Byron Warwick admits that without the photos no one would believe him.
Warwick was fishing from his Corunna dock on July 8 when he hooked a three-pound smallmouth bass, itself a pretty enviable catch.
What he didn’t immediately realize was that a muskellunge – the top predator in the Great Lakes – had grabbed the bass as a snack.
“The line went in under a neighbour’s dock and wrapped itself around one of the spiels a couple of feet under the water,” Warwick told The Journal.
“I could see (the bass) but it looked like it was covered in seaweed”
He went back to his property to retrieve a landing net and tried to dip out his catch, with the muskie still attached.
“I was poking at it, and it just would not let go of that fish,” he said.
So, he scooped up both of them and heaved the pair onto the grass, hoping to get a photo of the beast.
“It was very exciting, but I would never have considered keeping a fish like that. I don’t know how old it was, but it’s gotta be quite old,” he said.
Warwick released the muskie, which slowly righted itself and swam off downriver.
He did not weigh or measure it. But as his wife snapped photos he did a quick spread-hand measurement, in nine-inch units, guestimating it at 57 inches.
An ambush predator, muskies feeds mostly on fishes but also eat frogs, mice, muskrats and small ducks.
“It had teeth three-quarters of an inch to an inch long – like canine teeth,” he said. “I didn’t want to endanger my hand anywhere near those teeth.”
Warwick, 79, said he wanted to release the bass as well but it was too badly injured, and so it became supper.
Regarded as the king of freshwater sport fish, muskellunge can live 20 years. The big ones grow to 50 inches or more and can weigh over 50 pounds.
Warwick had just read a story in last week’s Journal about a 36.8-lb. carp that Patrick Surdyka caught and released at Bridgview Marina, which was also approaching record-book range.
Two big fish stories in two weeks says good things about the water quality around Sarnia,” he said.
“Muskie fishermen are always going to Lake St. Clair. Maybe they should be trying the St. Clair River.