Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Octogenarian fisher nets first musky taken from Lake Winnipeg

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John Selkirk was pulling his net out of a hole drilled in the thick ice of Lake Winnipeg last January when a really big fish plopped out.

Little did the 81-year-old commercial fisherman know, he would soon become a YouTube sensation.

And the first person known to catch a musky on Lake Winnipeg.

Muskies (muskellunges) are more commonly caught on Lake of the Woods, and were not thought to be able to get past the Pointe du Bois generating station on the Winnipeg River.

"We were lifting and we said, 'What's that in the hole?' " he said. "I said it looks like a big jackfish. We pulled it more and a big damn fish came out. It was one of the biggest fish I've ever seen."

Selkirk said he fished more for personal use this season and he did not set his nets very often. So his catch was pure luck. The fish was caught about three kilometres from Pine Dock off Little Bullhead Point.

"This stupid fish came along and landed in it," he said.

Selkirk brought the monster fish back to his Pine Dock home -- it measures almost 1.2 metres long -- and put it in his freezer, where it remains.

Word spread quickly when a family member took a photo of it and sent it to Uncut Angling, a TV show dedicated to sportfishing. A crew recently visited Selkirk's home and posted a video of Selkirk and his musky on YouTube.

Selkirk said he has no plans to mount the fish or eat it.

"I can eat pickerel. It's better."

Wikipedia describes the musky as the largest member of the pike family; it looks like a bulked-up northern pike with different markings and bigger teeth. The common name comes from the Ojibwa word maashkinoozhe, meaning "ugly pike."

In Canada, the musky's natural range is limited to Ontario and Quebec. It's found in the St. Lawrence River and southern Quebec (north and south of the St. Lawrence River). In Ontario, it's found in the Great Lakes as well as southern and northwestern Ontario.

An April 2011 report on the distribution and management of musky by the Ontario government said although muskellunge are sometimes captured in the Manitoba waters of the Winnipeg River -- downstream migrants from Lake of the Woods -- there are no established musky populations in Manitoba.

Until now, Selkirk said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2014 A7

History

Updated on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 9:26 AM CDT: Corrects photo caption.

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