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<H1 class=news-header-one>Man pulls monster musky from Lake Hopatcong

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Daily Record staff report • February 22, 2010
HOPATCONG — John Wilhelm did not win the Knee Deep Club's ice fishing contest Sunday but he did pull the biggest fish out of Lake Hopatcong.
In fact, it is among the biggest fish ever taken from the lake: a 26 pound, 46 inch muskellunge, or "musky."




"This was the third time I've caught a musky but nothing this big before," said Wilhelm, a 33-year-old tree surgeon from Hopatcong who has been fishing on the lake since he was 3. "I was shocked. The eyeballs were larger than a quarter and it had teeth like a pit bull. The teeth are three quarters of an inch long."

Wilhelm, who said he goes ice fishing two or three times a week, was participating in a Knee Deep Club contest at the time. The contest had three categories: Chain Pickerel; Yellow Perch; and All other Species (except Muskys).

Musky are excluded because the club is building a "trophy musky fishery" in the lake and asks that all musky regardless of size be returned to the water.

Wilhelm was using small fishing tackle, thinking he would catch a perch that would weigh less than a pound, he said. When the musky hit his line, Wilhelm couldn't just pull it through the hole in the ice.

"My buddy had to stick his hand through a foot of ice, grab it by the gills and pull it through the hole," Wilhelm said.

Mark Boriek, a fisheries biologist for the state, said muskies are the largest freshwater fish and are not easy to catch. They can grow to be 50 inches in length, he said.

"You don't hear about them being caught every day," said Boriek. "They have been refered to as the fish of a thousand casts — you have to put in a lot of time but every once in a while you just luck into them."

The Knee Deep Club's Web site said the club has been stocking musky since 1997, and there have been some caught that measured over 40 inches and weighed 20 pounds.

Wilhelm let his fish go after measuring and weighing it.

"We absolutely threw it back," Wilhelm said. "Catch and release — something that big and beautiful should go back in the lake."


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Unfortunately there is a sad ending to this story. The fish did not live after it was released. I know someone who witnessed the catch and it was bledding badly from being gut hooked. You can't blame the guy for trying though.
 

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Unfortunately there is a sad ending to this story. The fish did not live after it was released. I know someone who witnessed the catch and it was bledding badly from being gut hooked. You can't blame the guy for trying though.
That is a hsame but as you said really nothing he could have done he tried for the release there will always be some mortality.:(
 
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