Joe Seeberger’s Record Setting Muskie

By Jerry Newman w/Joe Seeberger


Congratulations to Michigan angler Mr. Joe Seeberger for catching the Michigan state record, and now the new Modern Day Muskellunge World Record, a behemoth 58-pound muskie from Lake Bellaire, Michigan on October 13th 2012. The Modern Day Muskellunge World Record Program (MDMWRP) has waited over seven long years for a fish of this caliber, and we are very excited to kick off our program with this fish and such a fine and deserving angler like Mr. Seeberger as our first official entry. Larry Ramsell, founthder of the MDMWRP said; “When I viewed this truly incredible monster muskie with my own eyes, I instantly knew why we worked so hard to develop the modern-day program and that we now had a record we could all rally around”.

The certified weight is an even 58-pounds and the bump-board length a full 58-inches, while sporting an impressive 29-inch girth. The equipment that withstood the ultimate muskie test so eloquently was a 7-foot medium-action G Loomis GL3 spinning rod, a Pflueger Supreme spinning reel spooled with 200 yards of brand new 8-pound-test Seagar fluorocarbon line tied directly a size-1 Gamakatsu Octopus-style single hook. The bait was a live 7 1/4-inch sucker minnow lightly hooked through the nose, with one small single split-shot pinched to the line roughly two feet above the bait.

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An Epic Catch:
Mr. Seeberger, his brother Chuck, and friend Jason Orbeck were greeted with snow showers upon their arrival at their lake cabin on Lake Bellaire on Wednesday evening, October 10th 2012. Their quarry was the elusive giant smallmouth bass that are known to inhabit the lake in sizable numbers. There were other friends fishing from different boats and they were all having a grand time with many large smallmouth bass being caught and released by the group (one was 5-pounds 15-ounces) during the first couple days of their trip.

That fateful muskie morning the trio set out during a small hailstorm just before 8 a.m., it was cloudy and there was a good chop on the water and according to Joe, ”Perfect fishing conditions”. The day started normally with Joe throwing an artificial jerk bait lure while his boat partners were using live bait. After they caught a couple of bass on the live bait, Joe decided to switch to what was working and almost immediately hooked up with a fish about 8:30 a.m. “I felt the hit and set the hook within seconds and knew right away this was a much bigger fish than the smallmouth’s we had been catching”.

“I remember that she started coming directly at the boat swimming near the surface right away. She looked so big, almost fake, like the Jaws movie shark. She swam towards the boat coming to within 5 feet or so, and then must have realized something was wrong because she shot away like a torpedo, going airborne in kind of a sideways flip about 10 feet out from the boat.”

“It was just crazy how big this fish looked then and we immediately recognized it as a huge muskie”. They were all surprised that the fish did not get off during the awe-inspiring jump and it continued to haul and veer pretty much any way it pleased while they chased after it in hot pursuit with the 70-pound thrust bow-mounted trolling motor.

About a half an hour into the fight, feeling they might have one of the lakes true giants hooked, they decided to Google “Michigan state record muskie” and found that Kyle Anderson’s 50 lbs. 8 oz. fish was recently caught from Torch Lake, which is connected by a channel to Lake Bellaire and is part of that enormous chain of interconnected lakes. They all agreed this fish was very close to the current state record length of 56 inches and mutually decided that if they were lucky enough to get the fish in the boat, they were going to keep it. That certainly remained to be seen…

The fish simply had no quit in her and continued to make multiple journeys between the 5-foot shallows, and then right back to the depths of the 100-foot deep clear lake again and again while they continued the fight and chase. With Joe always on the rod, and everyone working as a cohesive unit, they did an impressive job of not over pressuring the fish on light tackle, yet staying close enough to avoid getting “spooled”. “At least half of the spool (100-yards) of line was always left on my reel”, Joe said.

After about an hour of this intense tug-of-war between man and fish, Joe began to get tired from the constant pressure of the doubled over rod, his arms began to ache and only keeping “good ergonomic posture” kept him in the ring with this heavyweight champ. While tracking the fish in the shallows, they were all amazed at how well camouflaged the beast was in the water. “It was almost invisible”, Joe said and depending on the angle of the sun and waves the only way they could identify the fish's exact location was watching for the sucker minnow that was still hanging from the corner of the big girl’s mouth.

Joe was beginning to wonder if this fish would ever tire, but then after more than a 1 ½- hour battle, she began to show signs of fatigue. However, the plot was only thickening because the next chapter would include trying to get this near 5-foot muskie into the boat with limited resources.

But first, while Joe was skillfully maneuvering the fish ever closer to the boat they begin to second-guess themselves. They wondered if this live log was perhaps just “a big sturgeon”. They thought this only because the fish was so much larger than any other muskie they had seen before. However, as the monster's strength began to wane, her runs became progressively shorter and less powerful and they were finally able to get a better look at her as she slowly paddled around the boat. There was no more talk of it being a “sturgeon”; it was a huge record class muskie!

For over an hour-and-a-half their only focus was just outmaneuvering the fish, thinking that at any second she might get off. Now the mood in the boat became more serious as they slowly realized they had a good shot at a potential state record. They all agreed that the best option was to try to lift the fish into the boat with the two bass-size nets, one on Joe’s boat and one tossed to them from friends Derek Barnes and Tony Mead’s boat, and with much determination, Chuck bagged one end of the fish while Jason bagged the other. But as they began to lift simultaneously, the sheer weight of the fish left them each holding only a broken empty net. Oops! Nuff said!

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Miraculously, the fish somehow managed to stay pinned to Joe’s line and it was now time to move on to plan B, which consisted of two life jackets that were tied together in a makeshift cradle. “We figured out pretty quick that they were too buoyant and we would never be able to get them below the water enough for a serious attempt”, Joe said.
Noticing these peculiar antics from another boat, friend Derek Barnes motored over to see what the commotion was all about and it was quickly decided that he would transfer into Joe’s boat to lend some much-needed assistance. Now these resourceful anglers had another set of hands aboard for plan C and together they were able to secure a rope around the middle of the almost completely spent fish. Then with one of them grabbing the head, while another grabbed the tail, and the third pulling up on the rope, the fish was brought over the gunwale of the boat at approximately 10:30 a.m.

The relief of finally getting the fish in the boat was short-lived though because once the fishes belly hit the carpet, the bell rang for one final round of desperate combat and after a few tense moments with the four men trying to subdue a large slippery fish flopping around for all it’s worth on the open deck, it was finally over. The Battle is over and the King is conqured!

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Finally, Joe was able to set his rod down and relax with his friends. What a grand feeling that must have been. The camaraderie and pride these men experienced that day is truly what sport fishing is all about. All told, it took two hours, four adults, two nets, two life jackets, some rope, and all the luck and skill these experienced anglers could muster, to conquer this Modern Day Muskellunge World Record giant in what can only be described as a one of the truly epic freshwater fishing battles of all time.