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Muskie Pike & Muskie

New World Record Muskie

by In-Fisherman   |  February 20th, 2013 19

Some of the most beautiful country anywhere in North America surrounds Lake Bellaire, in Antrim County, Michigan. The land of Hemmingway’s youth is gripped by massive lakes like Torch, Elk, and Charlevoix that reach inland like the fingers of Lake Michigan. Stretching through rolling hills, massive dunes, and stately forests, these vast waterways are mostly clear as air and dramatically underfished.

Bellaire, connected to that chain of lakes via the Grass River, is where Joseph Seeberger (center), of Portage, Michigan, decided to sojourn with a couple friends (brother Chuck and friend Jason Orbeck) last October. On the “lucky” 13th of that month, he boated this kraken: A Great Lakes muskie 58 inches long, with a girth of 29 inches. It weighed 58 pounds. He was fishing with a sucker minnow on 8-pound test fluorocarbon—obviously not out for muskies in particular. They were, in fact, chasing smallmouth bass.

The goliath has since been recognized as Michigan’s new state record muskie, eclipsing the “old” mark by a couple of inches and 8 pounds. The “old” mark was established in 2009 by Kyle Anderson…on Torch Lake. Move over, Hemmingway. Antrim County. Home of world record muskies.

That’s right. Seeberger’s fish has now been recognized by the International Committee of the Modern Day Muskellunge World Record Program (MDMWRP) as a world record muskie. The MDMWRP, besides having too many words in its title, is made up of fisheries scientists, industry leaders, top anglers, and outdoor-media types. According to them, muskies can’t get any bigger than about 68 pounds and, in the first seven years of their existence, no muskies reported have exceeded their minimum requirement of 58 pounds for verification. Until now. And, though I haven’t asked them, we presume they take umbrage with some of the “ancient” records from the days when muskies were dispatched with handguns and sometimes certified through questionable, even less than credible means. Louis Spray’s 63.5-inch, 69 pounder, stands in evidence. Taken in Wisconsin in 1949, that muskie has been an object of controversy ever since.

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Some big muskies have been verified during the ensuing decades. Jeff Gardner reported a 59 incher from the St. Lawrence River in 2006—but it weighed “only” 55 pounds. A 57-incher was also reported in Wisconsin in 2006, and in 2010, angler Ed Beers reported another 59 incher that was released and uncertified. Prior to those catches we were regaled with a lot of “would-have-beens” that were, of course, released. While Seeberger decided to keep and mount his trophy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources folks are anxious to point out that, in Michigan, anglers can only kill one muskie per year from now on, beginning April 1. Any angler killing a muskie will be required to tag it. Tags will be available March 1.

Undoubtedly, some will say Seegberger should have released that fish. But it was his legal right to keep it and see if it might not break a record. Well, it broke several, gave us all a look at a record muskie, and that’s all I’ll say about that—other than to applaud Michigan’s rule change, which will further protect these critical, top-of-the-line predators from harvest.

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Certainly, this fits right in with my recent theme on travel in February. Not only would I recommend Antrim and all surrounding counties to traveling anglers from anywhere, I’ve spent many a day chasing perch, steelhead, and pike through the ice in this magical area. Many rivers in this region provide open-water steelhead angling all winter long. And Antrim County was one of my favorite destinations for brown trout, smallmouth bass, and lake trout throughout the many summers I spent living in Michigan. Perhaps that’s where I’ll pick up this thread next time—unless something more interesting comes along. Right now we have about 30 below-zero-wind-chill factors, and I’m busy writing articles for the June issue of In-Fisherman—so I won’t be pulling any fish out of any holes in the ice today. (Hate it when their eyes freeze solid the second you pull them up for a photo. Can’t be good for them, looks like the fish is dead, camera batteries die quick, and our fingers have a tendency to turn black. No wonder I’m thinking about Florida, Mexico, North Carolina, Arizona, Michigan and California—anywhere I’ve been in winter that isn’t right here, at this particular moment. Think I’ll go reorganize my muskie boxes…)

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  • Jay_B

    No matter how big of a title you put together for a group and call them the keepers of "the record" until they can 100% disprove Spray's record it will always be #1 in my mind. Not to take away from how awesome this fish is, its a once in a life time fish, but to claim it as the "world record" is not accurate. Congrats on your state record catch!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.seeberger.5 Joe Seeberger

    To my fellow fisherman,

    Are you suprised to hear that none of the tackle companies are capatlizing on this story. Really….! a 58lb muskie on bass tackle. It is unbelievable the tackle held up! Still 4 months later no one has taken advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. In my opinion I expected more appreciation for the average fisherman. After all it is the average fisherman like you and I, that purchase and promote their product, I have to say this has been an eye opening experience for me.

    • Tiger Man

      I agree 100%!! Great fish buddy.So….was the world record slot vacant or is it a record only under the MDMWRP??

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.chapman.167 Jeff Chapman

    That’s awesome. Congrats Joe!

  • Andrew F

    That is awesome, never fished for them, but would love to. Fish on friends!!

  • Nate.

    Takes real skill, and a little luck, to land a huge fish on light tackle. Congrats to the angler!

  • the trout doctor

    should of released it, still nice fish

  • disqus_0ceAvFNM5m

    an hour and half from us!

  • http://www.facebook.com/terry.shelby Terry Shelby

    a life time fish on any gear .cant argue whats on the wall .id have kept it to ,but it would have been a great fish for a breeding & stocking program still i say congrats & tight lines to you . hope you can top it next season.

  • Tom

    Not sure on the 1 fish per year rule….I’m 56 and Wisconsin seems to have plenty of Muskies without restricting them to one fish per year….The game & fish people are starting to real restrict stuff and I’m not all for tight restrictions unless needed….A lot of people don’t even fish for Muskies….Not that much pressure on them and most people hook one with the wrong tackle will just snap their lines….Don’t need protection yet…

  • Fish Assassin

    the REAL world record muskie was 69 Lb 11 oz. i know the family of the person who caught it and the fish is mounted over the fire place in the house these people think they now everything… they must be a special kind of stupid. they think they cant grow over 68 Lbs is BS they can grow to how ever big they can before they either die or be taken from the eco system.

  • NYLS

    What about the 69 pound 15 oz., 64.5 inch muskie caught in the St Lawrence River in 1957 by Arthur Lawton and recognized as the state record in New York?

    • craig

      As fabricated as the Louis spray one. Look at art Lawton pic of that fish. Doesn’t even look that big.

  • carl u

    back on July 15 1973 i caught and released a muskie that was 57 inches and well over the 25 pound scale i had, in upstate NY on 8 LB test mono. The reason i rember it was my birthday and was with my dad. in a row boat that was for sure a record fish lol one of many i have caught over the years.

    • Tiger Man

      Where abouts in Upstate Ny. Carl? Just curious what area?

  • Noah

    five minutes from my house

  • musky matt

    Look at those 3 turds!!!!! Of course another bass or walleye fisherman keeping muskie. Just think if they released that fish could be the size of the real world record muskie

  • Ken

    Ken O’Brien caught a 65pd Muskie in 1988 in Ontario. I believe that is the word record.

    • craig

      I agree although there is even some talk that one is exaggerated. Larry ramsell writes about this.

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