BELLAIRE - A new state record Muskie, quite possibly Michigan’s largest ever caught with a rod and reel, was caught in Lake Bellaire on Saturday, October 13.
Landed by Portage resident Joe Seeburger, who was enjoying a day of smallmouth bass fishing with his brother Chuck and friend Jason Orbeck, the monster fish weighed in at exactly 58 pounds on a certified scale at the Ellsworth’s Farmer’s Exchange, and was measured at 59 inches long, with a 29 inch girth, by an Antrim County Sheriff’s deputy who happened to be at the boat dock with a crime scene tape measure when the successful anglers came ashore.
Lured by a large sucker minnow used as bait, the muskie was caught at approximately 8:30 in the morning in approximately 15 feet of water along a drop-off, Seeburger said.
“The very moment I set the hook, I knew it was a huge fish - bigger than any of the smallmouths we’d been targeting, that was for sure,” he said.
The trophy fish did not come in without a battle, however.
Racing out to depths of over 70 feet, and back to shallow water less than five feet deep, the anglers had several good views of the muskie before netting it.
“It came to the boat right away and swam near the surface past the boat,” Seeburger grinned. “After a few moments, it gave us a spectacular jump, and I was sure I’d lose it then. But I didn’t.”
Even after the fish tired and was brought to the side of the boat, the anglers had doubts about getting it into the boat, especially after both of the nets on board their boat broke trying to lift the huge fish.
With the help of another fishing buddy, Derek Barnes, who had hopped aboard the boat to assist, the men used two lifejackets tied together to cradle the fish and a dockline tied around the fish to finally bring it into the boat at 10:30 a.m.
Seeburger was using a seven foot medium action spinning rod loaded with eight pound test fluorocarbon line and a size one Gamakatsu hook without a leader when the fish was hooked, which may qualify the angler for more records.
It is being mounted by Jeff Lutz of Lasting Memories Taxidermy in Ironton.
The Lake Bellaire muskie record, which was verified late last week by DNR Fisheries Biologist Patrick Hanchin and Conservation Officer Steve Speigl, topples the current state record muskie catch set in 2009 by Kyle Andersen on nearby Torch Lake, where a world record Atlantic salmon was also caught last year.