The St. Lawrence Chamber of Commerce has announced that a 51-inch long muskellunge caught by a Long Lake man in St. Lawrence County last summer has been certified as the world record for a catch and release muskie caught on a fly rod and 30-pound test leader.
Michael Small caught and released the big fish in July, 2012, on the St. Regis River. He was fishing with Will Clute of Mohawk Trails Guide Service, who is also a member of the countys FISHCAP Advisory Board.
Last September on the St. Regis, Small also hauled in a 49.5-inch long muskie to win the first annual Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge in Brasher Falls. Both fish were caught using a Hawg Frawg, a hand-tied fly pattern of Smalls own design. Each fish had an 18-inch girth.
Both muskies were put back in the water to fight again, Small said.
The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin certified the 51-inch fish as a world record for its category – catch and release, fly fishing, 30-pound test leader. According to Hall of Fame Executive Director Emmett Brown, Smalls fish displaces the previous 47-inch record-holder in that category. The St. Regis River muskie is also just one inch shy of the longest muskie caught on a fly rod, a 52-inch fish in Wisconsin in 2000.
The process for certification of a catch and release fish includes submitting a notarized application that has a picture of the fish, the measurement, and a statement from another person who witnessed the catch, measurement, and release of the fish. Small said he also had to submit a section of the line used, which is tested for breaking strength.
Asked about his hopes for this year, Small said I have my sights set on breaking the 52-inch mark this season.
The St. Lawrence River is rich in muskie history (the world record was set in 1957, when a 64.5-inch, 69-pound, 15-ounce monster was pulled from the river), but Smalls experience on the St. Regis shows that great opportunities for muskie also exist in the smaller waterways in St. Lawrence County, including the Oswegatchie, Grasse, Raquette, and Deer Rivers.
The muskie season on these rivers runs from the third Saturday in June through November 30; on the St. Lawrence River it runs through December 15.
St. Lawrence County waters provide world-class fishing for numerous freshwater species, a fact that is being promoted through FISHCAP – a multi-year, economic development initiative and local public/private partnership. Fishing highlights in the county in 2013 will include the B.A.S.S. Bassmaster Elite Series St. Lawrence River Showdown, August 8 – 11 in Waddington.