While the international community of muskellunge hunters continues to quarrel over its century-old world record controversy, one angler can rest on the laurels of his new Washington state-record tiger muskie.
David Hickman, of Richland, landed a 37-pound, 14-ounce lunker on July 25 in Curlew Lake, Ferry County, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has listed the tiger muskie as the official state record on their website.
Measuring 50.37 inches long, 23.75 inches in girth, Hickman’s fish crushed the standing record of 31.25 pounds, caught by John Bays in Mayfield Lake on September 22, 2001. Known as “the fish of ten thousand casts” for its infamous tendency to break lines and spit hooks within net’s reach, Hickman takes the mantel for one of the most difficult records to obtain.
Though the WDFW website gives Hickman the title, the ink of the fine print has yet to dry.
“The paperwork still has two more signatures to make it official, but I think it’s safe to say that it will be the new state record,” Kent Mayer, a Spokane biologist, told the Billings Gazette.
The muskellunge, a name derived from the Native American Ojibwa word maashkinoozhe, meaning “ugly pike,” has a life span of 15 to 20 years. Most, according to studies, do not survive past nine years. The tiger caught by Hickman was over a decade old.
“Surveys show that the average muskie planted in Curlew Lake grows to about 40 inches by the fall of their fifth year of age,” Mayer reported. “[Hickman’s] was 12 years old and one of 336 tiger muskies planted in Curlew Lake in 2002, as determined by the presence of the a coded wire tag.”
The race to officially log the world’s largest muskie has been rife with phony photos, threadbare stories and mudslinging. The tiger muskie, a sterile hybrid of the muskellunge and northern pike, has had a less complicated history in the ongoing muskie controversy.
The International Game and Fish Association (IGFA) recognizes a 51-pound, 3-ounce tiger caught by John Knobla in Lac Vieux-Desert, Michigan, on July 16, 1919, as the all-tackle world record.
Those still fishing to overtake the title are in luck, especially those who frequent Curlew Lake in Washington.
“I was told by a knowledgeable angler that the new record is not the biggest fish in the lake,” Mayer told the Gazette.