When Kevin Walsh first saw the musky, he didn’t want to say how big it was. But he had a strong feeling.
“I said it was 55 inches but I felt it might be 60 inches. I didn’t want to say it. I kept asking myself ‘How many 60-inchers are there?’” Walsh said. About five minutes later, he found out for certain.
Walsh, 52, of Ellendale, Minnesota, was fishing with friend Frank Walsh (no relation) of Rochester, Minnesota on October 16 on Minnesota’s Lake Vermilion when he hooked a giant musky. After it was netted, they measured the musky at 60 inches in length and weighed it in the net at 45 pounds, then released it.
The two friends traveled to Vermilion for 2 1/2 days of fishing in mid October with big muskies in mind. Kevin Walsh, who has been a fishing guide for 35 years in Minnesota’s Gunflint Trail region, said they only fish Vermilion, Mille Lacs, and Minnetonka because they’re looking for big muskies. “I only fish for muskies in the fall once I’m done guiding for the year, and we probably give up a lot of numbers by the way we fish. We’re only interested in big fish,” he said.
His largest musky before this was 51 inches, from Minnetonka.
“The lures I use are too big to cast. The smallest lures I’ve run in the last couple of years was about 12 inches long. I use all big stuff,” Walsh said. He said he modifies all of his lures by replacing the stock hooks with Musky Innovations’ Plasma Point hooks.
Walsh was trolling a gold-colored crankbait about 120 feet behind the boat when the big musky hit at about 11 a.m. October 16. The lure was bouncing a rock pile about 15 feet down when the strike came.
“Immediately it came up to the surface and we saw it in the waves behind the boat. I told Frank it was over 50 inches long, and then I saw it again and I said it was over 55,” Walsh said. “It didn’t jump and it didn’t take that long to get it to the boat. I’ve had smaller fish fight a lot harder. It went into the net real easy.”
What do you do when you measure a 60-incher? “We were pretty excited. There were lots of high-fives,” Walsh recalled.
Though they didn’t have the fish out of the water long, it took a while in the big waves to release the fish, Walsh said. “I could feel it kept getting stronger. Then it swam away on top of the water for a while before it went down. It was swimming strongly when it went.”
For the record, Walsh was using a custom 8 1/2-foot Thorne Bros. trolling rod built from a St. Croix blank, a 7000 series Ambassadeur Morrum reel, 80-pound test Sufix braided line and an 80-pound test fluorocarbon leader.
The Walshes caught two other muskies that trip that measured 54 and 45 inches.
How do you top a 60-inch musky? Kevin Walsh said, “I want heavier.
We’re talking about fishing Georgian Bay in the future.”