Big Monster Muskies are here in Illinois

Yes there are Big Monster Muskies here in Illinois.  And John Campbell from Sherrard, Illinois proved it this past Friday  Shortly after catching his trophy, Campbell reached out to me to tell his story.

"I got on the water around 10 am on Friday, May 22nd."Campbell said.  "Beautiful day, light clouds and wind 5 to 10 miles per hour."

Campbell was fishing Lake Storey which is a long narrow reservoir just north of Galesburg.

The air temps were around 75 degrees making for a perfect morning.   Water clarity, Campbell said was around 3 or 4 ft.  After spending about a half hour on the water Campbell had no fish in the boat, no bites, not even a blow up or a follow.

"I was in a spot I don't work very much because I concentrate on weeds and structure."   He explained that it was an open spot off shore by around 20 yards with a depth of 8 to 10 ft of water.

"I was using a black firetiger double showgirl bucktail."

Finally, he saw some action.

"I saw her follow it and position herself under the back of my boat, I couldn't see the size of her, only her head. I went into the figure 8 and brought it around right in front of her nose. She just opened up and sucked it in. It was unbelievable."

Campbell set the hook with all of his might.   The fish came up and just laid on the surface.  But only for a moment.

"She dove down and took drag, the farther she went the stronger she got. I got her on my small 7 ft. St. Qroix Avid rod  with a Shimano Curado reel.  I use it  when my wrists hurt so it was quite a battle."

The fish ran 4 times to deeper water.   Campbell didn't want to try to net the fish too early cause he has a small net.  Under those circumstances, you only get one shot at netting the fish.  The only way he could get the fish in would be having it come in from his left and netting it with his right hand.  He'd get one swipe, that's it.  If he gets the muskie going in head first, the fish will be his.

"I did so perfectly and she went right in. It was truly amazing. I didn't even realize what I had done till I got off the water. When it set in on the way home I was pretty excited.  I look at the pics and hear people talking about it and just can't imagine it.  It's definitely a memory that I will cherish and remember all of my life."

Campbell said that the fish was just over 50 inches long and guessed the weight to be about 30 pounds.  After he was able to get some photos of the fish, it was released.

Thia was Campbells second year fishing for muskie.   A friend of his took him muskie fishing for the first time at the same time last year, just a week earlier.  It was then when he caught his first muskie, a 49 incher that came from under the boat.  My guess is that this is when Campbell got hooked on muskie fishing.

Thanks for sharing your story John.   Congratulations on a great catch and thanks for letting these fish back into the water for others to enjoy catching.

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