviously not going to be a legal catch. So they took a couple of pictures on Jim's little Kodak110 and released the monster muskie. In all the frantic excitement they never taped the length or girth to even consider verifying the huge fish. Jim ended up with only his two photos. There were some folks in another boat watching all the excitement and apparently they were able to take some pictures of the fish, but those photos have not been located. The important thing about those photos is that they were apparently taken from the stem of the boat which would have shown the massive thickness of the fishes wide body. It would help to verify a possible weight range.
From the photos you see here, the fish appears to be between 64" and 66" long. Jim is 5';8" and in the one photo the fishes tail is well below his knee while the head is nearly flush with Jim's head.
If we refer to some formulas such as estimating the approximate weight of musk's using the formula "girth x girth x length divided by 800, we come up with some interesting figures. Take the Louie Spray record 69# 11 oz. The fish had a 31 1/4" girth and was 63 172" long. Art Lawton's 69# 15 oz. world record was 64 1/2" long with a 31 3/4" girth. So if we assume that this fish was 64" long (on the short side) and had a 31" girth this would support a fish of 76.88#. What is scary is that by adding one inch to this fishes girth we now have a fish weighing 81.92 pounds.
Another formula often used as a weight formula "length x length x length (in inches) divided by 3900. So if we again go back to the shorter 64" estimated length and using this formula this would result in an estimated weight of 67.22# or less than the world record. If we add the 2" for a possible length of 66" then the weight would be around 73.72#.
I especially like the chapter in Larry Ramsell's book, A "Compendium"' of Muskie Angling History, where he discusses THE COULD HAVE BEENS, SHOULD HAVE BEENS, MIGHT HAVE BEENS, LEGENDS AND HOAXES. He couldn't conclude any verified weights on any fish that anyone could certify and I know I can't. However, I do know that this fish was no hoax. You can see for yourself, these are photos of a real monster muskie. I personally interviewed Jim in his home recently and looked over his broken tackle, borrowed his negatives for these photos and know this man had an experience that will last a lifetime.
The fact is that even if this fish had been caught during the legal season and the weight certified, but was short of the magical "70" pound mark, it still was a WORLD LINE CLASS .RECORD. This fish would have easily taken any line class from 15# up in the Muskie Power Trolling Subdivision
But, the thrill of this story is this, that muskie was released alive. That muskie is alive and well somewhere in Georgian Bay. It is two years older, fatter, longer and looking for a Mepps No. 5 or some other wonderful tidbit. The other major bit of information to deal with is that if that Canadian record had been weighed and certified at the time of the catch rather than 24 hours later, it would be your new world record today. The other fact is that both of these fish were caught from the same waters within a few miles of each other. Just in different bays within Lake Huron. Is it possible that we might have discovered a new MUSKIE "honey hole" as our bass fishing friends call it?
What does Jim have to say about all this excitement. Well you would have to know this dedicated fisherman. He thinks he had a new world record muskie in his hands. He released the fish alive, partially because he figured it would be confiscated and also because no record keeping body would have accepted a fish taken out of season. Jim is a member of the Colorado Chapter of Muskies, Inc. and subscribes to the "catch & release" philosophy. But in the RECORD MUSKIE end he is just going to have to go back there and catch another one or maybe even a bigger one. Now that he knows where she is he'll just have to drop by when she's home and persuade her again. "Jim, are you sure you wouldn't like to borrow my muskie rod, instead of using that Berkley?" Maybe I could kind of go along and help take pictures, weigh and measure ...oh...and scream and shout and get crazy watching you land another WORLD RECORD MUSKIE.
It was in August, 1993 that it was published in MUSKIE Magazine.
h2o<--I've seen them there that big and had somethings on that just tore my stuff up. Fantastic fishing area, if anyone wants to go let me know and i can tell how to get there. It's 365 miles from Royal Oak, and takes about 6-7 hours to get there.