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Gary Engberg - The MacNair Monster - Muskie
Recently, I happened to hear about a huge muskie caught by a Canadian in province of Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. I did some research and tracked down the angler so that
you can read and hear his story about this muskie. I'm not going to get involved in world record talk because this was a released fish with only five photos taken including the
release shot. But, when muskie historian, Larry Ramsell, travels to Canada for an interview then there must be validity to this gigantic muskie caught late this past fall.
A Canadian angler, Dale MacNair caught and released a muskie of gigantic proportions on November 28, 2008. This "fish of a lifetime" measured 57 inches long with a 33 inch girth.
You can take any of the accepted formulas for figuring the weight of a released fish and this muskie adds up to be one of the largest muskies ever caught and most likely the largest
fish ever released.
There's also a good story that goes along with this monster muskie. Dale MacNair and his fishing partner, Julie Cashaback, just started muskie fishing in October of 2007 and are
proud members of Muskies Canada and the Ottawa Chapter. Dale and Julie have had the "muskie bug" since joining the club and spend most of their free time fishing Ontario's numerous
muskie waters. The couple has made many friends in the Canadian muskie community and one of those friends is Sal Rotolo, who had taken them out fishing a few weeks before that
historic November day. Rotolo, who is known for catching big muskies and Dale wanted Julie to catch a 50 inch muskie so that she could join the "50 inch Club" of Muskies Canada.
Dale had caught a 51 inch fish earlier in the year and now he wanted his companion, Julie, to join the club. Earlier in the fall, Sal had caught and released a 59 inch and
28 inch girth fish close to the same area that they were going to fish that November day.
Back to the story, dream, or premonition that MacNair had been having for the last couple of months before catching his big muskie. Dale would wake up from a dream where
they (he and Julie) were on a boat that was drifting into the rocks in stormy waters. These conditions turned out to be the exact conditions the group encountered on that
early evening when Dale caught his monster muskie.
The threesome had been trolling the St. Lawrence River and the famous "Forty Acre Shoals" near Gananoque, Ontario since early afternoon without any action in the clear
and rough waters. The group had planned to fish throughout the second night of the new moon. MacNair believes in fishing the various moon phases as much as possible.
Late in the afternoon, the group decided that a change was in order and decided to fish the area where Sal Rotolo had marked a huge fish on his electronics just a few weeks earlier.
The threesome had been trolling the St. Lawrence River and the famous "Forty Acre Shoals" near Gananoque, Ontario since early afternoon without any action in the clear and
rough waters. The group had planned to fish throughout the second night of the new moon. MacNair believes in fishing the various moon phases as much as possible. Late in the
afternoon, the group decided that a change was in order and decided to fish the area where Sal Rotolo had marked a huge fish on his electronics just a few weeks earlier.
All this time, Sal was trying to keep the boat out of the rocks in the 20 mile per hour winds and 5 foot waves as it got darker and darker after the sun set. After a few more
runs, Sal had the muskie in the net with only the middle treble hook in the top of the fish's mouth. The hooks were cut to free the fish and it was quickly and accurately
measured at 57 inches long. Then, Dale and Sal measured the girth with a tape twice (to make sure) and saw that the girth was 33 inches. About now, the reality of the
situation struck home and the group realized how big a fish Dale had just caught. This muskie was truly a fish for the ages!
Dale MacNair told me in my interview with him that he only considered keeping the fish for a few seconds before he decided to release the "monster" and get it quickly back
into the water. A few quick photos were taken and the fish was released into the water. Suddenly, horror struck Dale when the muskie turned over in the net and had some difficulty
staying upright. Dale kept working the fish and it soon turned over and almost jumped out of the cradle with a new found burst of energy. The huge female muskie had regained its
strength and strongly swam away to possibly be caught again. Sal, Dale, and Julie stayed in the area shining lights in the water in case the fish surfaced, but it was back to its
river haunts free and alive. There was no blood and the fish was released in great condition.
I congratulate Dale MacNair and his "team' for this tremendous feat. There are not many anglers who would have released a fish of these proportions. If you use the Muskies, Inc.
formula for fish (length X girth X girth divided by 800) this muskie would be over 77 pounds and easily a world record. But, I'll leave that to others to debate the size of this
fish, but it is awesome and massive. Dale is 5'11" and over 300 pounds himself, so you figure the size of the muskie.
I did do a 12 minute interview with Dale MacNair that you can find on my website (www.garyengbergoutdoors.com) with the five photos that Dale sent to me.
I'll give you the technical information in case you don't have the time to listen to the interview. Both the rods and reels were Shimano with 8 foot Compre rods and
Dakota 500 and 600 LC reels. MacNair was using 80 pound Power Pro line with a 5.5 foot Gamma Fluorocarbon leader made by a friend from Muskies Canada named Ross Nichols.
Next, came a stay-lok snap tied to a Muskie Mania Jake lure in the black perch color. Dale, Sal, and Julie all ran the same lure, but in different sizes. The lure which
Dale caught this huge fish on was 10 inch bait and they also had a 14 inch and an 8 inch lure out too. The group trolled at 2.8 M.P.H. with the 3 to 5 foot waves. The
lures were let out 195, 185, and 175 feet out without any planer boards or mast, just flat-lined. Dale's fish came on the black perch lure that was 195 feet back on a Shimano 600 LC reel.
Now, you have the details. MacNair also likes to run Drifter Tackle Stalkers and Believers and local Canadian spinner bait made by River Rat lures is also one of his favorite baits.
Dale and Julie fish many of Ontario's waters, but some of their favorites are the Lower Ottawa River, Deux Montagnes, and now the St. Lawrence River.
Another fantastic thing about the MacNair release is that the waters of the St. Lawrence River and some parts of Ontario were devastated by the fish virus, VHS. Many mature muskies
died and it is now hoped that the "Larry" (St. Lawrence River) and much of Ontario is coming back from this deadly virus. Congratulations to Dale MacNair and crew for releasing
this tremendous muskie to swim again and possibly give another angler the thrill of a lifetime!
For more fishing articles visit www.garyengbergoutdoors.com
Gary Engberg Outdoors
P.O. Box 92
Sauk City, WI 53583
Host of Outdoor Horizons on 1670-WTDY, Saturday's 8:00am-8:30am