By JOHN WISSE|
ODNR, Division of Wildlife
Itís been an excellent year for Ohioís muskie anglers according to a report from the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club.
The club recognizes its members for catching large muskies. Those that measure 42 inches or more are designated "huskie muskies" and those that measure at least 30 inches are given "honorable mention" recognition.
Through June 30, there were 104 huskie muskies registered by the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club (OHMC) compared to 88 for the first half of 1999. Clear Fork Lake (35), Leesville Lake (22), and Salt Fork Lake (21) were the top huskie muskie lakes so far this year.
The catch of a 54-inch muskie in Salt Fork Lake on July 11 will show up on the clubís year-end report. Gerald Seibert, of Coshocton, landed the trophy fish which is the longest muskie ever recognized by the OHMC since it was founded in 1961. It eclipsed a 53_ inch muskie taken in Lake Milton in 1982. Seibertís 54-inch muskie weighed 44 pounds. The combination of length and weight make his fish the third largest ever in the OHMC record books.
The state record muskie, as recognized by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio (OWO), measured 50_ inches and weighed 55 pounds, 2 ounces when it was caught April 12, 1972 in Piedmont Lake by Joe D. Lykins. While the OWO used a formula of combined length and weight to determine state record fish, the basis of state record fish have been determined upon certified weight only since June 1, 1993.
Among honorable mention muskies taken this year through June 30, the OHMC has registered 429 such fish that measured at least 30 inches, compared to 442 for the same period last year. The top lakes yielding honorable mention muskies were Clear Fork Lake (164), Leesville Lake (78) and Alum Creek Lake (56).
"Itís been an excellent muskie fishing season and we could easily see a record number of muskies registered by the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club this year," said Dick Day, fisheries biologist for the Division of Wildlifeís northwest district and liaison to the OHMC.
Among the six huskie muskies taken through June 30 that qualify anglers for the 50-inch Award, three came out of Salt Fork Lake, two were from West Branch Reservoir, and one came from Piedmont Lake. Seibertís 54-inch muskie taken July 11 brings to four the number of 50-inch muskies taken in Salt Fork Lake this year.
OHMC members have been catching most of their muskies of all sizes this year in Clear Fork Lake by nearly a 2-1 margin over West Branch and Leesville Lake. The club also keeps statistics on muskies less than 30 inches. More than 95 percent of the muskies caught by OHMC members are safely released back into the water. The club has an annual awards banquet each winter to honor its members and their top catches