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Old School Dave
12-04-2006, 07:40 PM
http://img213.imageshack.us/img213/3066/20061203homuskie450nk8.jpg

The monster catch that muskie guide Howard Wagner recently released in Lake Erie was the second-largest fish he had landed and a personal first.

"I'd never gotten a big muskie on the last day of any trip," said Wagner, of Fombell in Beaver County. "It'd never happened. This fish broke that spell."

On Nov. 19 at 4 p.m., on the final day of a four day trip to Lake Erie's New York waters, Wagner boated a 53-pound, 9-ounce muskie, slow-trolling a 14-inch Legend Plow in red dace about four miles off shore.

His catch -- which he released within seconds -- was 52 1/2 inches long with 28 1/2-inch girth.

"A muskie that big around is pretty rare," Wagner said. "Most muskies have about a 24-inch girth. There's an abundance of food in Erie, an abundance of shad and shiners, that make for fish that fat. We saw schools of emerald shiners from the surface of the lake to the bottom that were 300 yards long."

Wagner said he went to New York on a tip about a particular spot, but fished another area on a hunch. "Why I decided to go to this spot, I can't tell you. I study contour maps for every place I fish and I had picked some spots where I figured muskies would be heading to spawn. I just had a gut feeling about a particular place. What it always boils down to is a gut feeling," he said.

The day was overcast with 10= to 15-mile per hour winds, air temperatures that reached the mid-40s by mid-afternoon and 48-degree water, which was about three degrees above normal.

About half an hour before the catch, Wagner released a 43-inch muskie whose girth was in the mid 20-inch range, on a walleye color Legend Plow. It would prove to be just the warm up.

"I was negotiating a turn alongside a rock bar. As I was turning to go away from the hump -- the lures probably touched close to the bottom of the hump, about 28 feet down -- a friend saw my rod bend. He saw the strike. That turned out to be the big one," Wagner said.

The fish probably had been waiting in the drop-off between the hump and the lake bottom to ambush prey. Once in the net, it shook off the plug.

"It's one of the nicest muskies I've seen -- and one of the biggest," said Jim Markham, a senior aquatic biologist with the Lake Erie Fisheries Unit of New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, who looked at photos of Wagner's catch.

"It might even have been a New York state record," he said, indicating that the 69-pound St. Lawrence River muskie that set the record 50 years ago remains clouded in controversy.

Although Wagner usually fishes the open waters of Lake Erie, the upper Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor, at the head of the river, are popular muskie destinations for Erie-bound anglers.

In recent years, though, reproduction problems have put muskies on the decline there, so much so there is a 54-inch creel minimum in Buffalo Harbor -- practically ensuring that most fish will be released -- and a 48-inch minimum on muskies from the Upper Niagara River have been instituted.

Markham said New York has never stocked any part of Lake Erie, so it is almost certain that Wagner's muskie had been bred in the lake at least 20 years ago, given its size.

The fish wasn't as long as the 54-inch muskie Wagner landed in the Allegheny River four years ago, but both were massive in size.

"That river fish had a heavy, thick build to it, too," Wagner said. "But the Erie fish had a thicker build in the last one-third of the body, near the tail section. It could be a combination of the species and the abundant forage in the lake."

And the Erie fish was in pristine condition, he said. "There wasn't a mark on it. It had probably lived its entire life in the open water."

Although Wagner's spot was a hunch, the choice of lures wasn't. "The Plow has caught more fish for me than almost any other lure, and I chose red dace because old timers 40 and 50 years ago always like red and white in cold water," he said. "It's pretty standard practice."


Now that's a big 'ski!

Grizzly Gary
12-05-2006, 10:59 AM
That sure is a big'un! Thanks for the pic OSDAVE!

Grizzly Gary

Summers
12-06-2006, 07:20 AM
WOW, What a monster...... Great catch

Mighty Mike
12-06-2006, 12:27 PM
I would crap if i saw that fish on my line. What a catch.

mike

RED DOG
12-07-2006, 02:05 PM
great catch. that had to be fun.

singleshot
12-09-2006, 05:41 AM
If you look at the fish back by the dorsal fin it looks like there is a set of hooks still set in. You didn't snag him did you? Just kidding. Nice job.

Old School Dave
12-09-2006, 08:26 AM
I have seen some nice muskies that have come out of the Grand River which flows into Lk.Erie in my neck of the woods but have never heard of anyone catching one out in the lake.
One I saw that picture all I could say is WOW.

carl milks
12-09-2006, 08:32 PM
WOW!!! What a fish! I knew they can be caught in some bays, lower creeks, ect, but I did'nt know of or ever hear of any caught in the lake- is this rare? All the thousands of miles we've trolled, never seen one out in open water.

Kinzua Man
12-11-2006, 10:20 PM
That certainly is a handful!

Kinzua Man

Outdoorsman
12-15-2006, 11:02 PM
Thats unreal. I would have had to change my drawers after landing that one.

Buck Master
12-16-2006, 10:08 PM
I sure would like to hook into a big boy like that! :shock:

I've only caught one muskie...38" in the tailwaters of Kinzua Dam :roll:

firemedic3314
12-19-2006, 11:24 PM
Now thats a big azz fish.....would love to fight that sucker....hell even just havin it follow me lure would be a thrill!!

treerat
12-20-2006, 08:48 AM
Thats one heck of a fish . nice one and released too :D

Will_S
12-23-2006, 11:52 AM
Howard Wagner is a heck of a stick when it comes to muskie fishing. For me to put fish in the boat it comes down to time on the water and to keep chuckin' those baits!