Mathieu Pigeon is extremely excited about his recent catch during a fishing trip with some family and friends on the West Arm of Lake Nipissing, between North Bay and Sudbury, Ont.
After three days of fishing between Noelville and St. Charles, the group of anglers hadn't seen a fish yet, but on the fourth day, their luck changed. Pigeon reeled in an estimated 40-pound muskellunge, more commonly known as a musky.
"It was probably anywhere between 36 to 40 pounds, so measured over 50 inches and had a really big, big girth," said Pigeon. "And yeah, it was pretty cool."
According to Ontario Travel, it is double the average size of 10 to 20 lbs.
To back up his fishing tale, he caught it all on video, including lifting the big fish out of the water with his bare hands.
Persistence really pays off
"I was going into a figure eight, and I hooked into a fish and then I missed it," said Pigeon. "I didn't get discouraged and kept going. And then finally this one hit right at the boat side."
He said it took about 30 seconds to reel in the fish the size of a small child but was prepared with the proper equipment so as not to harm the creature.
"You don't mess around with these fish. They're very sensitive, even though they're an apex predator," said Pigeon. "You have to use a hundred-pound test line, is what I recommend anyways. You need hook removers, hook cutters and proper nets, and you really have to be delicate and gentle with these fish to preserve the fishery."
The angler's goal when fishing is to catch and release.
"That fish is still swimming because we caught it. We treated it well. We measured it quickly, took a quick picture, and off it went," said Pigeon.
He wouldn't reveal all of his secrets but said he was using a bucktail lure, which is typically made with hair from a deer's tail.
Just keep casting
Pigeon, who currently lives in Rockland, Ont., comes from generations of northern Ontario anglers from the St. Charles area. It was the first time he had been back in 25 years.
"My great-grandfather built the West Arm Inn, and then my great grandfather owned the Hillcrest Lodge, my dad guided at the West Arm Lodge, and I spent time there as a kid as well," said Pigeon. "It was my first time going musky fishing there. It's pretty awesome."
His said his family has a tradition called the "musky screech," which is an energetic celebratory call when someone catches one.
Pigeon's recent catch is up near the current record recognized by Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters held by Kenneth O'Brien, who in 1988 caught a 65 lb musky in Lake Huron that measured 58 inches long and had a girth of 30.5 inches using a Rapala Countdown.