July 22 – HENDERSON – It took a guided charter nearly 40 minutes to bring in a muskellunge almost 60 inches long.
Captain Gene P. Bolton, of Sunken Treasure Fishing Charters in Henderson, and his deck mate and fiancée, Samantha Cota, took their father-daughter Bob and Stephanie Slater on a trip a few weeks ago. They got out and caught some bass and perch before heading to walleye pens between Calf Island and Little Galloo Island near Henderson Harbour.
They fished there for a while and were about to get in there when they noticed a big fish was on one of the 10 lines.
“We hit a few bass and a walleye,” Mr. Bolton said, “and then bang, we hit this muskellunge.”
The muskellunge, muskellunge or muskie for short, is known as the 10,000-throw fish and is native to North America. Mr Bolton has caught six in his decades of fishing, including four 45in ones, but what the group he guided caught a few weeks ago was on another level, he said declared.
An approximately 8-inch candy-purple glitter minnow lure made by Berkely had snagged a muskellunge with a body wider than a 5-gallon bucket. The group fought him for about 30 to 40 minutes, Mr Bolton said, before they could get him into the boat. Previously, Mr Bolton had told guests, knowing how stressed and exhausted the fish would be, that they would only have about 20 seconds to measure it and then take a picture. They let him in and Mr. Bolton had to practically hug the fish to carry him, and he could even smell a big fish that the muskellunge had just eaten. They took the photo, then measured the fish at 59 7/8 inches and estimated its weight at around 65 pounds. The state record, captured Sept. 22, 1957, by Arthur Lawton on the St. Lawrence River in Jeffereson County, is 69 pounds, 15 ounces, and 64.5 inches, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. , but that was the last thing on their minds. . Mr. Slater already wanted to reject the fish, and Mr. Bolton was happy to agree. Mr Bolton said that excluded them from any record, but he didn’t care.
“Without questioning it, I would have liked this fish to swim,” Mr Bolton said. “I don’t care what anyone thinks or says. As an outdoor enthusiast, I always want those big mature fish to swim around.”
At first there was concern that the muskellunge did not move after putting it in the water. Mr Bolton said he was going back and forth to fill the fish’s gills with water and oxygen, hoping it would drift away. After about 40 minutes they let the boat get away from the fish. However, as they moved away about 50 meters, the fish did not move.
“At this point, I was quite upset,” Mr. Bolton said. “It hurt us.”
A little more time passed and they decided to go back to the fish. When they got back there, Mr Bolton said it was as if they had fired a cannonball into the water as it let out a powerful thrust towards the bottom of the lake, sending water spraying everywhere. It was a relief for the group as they followed the swimming muskellunge to the bottom.
Mr. Bolton has just finished eliminating 15 groups in 13 days. He said the fishing has been good so far but baitfish have been plentiful. Baitfish can cause problems for anglers, as the fish they target might as well eat the live bait instead of their artificial lures.
“You have to be on your game,” Mr Bolton said. “You have to learn. If you don’t learn every day, you won’t succeed. I think that has to be the most important element to guide these days.”
But Mr Bolton and the crew are confident at this point that they can target any species in the lake, of which there are many. That’s why if he takes a group and doesn’t catch a fish — it’s happened five times in his 10 years as captain — the next charter is half price.
“What sets Henderson apart from other ports along the lake is that we have the whole structure,” Bolton said. “We have big shoals, big islands and river systems. We have more species on our side of the lake than anywhere else. I can’t speak for Canada, but when you’re on our side in Henderson , you have a lot of different options to target.”