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Marc Thorpe

Muskie growth and potentials and limitations to a world record

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Allow me to explain my thoughts which have led me to believe there is a maximum potential.

It is from observation,reading studies on cold blooded animals and fish in particular that have led me to from this opinion

 

I have spoken with DR Casselman about his maximum growth chart,even he admits it is a speculated calculated growth chart,there are many variables which are not factored.

Like all species in which theoretical growth charts are calculate for.

 

We must understand that in most regions growth does not occur all season,it occurs during the months of June to September in length and October to December for girth,the retention and building of fat and egg development.These factors can be somewhat slowed or increased depending of yearly and seasonal water temps and weather conditions.

Keep in mind fish do not gain weight during the course of the summer due to high metabolism in accordance average summer water temps. Un seasonal cool summers will allow the fish to retain a certain amount of weight but generally they stabilize in weight according to their physical features and make up which is somewhat below maximum girth grow potential.

also given the cylindrical physical make up and feature of the fish

a 55 inch fish would support IN WATER a girth slightly more than have its length which would equate to 27.5 inches in girth,yes there are the exceptions of 28 and possibly 29.

Williamson s fish which supported a 31 inch girth measured laying flat and out of the water according to my information was above normal.

Allow me to speculate that if the girth was taken in the water ,it would have supported a 29 inch girth which would placed it in the maximum norm.

Some fish display great length but slender back ends,the heaviest fish seem to display uniformity from head to tail.

The fish that display uniformity could be at maximum health period during their growth years/life while fish displaying great length but slender tail sections or back end may have exceeded or surpassed their maximum health and growth/ life period in their lives

 

We must also factor in angling pressure,many fish have shown signs of sulking and ceased feeding for a period after being angled and displayed avoidance afterward.

I suspect that this experience of angling may impact a fish feeding behavior which would equate to lack of growth.

From my observation on the Big O and Big Flo and many other regions of fish pictures I have observed,this is a important factor and determining factor which is an addition to all other variables which would allow for maximum growth

 

I do believe and from my observations and measuring from in water to out of water girth measurement there is a discrepancy of 1,5 to 3 inches from in water girth measurement to out of water girth measurements.I suspect many of the big girths we are seeing are out of water measurement.

 

This has led many to weigh there fish instead of girthing them,some do girth also their fish along with weighing them,its seems their weight and measurements seem to correlate with my thinking.

 

I seldom girth and do not weigh fish anymore,simply due to limiting my presence and pressure but most of all ,out of water and human contact to the fish

One must stare the ennemy in the eye if he wishes minimize his impact on the fish

 

For one,we must break down each region which is producing great big fish and the physical make up and build of the fish.Each region shows variables in physical build and characteristics.

There are many regions which posses and have produced great big fish of 50 pounds or mid to 58 pounds or so.

Most if not all those fish were at peak growth and weight gain.

 

The question all ask is : The fish bite again,what says it wont eat more.

My reasoning is : Did the fish eat the lure cause it was eating or did it hit the lure because it was invading its space of peace and tranquility.

I do not believe fish hit lures because they are eating all the time,I suspect many times they hit lures simply because it disturbs them in there resting area, whether it be shallow or deep.

 

For those that fish above the norm,they will understand my next thinking.

Ever notice you catch fish all summer them the fish somewhat disappear then show up gain and they are big!

Maybe we are catching them when they are not eating!

But catching them when they are being disturbed.

I have observed the behavior of fish and its feeding tendency,I suspect a fish that hits a lure from the head or mid body is feeding but a fish that hits coming from behind,I suspect its hit from disturbing the fish.Many times those fish are slight hooked from the inside of the mouth but many times its from the outside in which would indicate an aggressive behavior towards the intruding lure.

 

We are living in the era of the best muskie fishing in history and the era of educated anglers,If there were 60 pounders,we would be catching them on a regular basis

There are many of today's guides and anglers which specialize in great big fish,They are not catching them.

 

In all exclusion of the NFWHF

 

First lets understand that in most cold water regions 50 is attained generally between 18 to 24 years.Muskies are speculated to live until 30 years of age.

When we factor that most living animals live out their lives to 80% of life expectancy,we can somewhat speculate that most muskies reach the pinnacle of there lives somewhere between 24 and 27 years old.Some do live out to 30 years old.

They do not continue growth all there lives some just like all animals cease growth at 48,50,53 and the magical few will attain 58 inches or so.

Most cold blooded animals seem to show lack of weight gain in the last year or 2 of there lives. Which would indicate that for a fish to be at its maximum potential the fish generally would be aged somewhere between 18 and 24 years of age.

 

Georgian bay has produced most probably the only 60 pounder ,speculation of Obrien's fish still abound but Williamson fish is un-disputably 61 pounds,It was aged at 17 years old ,which from all indication was a fast growth.Now to make clear the gonads were never verified to my understanding and information so the speculation that this fish was sterile is un-founded.

 

Georgian bay has produced many 50 pound to mid 50 pound muskies but like many regions it faces some environmental issues and the importance of all ,the diminishing of its forage base. The instability of weather which has direct effect on the feeding behavior of fish and most importantly the stability of water levels and temperature.

Although it has produced many 50 pound fish,the length or maximum length do not seem to be common,fish in excess of 55 inches.

I still believe that Georgian bay given its vastness could produce a fish slightly bigger than any other area. But not 70 pounds and I would be surprised at 65.

 

Green Bay posses the possibility of producing such a big fish also if the angling pressure does not override and cease the potential maximum growth rate.

It has produced a few 50 pound fish but once again at its early stage in evolution, maximum length seems to be somewhat of a small minority of fish.

It was also stocked some 20 years ago or so which many of the first generation of fish can and will attain maximum growth rate,the second and third generations seem to display a slower and lesser growth rate. What I have not quite understood yet about the Big Green is average water temps and growth rate speed,its seems from my understanding and information that the growth rate is accelerated which would indicate that these fish may not live to full expectancy but this is not yet understood

 

MN has produced some giant fish also,again 1st generation and fishing pressure seems to have created a form of avoidance in some areas.Once again the average maximum length seems to fall short somewhat.Although some giant are caught year to year,I do believe that methods of girthing maybe the variable that we are not looking at.

The recent 58 incher and Jonenesi and Dahms fish are example of giants that do exist but once again we are looking at mid 50 pound fish which seem to display the peak of their life and physical being,The only variable which needs clarifying is whether girths were taken in water or out of water which would give a true approximation of their weight .

Great big fish none the less

 

The Big O and the Big flo have displayed length but due to specific fishing pressure and current factors these fish display different physical features and make up.

The Big O fish have had specific angling pressure which has led to avoidance and somewhat ceased weight gains during the fall months.

I have personally observed 3 individual of 58 inches,2 of those were approx 45 to 47 pounds,I do not believe these 2 females posses the the physical make up of attaining 58 pounds or better,There is 1 female which her physical make up and characteristics does meet the needed make to attain possibly 58 pounds,Finding her during the prime maximum weight gain period is like looking for a needle in a hay stack.I suspect avoidance and possibly angling experience may hamper her feeding ability.

We did capture her last year at 58x26 (in water girth measurement) (this fish was caught in august)last year due to unseasonably cool waters,the year previous she was 58x25

For all many I suspect angling pressure has affected there feeding ability or willingness.

The barbosa fish after many discussion with Mike Lazarus the fish may have been 55 to 57 pounds and the Lapointe fish somewhere around 58 pounds(that fish is now dead from old age)

The Big Flo has produced many big fish but the one thing many do not understand is the current things.Many fish that lay in current use there swim bladders to rest upon the bottom to allow themselves to lunge upwards to feed,These fish although show some very nice girth,most have air trapped in their swim bladders which leads to abnormal girths not supported by weight due to the dimension of the fish.

Again the methods of girthing whether in water or out of water may lead to discrepancies in the girth of the fish.

The Mcnair fish in my opinion is around 55 to 57 pounds and at its maximum growth period at the time of the season and her life,without factoring the trapped air in her swim bladder.

 

Lac Seul and LOTW and Nippising seem to show signs of similar issues as the Ottawa

I must add that all these areas display common girth to length ratio which indicates healthy fish

 

When you factor all these regional variables and add environmental issues + weather + water conditions + angling pressure+ maximum life expectancy + maximum life period growth = limited possibilities of a fish exceeding 65 pounds or better

 

One of the most important factors is forage population which by all indications are in far lesser number than the 70's and 80's,many biologist speculate we will never see the abundance and populations we once had.

This above all is a critical determining factor

 

C&R is great resource management tool and solutions but it is not the end all of end all,

Post Mortality is a big factor and more an individual gets captured year after year or several times a years,Higher are the odds that post mortal release will ensue.

I do believe state records can and will be broken if harvested

I suspect we may have seen the biggest fish ever captured in Williamson fish

There is a possibility that one slightly bigger may exist but unless harvested we will never know

 

In hopes this further clarifies some views on the matter,Although I am not a biologist,I am an enthusiast of the species and understanding its life evolution and behavior.

At this point in my evolution of muskie fishing,its goes beyond the great big fish,its about the great big fish and how it evolves .

 

marc thorpe

Edited by marc thorpe

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You are entitled to your opinion......not that it's ageed to...but none the less you are entitled.

 

As you said ....you are not a biologist.

Edited by muskymatt

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You have a point,Keep in mind,its been mathematically calculated and biologically viewed with actual and factual growth rates and assessments of physical characteristics related to various regions.

seems many in the scientific field share my views

Here is one em

 

 

"Wow! Excellent post! That's going to be pretty difficult to argue against. I think a lot of people simply want to think there is a fish out there that could break the record so that they might have a chance to do it someday. Clearly they don't quite understand the limitations of these fish. The Casselman and Crossman was supposed to show that even these famous biologists "appear" to think that it is a stretch (unless a fish was abnormal like Williamson's) for a fish to reach WR-class potential, much less obtain maximum weight potential (70+lbs) according to the von Bertalanffy model."

 

Sean Landsman

 

Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology

M.Sc. Candidate, Biology

Carleton University

Edited by marc thorpe

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Rainbows are triploids which equates to genetically altered fish

 

bass do get to 20 pounds in certain southern states,mainly Texas and California

 

Mexico aswell

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Guest gbfisher

I think it's hormonal.... :)

I think experience speaks before any MNR study would. Now adays the studies they do are worth...caca. :rolleyes: No money No time.

I know an older musky fisherman who has fished probably more than any MNR person doing any study. He's never seen a giant fish out of the water other than (williamsons) although he'd like to think there's one out there and at 85 is still at it. He did put a 20 in the boat on Friday... :D He did say he had a dream last week of a 300 lbder but Im not so sure it was of a fish.... :D

 

ok there's one question left here to be answered.....Lies and stories don't cut it. :D

Edited by gbfisher

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I still think Geo Bay is the best place to nab a 60 lber.

Those ghostly silver, open water fish are the ones that can break the mark.

To get to 60 a high fat high protein diet such as herring is the key I think, combine that with the cooler waters of Geo Bay to maximize life span.

Those freakish largemouth in California get big by feeding on stocked trout, another high fat high protein snack.

 

Hey maybe with the colder water temps that we have had over the last few years will open a window for more giant fish to show up.

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Thanks for sharing your experience and views, Marc. The resurgence of the Muskie fishery in the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa has been amazing.

I'm from Hawkesbury: when I was younger, muskies out of that part of the Ottawa were almost unheard of, and now there are a good number of trophy fish in the area, as you know.

I won't dare to speculate on the maximum potential size of the species; I'll let others with more studied opinions do that. What is heartening though, is the number of large fish being caught in a variety of different fisheries these days.

As to which fishery hosts the possibility of the largest fish, I gotta go with Georgian Bay, but only because that's where I fish! :D

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Muskies a freshwater tiger, does it hit a lure out of hunger? or curiosity like a cat? playing with an unknown or for what seems like fun? Hunger for sure at times, the rest speculation? Even and old dog or cat will play, check out the unknown in their space and muskies don`t have paws to do it with?

 

GB? some huge skis there, maybe not the numbers as in other areas but above average quality, LOL and they now have more trout available in their diet like the bass in California? Just a huge area with more than normal breeding grounds and feeding areas.

 

I think there is a train of though in bass fishing that a percentage of the outsized fish in a lake rarely approach a shoreline? Could be that way for skis also, deep water cruisers, shallow is for spawning only? Top of the food chain, everything else smaller is food.

 

Good article, just rambling.

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I think it has been shown that several bodies of water are capable of producing fish in excess of 60 " and if caught with the right feed bag on will have world record proportions.

 

The Ottawa river has produced the world record catch and release at 62" as claimed by Bill Craig. And if that fish had attained a girth of 31" it would (by calculations) weigh 66.20 lbs

 

I know of 3 confirmed 60" plus out of the St.Lawrence and with the girth that they can achieve on the Larry it is not impossible to potentially see a fish of 61"x 32 with a weight approaching 70lbs

 

Or even a 60" x 33" and weigh over 70lbs

 

Dales fish at 57" x 33" clearly had more length potential and if able to once again attain a girth proportion of 33" ....who knows how big it could get.

 

I also heard of a pike study done on Nippissing that involved netting and the MNR reportedly netted several muskies during that study that were approaching 63-65" . These fish on a body of water such as the Nip. surley have record potential.

 

G.Bay has all the right ingredients for a W.R. fish but you just never hear anyone talk about it. Apparently (be it rumor or not) there was a Manitoulin area fish caught not recorded that weighed in excess of 70lbs. I cannot confirm though and supposedly it was years ago.

 

LOTM Lac St. Louis and St Pierre have proven also to have very large muskies and in good numbers as well. Once again you don't hear alot about them. So you can see several water bodies have had record fish potentials and those are only the fish we are seeing.

 

Genetics, body of water,food, yearly weather patterns and many other factors will play into the max size potential of Muskies. Ultimately you have to be in the right spot at the right time otherwise anglers(guides) such as Collin, Thorpe and Lazarus(and others) would catching record fish regularly instead of the likes of O'brien and Macnair. I believe that some muskies reach a certain size and then their habits change completely so we never see them again.

 

Is it not possible these monsters can become solely deep water dwellers??

 

But the debate will continue. And those with penis envy will find some way to discredit every fish and every person who caught it no matter what the proof and thus credible folks will keep it secret. The rest won't even bother to participate in the whole nonsense.

 

And the ugliness of ego will continue and prevail once again.

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Guest gbfisher

or maybe just some do not like the wool pulled over peoples eyes or their own ?!?!

So far from what I have seen. That's the case! :D

 

Penis envy..... :lol:

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I think there may be Muskie 60+lbs but these fish would not fit into the Genetic norm, like most real trophies they would be somewhat of a genetic freak. I agree with alot of what you say, but I still beleive monster muskie exsist, I mean not all fish fall into the biological norm. A true trophy may exsist that falls way outside the normal growth rates and such if the genetics are right and the fish is somewhat of a freak to the norm.

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Marc, great read. There COULD be a 70lb'er in GBay, you never know for sure. There have been 1 or 2 8ft tall human beings, pretty much freaks of nature, a monster musky cruising the depths at that size will probably never be seen but we don't know for sure that it does not exist.

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As far as I am concerned, there are record breaking muskies out there that are to smart to hit a lure, no matter what the MNR, "experts" et al have to say about it.

Edited by Squid

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Thanks for posting this Marc, very thoughtful and probably correct.

Only way to know surely is for fish to be kept, weighed and analyzed for next WR to be official.

 

Some pics of brutes caught over last 25 yrs. from GB or Ottawa/St. Lawrence flow.

dalemacnair3.jpg

pan3.jpg

ontario-record-muskie.jpg

normal_mikelazarusmuskie-1.gif

 

O'Briens looks the largest but who knows?

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Marc, great read. There COULD be a 70lb'er in GBay, you never know for sure. There have been 1 or 2 8ft tall human beings, pretty much freaks of nature, a monster musky cruising the depths at that size will probably never be seen but we don't know for sure that it does not exist.

 

I agree, but I beleive that these "andre the giant" muskies would be 60-65lbs. Most fish we have seen in the last couple years have been in the mid 50 pounds.

 

just my opinion, and not bashing anyone's fish, in fact I am very happy for anyone who has hooked a 50 pounder, regardless if they think it weighed 70 pounds. :-)

 

good read ya scots.

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Great reads from both Marc and Matt. I feel like i know a lot about muskies and learned quite a bit from both. Never thought about the air bladder thing - makes total sense.

 

My two cents -- the deep open water fish see <1% of the angling pressure (maybe less than 0.001%), are in colder water (helps them fatten up), and are eating much richer/fatter forage base than their shallow-water counterparts. If there's a new WR, and i would like to think there is, its coming from there.

 

I also strongly agree with Matt abour right place, right time. There's a 44/45 inch musky that i mark all the time, sitting in the same spot in 30-40 feet of water in an area that sees VERY little angling pressure. Despite throwing lures at that fish every chance i get (over 2 yrs) i have only caught it twice.... That fish eats once in awhile and otherwise, you're probably not going to catch it. Muskies are not like Bass where you can (easily) inspire them to eat. Maybe you can once in awhile, but you're hardly going to do that with open water fish (where there's no structure to focus on).....you need to be in the right place and right time.

 

I also think its unfair to judge the the MacNair fish (and others like it) based on the standard formula(s) because it has such a giant belly. Its girth is HARDLY uniform. It doesn't make his catch less extraordinary (it is MASSIVE).....just less appropriate for the weight formulas.

Edited by cram

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Great reads from both Marc and Matt. I feel like i know a lot about muskies and learned quite a bit from both. Never thought about the air bladder thing - makes total sense.

 

My two cents -- the deep open water fish see <1% of the angling pressure (maybe less than 0.001%), are in colder water (helps them fatten up), and are eating much richer/fatter forage base than their shallow-water counterparts. If there's a new WR, and i would like to think there is, its coming from there.

 

I also strongly agree with Matt abour right place, right time. There's a 44/45 inch musky that i mark all the time, sitting in the same spot in 30-40 feet of water in an area that sees VERY little angling pressure. Despite throwing lures at that fish every chance i get (over 2 yrs) i have only caught it twice.... That fish eats once in awhile and otherwise, you're probably not going to catch it. Muskies are not like Bass where you can (easily) inspire them to eat. Maybe you can once in awhile, but you're hardly going to do that with open water fish (where there's no structure to focus on).....you need to be in the right place and right time.

 

I also think its unfair to judge the the MacNair fish (and others like it) based on the standard formula(s) because it has such a giant belly. Its girth is HARDLY uniform. It doesn't make his catch less extraordinary (it is MASSIVE).....just less appropriate for the weight formulas.

Something thing to keep in mind about comparing photographs is perspective. Dale McNair is a 300 lb guy, which has to be kept in mind. O'Brien is quite obviously about half that.

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Something thing to keep in mind about comparing photographs is perspective. Dale McNair is a 300 lb guy, which has to be kept in mind. O'Brien is quite obviously about half that.

 

I have met Dale (he's not 300 lbs, or if he is he's hiding it well) and seen a replica of the fish. Dale seemed like a great guy, and the replica was huge. The fish was massive.

 

I didn't question that, just said it (and others like it that have bowling ball bellies from the fall feed) probably don't fit the formulas for estimating weights. That said, i didn't create the formulas so maybe that is taken into consideration.

 

Also, any WR fish is likely going to be in that class because its on the fall feed....so whatever the WR fish is, its likely going to have a bowling ball. Its nothing that should discredit any fish....just the formula.

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Cram, that number came from the interview, if I recall correctly, that he did on another forum. I'd like to meet him, and see the replica firsthand....

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Guest steel'n'esox

A very interesting read with some very good and true points, it is proven that 90 percent of all big fish over 50 pounds come in oct and nov, food source is a big reason for this and also roaming big muskies move closer to follow forage making those big fish more accessible to anglers, at a time when their weight mass is at or very close to its yearly peak, with both forage mass and egg mass. The next world record if someone decides to due the deed(kill the fish) will either come from GB or the Larry and not nessarily in that order. Nippising might be the wild card in the equation, all those bodies have the genetics and the forage base to produce giants.

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