Fishing News: World Record Muskellunge
By: Steve Wickens
Publication: Muskies Canada.
Issue: April/May 2001
Over the years, nothing is more frustrating than seeing fish liek the existing 65 pound Canadian record caught as "flukes". Yes, it's true. Ken O'Brien, and his two friends were trolling for "whatever would bite" back on that fateful day in October 1988 on the Moon River. Even as he pulled up to the dock, he had not the foggiest idea of exactly what it was he had lying on the floor of his boat. Too many times, mukie die-hards across North America have seen this same tale repeated over and over again.
But on November 26th, 200 - the muskie gods got even. Long time muskie angler, and form Muskies Canada member Martin Williamson and company, hauled aboard the second largest muskie ever landed from Canadian waters. Weighing an impressive 61 pounds and 4 ounces, this fish appears to be a freak. At 53½" long with a 31 ½girth, the fish would not constitute a legal fish under the new provincial regulations on Georgian Bay in effect for 2001, AND was a full 4½" shorter than the O'Brien muskie. Give this fish those extra 4»", and we're looking at a no-contest world record of 70 pounds or better.
It is exactly this thought that has Martin Williamson even more motivated than ever before. Martin and his friends Lorne Yurichuk and Richard Garas have all landed their share of big fish from the Georgian Bay... at least half a dozen weights well in excess of 40 pounds. But Martin had steadfastly refused to keep one of these giants... he long ago stated that a fish destined for the wall had to be 60 pounds. He has that fish, and a place in fishing history. Is he content to take it easy? Nope. Martin now firmly believes that there are much bigger fish out there, adn he feels that his colossus only proves it.
Martin has been a disciple of deep water trolling on Georgian Bay since 1975. He strongly feels that the biggest fish are down deep, and are often located adjacent to deep water points and shaols. It is this reason that Martin and friends practice a zig-zag approach to working these structures. Lines are kept as short as possible to keep maximum control of the baits. As structure is encountered, a sharp cut-away is done to make the baits suddenly change direction and speed out into open water. This tactic has produced most of their larger muskies.
The big girl of October was sitting just off a deep shoal in 50 feet of water. Martin's bait, a 16 inch custom-made pikie minnow knock off, called a "Goliath was running some 25 feet down when this huge fish struck.
Martin has a fairly unique way of setting-up his bait to attain the required depths needed to produce on Georgian Bay. A 3 foot wire leader is attached from his line to a torpedo-shaped 9 ounce stainless steel sinker. A second 3 foot leader runs from the sinker to the bait. With a relatively short amount of line out (35 to 40 feet), Martin is able to run baits in the 20 to 25 foot range. The heavy weight also causes the bait to rise and fall in the water as speed changes resulting from those zig-zag turns.
Despite the relative absence of current in the open waters of Georgian Bay, Martin believes that a slow trolling speed is the most productive, opting for a speed in the 1½ to 2 mph range. Martin feels that huge muskies are downright lazy, and simply won't chase as a fast moving bait, especially in late fall as water temperatures drop.
Martin's philosophy regarding best fishing times is that you can't catch a fish if you're line isn't in the water. Although Martin only fishes the area for muskies in the fall, he fishes a variety of conditions in the fall. Locating baitfish, and noting baitfish patterns is particularly important. Martin has found the best action when schools of ciscos and gar pike begin congregating and moving towards shore. On November 26the, Martin and his two friends arrived on the water at roughly 10:00 am., and were soon aboard Martin's 22 foot Crestliner. One hour later, at almost exactly 11:00 am., Martin's Diawas Sealine trolling reel was screaming under the weight of a huge muskie. By 11:15, the big female was in the net, and the trio were struggling to drag her massive bulk into the boat. And a short time later at 11:30 am., the group were headed back to shore.
While Martin is a believer in big baits for big fish, he also belives that gear that is too heavy can cost you fish. His preferred line of choice is Diawa Samurai 30 pound test monofilament. He finds this line has very good abrasion resistance, handles the cold temperatures well, and has a fairly thin diameter to allow baits to achieve grater depth. The matching Diawas Sealine rel offers a line counter feature which Martin finds very important for determining the precise location and depth of his bait. A medium-heavy Shimano trolling rod completes Martins outfit. The rod has a fairly solid backbone, but a soft tip so that you can see what the bait is doing and how it is running.
While the big "Goliath" that has his friend Lorne hand builds is his favourite bait, Martin is also partial to the large Kwikfish bait as well, due to its fantastic actioin. The big "Goliath" is an interesting colour pattern worth mentioning - a black back and yellow belly. Is this "Goliath" to be retired? Martin seems unsure, but it sure looks that way.
After 25 years on Georgian Bay chasing big muskies, Martin had some advice for other anglers wanting to venture out on the Georgian Bay in search of a record breaker. He noted that persistance and tenacity are two important character qualities worth having or building on. Contacting big fish can often be registered in days not hours. And, big muskies will hit when you are least ready. Learning the water one piece at a time is another important point. This is a huge expanse of water, and one that must be taken VERY seriously. There are plenty of shoals and reefs to catch your lower unit and propellor if you aren't alert. And you must also be aware of water levels, which can fluctuate considerably and expose structures that might otherwise not be a problem. Martin also pointed out that this is big open water.. not a place for small car-top aluminums. As such, it is deserving of respect from a safety perspective.
The last tip Martin offered up is that in areas where a huge fish as been encountered, he has frequently found other fish in the same area, especially if high concentrations of baitfish are in the area as well. In fact, Martin believes that huge muskies actually travel in pairs. He has had multiple strikes from enormous fish in the same area on multiple occasions. On the day this monster was boated, cottagers reported seeing another huge fish wallowing on the surface on the back side of their boat. Martin, Richard and Lorne were so busy getting this big hawg into the net and aboard that non of them noticed the huge fish on the surface behind them. Huge muskies in pairs? Can you imagine boating two potential 60 pound fish in one day? Martin thinks it could happen.