When Joseph Seeberger hooked into his group’s fourth fish of the day, what he thought was another smallmouth bass, he told partners “It’s a good one.”
Boy, was it ever.
Seconds later he revised that impression.
“Oh, it’s not a smallie,” the angler from Portage, Mich., told The Detroit Free Press.
Seeberger, along with brother Chuck and friend Jason Orbeck, fought the giant muskellunge for the next two hours during which they searched on smart phones for the state record, marked their boat for measuring, broke two nets and finally had to lasso the muskie to hoist it in the boat.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed the catch a new state record Great Lakes muskellunge. Seeberger’s fish caught in Lake Bellaire measured 59 inches long with a girth of 29 inches and weighed 58 pounds, breaking the state mark by nearly 8 pounds.
What’s remarkable is that Seeberger landed the fish on 8-pound test line, which gives him a chance at being certified for a line-class world record by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
Seeberger, 41, was using a 7-inch minnow when he hooked the fish. It came to the boat in a quick five minutes, but then spooked, jumped and the fight was on.
The threesome followed the fish for two hours as Seeberger regained line after the fish’s runs. In that time, they found the record was more than 50 inches long and marked the boat. If not longer, the fish would be released.
“Where the 50 inches ended, the head began,” Seeberger said.
Trying to get it in the boat was another task. They put bass nets on each end to hoist the fish, but both broke. A dock link with a noose knot was then eased over the fish’s head, tightened and four men reached in the water to lift it. It’s now at a taxidermy shop, soon to adorn Seeberger’s wall.
The record was verified by Patrick Hanchin, a DNR fisheries biologist at the Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station and Conservation Officer Steve Speigl.
The previous state-record Great Lakes muskellunge was caught by Kyle Anderson of Rapid City, Mich., on Torch Lake in Antrim County on Sept. 27, 2009. That fish weighed 50.5 pounds and measured 56.13 inches.
"This fish shows that Michigan waters are capable of producing huge fish," Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter said. "Great waters coupled with appropriate management strategies can result in even more record fish."
For more information about fishing in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.