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St. Lawrence River muskies may set record

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Two December musky catches on the St. Lawrence River may qualify as records with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), and the two fish reflect on-going trends in the musky world. One is that the St. Lawrence produces the world’s largest muskies year after year. Secondly, there is a strong catch-and-release ethic among modern musky anglers as both fish were successfully released.

FORJOHN FISH

Matt Forjohn of Ambler, Pa., was fishing aboard Walter Wolf Charters with Captain Bob Walters of Skaneateles on Dec. 2 when his musky struck. Using a traditional river technique and lure, the anglers were trolling a Swim Whizz (walleye) near a shoal at Carleton Island. IGFA rules require that fish in the length-records category be measured to the “v” of the tail so Forjohn’s 54-inch catch measured just over 51 inches. The musky’s unofficial weight was nearly 50 pounds.

CARLSON CATCH

Mark Carlson of Rockford, Ill., was fishing with veteran musky angler Mike Lazarus in the Gananoque section of the St. Lawrence River on Dec. 4 when they hooked a large musky. The anglers were trolling a Legend lure (perch), and their 56-inch catch measured 52 inches to the “v” of the tail. The estimated weight of the Carlson musky was 55 pounds.

LENGTH RECORDS

The IGFA is one of several organizations that recognizes catch-records for fish, and because of the current catch-and-release practice of many anglers, the group instituted a length-record category instead of the traditional weight-record system that typically involves killing the catch in order to get the fish to officially certified scales.

Carlson already holds the current length-record musky according to IGFA, and that 2011-caught fish measured 128 centimeters. After the 60-day waiting period, it is expected that the 130-centimeter Forjohn fish will be declared the new world record. If Carlson follows through on his application, then he will once again hold the IGFA length record at 132 centimeters.

IGFA APPLICATIONS

The IGFA has very strict standards for entering fish into their awards programs. Those standards include a detailed, two-page application with photos of the catch. For the length category, anglers must also submit the last 50 feet of the main fishing line with the leader attached. Too, length-category fish must be measured on an official IGFA record-by-length, measuring device.

Official IGFA measuring devices were on board for both the Forjohn and Carlson catches so the anglers involved were well aware of IGFA rules. Any angler looking to set an IGFA-recognized, world-record catch should visit www.igfa.org. The organization acknowledges records in numerous categories including all-tackle, all-tackle length, various line weights, and various tippet weights for fly fishing. In fact, IGFA currently recognizes world-record musky catches in 23 different categories.

ALL-TIME RECORD MUSKIES

The IGFA, Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, and New York DEC recognize different catches as the all-time, record musky. Based in Dania Beach, Fla., the IGFA recognizes Cal Johnson’s 1949 catch as the world record. That musky weighed 67 pounds, 8 ounces; the fish was caught in Lake Court Oreilles in Hayward, Wis. The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis., recognizes Louis Spray’s 1949 catch as the world record. That musky weighed 69 pounds, 11 ounces; the fish was caught in Chippewa Flowage, Wis. DEC recognizes Art Lawton’s 1957 catch as the record musky. That musky weighed 69 pounds, 15 ounces; the fish was caught in the St. Lawrence River in Jefferson County.

KING OF RECORDS

Chuck Booker of West Amherst, has to be the king of fishing records. According to an article in the latest issue of Lake Ontario Outdoors magazine, Booker currently holds 58 world records. These records are for Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, brown trout, steelhead, and smallmouth bass. Some of the records are all-tackle ones while others are for various line classes and fly fishing. Niagara Tourism has plans to make Booker a poster feature in an upcoming ad campaign.

Outdoors Calendar

Jan. 17-19: New York Sportsman’s Show at Oncenter in Syracuse.

Jan. 24-26: New York Sportsman’s Expo at Syracuse Fairgrounds (www.newyorksportsmansexpo.com).

Jan. 25: Annual Black Lake Ice Fishing Derby (393-3543 or 375-6561).

Jan. 25: Alex Bay VFD Luck-of-the-Draw Ice Fishing Derby (816-2310 or 788-2243).

Jan. 25: Black Lake Challenge Ice Fishing Derby at Rollaway Bay.

Jan. 25: First Strike Ice Fishing Derby at Cranberry Lake (www.cranberrylakefire.org).

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