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Sarley: Modern-day muskie record in books

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On Oct. 20, 1949, Louis Spray caught a 69-pound, 11-ounce muskie on Wisconsin’s Chippewa Flowage. It was recognized by the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as the world record. Spray previously had caught two other world-record muskies.

There has been all too much controversy and argument over the legitimacy of Spray’s fish for many years. That is why legendary muskie historian Larry Ramsell established the Modern Day Muskellunge World Record Program in 2006. The group is comprised of some of the world’s top muskellunge scientists, along with several muskie industry leaders, muskie anglers and outdoor media personalities. I am proud to say that I am one of the members.

The MDMWRP has announced the acceptance of a recent muskellunge catch as its world record. The capture of a 58-pound muskie by Joe Seeberger of Portage, Mich., Oct. 13, 2012, from Lake Bellaire in Michigan has set a modern standard for the world’s muskie anglers. Bellaire is a tributary of Lake Michigan.

The bar had been set at a 60-pound minimum for a fish to be considered for the modern-day record. After seven years of no fish meeting this requirement, the bar was lowered to 58 pounds when several committee members got together and recommended the consideration of the Seeberger fish, after the fact. The length of time that had passed with no fish entered into the program indicated the real rarity of the species attaining such size. The committee voted unanimously to slightly reduce the minimum weight requirement and begin the authentication process of the 58-pound Seeberger muskie. After a thorough three-month review to assure it met the stringent MDMWRP requirements for a record, it was again voted unanimously to accept this fish as the Modern Day Muskellunge World Record.

The official weight and measurements of this grand fish are; 58 pounds, 58 inches and a girth of 29 inches. Full details and photos can be found at

• • •

This will be the end of the Mulholland/red elk controversy in this column, I swear it.

Here is the one letter I received backing my opinion: Ray Renner wrote, “I’d like to add my two-cents worth to the dialog about the shooting of two red deer here in Illinois. When I first read about the incident in the local newspaper, I laughed and thought to myself, ‘This is what happens when inexperienced people take to the field. Heck, this guy could have as easily shot some farmers cow or horse!’ But now I find out that the shooter is no inexperienced hunter. In fact, he is an experienced elk hunter – so there goes his defense that he ‘thought he was shooting an elk.’

“I also find it hard to believe that he didn’t know that a neighbor nearby was raising these type of animals. After all, the enclosures for deer and elk are much taller than what most farmers use for cows and horses. I guess he could always say that he never saw any of those enclosures, but it’s also hard to believe that in the hunting community no one mentioned that there were red deer being raised in the area. Where I live in southern Illinois, we have elk being raised in our area, and I don’t know of a hunter around here who isn’t aware of it.”

“As far as the legality of the hunter shooting these animals, it would appear that he was entirely within the law. However, it is my opinion that hunters also have moral obligations. I believe that a hunter should do everything he can to be sure the animal’s demise comes quickly, regardless of whether hunting with a bow or a gun. I also believe that it is immoral to shoot a first-year deer – after all, they are the future of our sport. And, I cannot fathom a hunter shooting something that he knows does not inhabit the area, but he shoots it anyway because he knows that shooting it is not illegal – that’s immoral.”

“Therefore, I think that given all of the circumstances, this seasoned hunter used very poor judgment when, not once but twice, he killed animals he should have left standing. It would seem that his loss of hunting privileges on the land where he shot the animals is a fitting response when mans law is inadequate.”

How do you figure the following event should have played out? A Michigan hunter sees a bison in the field. He calls the Department of Natural Resources to ask if he can shoot it. They give him the green light. There are no bison in Michigan, therefore, there is no season on bison. He shoots the animal.

It seems the animal escaped from a neighboring livestock ranch. The rancher had his herd registered with the state. He claimed they should have known not to give the hunter permission to harvest the bison. He was awarded $1,000 and an apology for the Michigan DNR error.

What does this mean to the Illinois red deer story? Yes, there is no Illinois season on red elk or deer. Why didn’t the hunter call the DNR to see if there were any registered animals that had gotten loose? Even if he had called the IDNR, he was virtually sitting on our border with Wisconsin. How could anyone know if the animals had been registered in Wisconsin?

It’s all over and done with and a story like this will likely never happen again. Still, I think the law should be amended to make it illegal to shoot an animal that is not covered by a specified season. It’s my opinion, and I am sticking to it.

Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs live at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. Sarley also runs a website for outdoors enthusiasts, He can be reached by email at


Fishing report

Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “The ice in most of the places that are being fished is around 6 inches thick. This is not a hard-and-fast rule – you need to check every area for yourself. Always be safe first. Bluegills are hitting wigglers, wax worm or spikes with early a.m. and late afternoon being the best bites. Northern pike fishing is fair on Crystal Lake, Bangs Lake and some of the smaller lakes in the area. Large golden roaches or frozen smelt both will work for pike. Try setting a smelt on the bottom in a sandy area for late ice pike.”

Call 815-455-2040 for updated reports.

For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, visit or call 847-587-8540.

Wisconsin: Call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for Lake Michigan and its tributaries.

World Ice Fishing Championships

The 2013 World Ice Fishing Championships take place Monday to Feb. 17 in Wausau, Wis., on the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir. Ice angling teams from around the world will be competing. USA Ice Team Capt. Mike McNett of Lombard said, “We held our U.S. qualifier here earlier in 2012, so we are already familiar with the techniques that will take to win in Wausau. In 2010, when the United States held the World Ice Fishing Championship in Rhinelander, Wis., we won. Home ice is an advantage for all nations who host the event. We are hoping it will be enough for us to repeat the gold medal on our home soil.”

For information, visit or email the captain at
Fishing seminar

Here’s an invitation I received from Captain Walt Koch of “I wanted to let you know that I will be giving a seminar on fishing the Fox Chain O’ Lakes in Fox Lake on Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. I will focus on fishing for walleye and crappie. The seminar will cover all the main lakes and the upper and lower river. We will talk about seasonal patterns, fishing techniques, and presentations. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers.

“The location of the seminar is at the NAC/Rod & Gun Club facility right on the shores of Fox Lake on Lippincott Point. The seminar will be given in their nice large clubhouse main room. Admission is free. The club will be raffling off a half-day guide trip for two anglers with my guide service. Tickets are $5 each or five for $20 and may be purchased at the club that night.”

Turkey totals

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced the results for the fall 2012 Wild Turkey Season. Hunters harvested 1,330 birds. The harvest compares with a total wild turkey harvest of 1,316 birds during the 2011 seasons. Fifty-one counties were open to fall firearm turkey hunting, while 96 counties were open to the fall archery turkey season. The top five firearm counties for fall turkey harvest were Jo Daviess (73), Pope (34), Jefferson (34), Union (32) and Williamson (32). The top five archery counties for fall turkey harvest were Fulton (27), Jefferson (26), Peoria (24), Jo Daviess (23), and Cass and Ogle (19 each).

Steve Sarley

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