As he battled his musky, Captain Jason Quintano had no idea the fish he had hooked was as long as it turned out to be. “If I had, I probably would have had a heart attack,” he said. Once the musky was unhooked and he started picking it out of the net, “she just kept coming.”
Quintano’s musky ended up measuring 57 1/4 inches long and is the new Michigan Ontario Muskie Club record in its release division, thus making it the longest known release for the fabled water.
Quintano, 40, of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, grew up on Lake St. Clair and has fished for muskies for about 30 years. He has run Fins & Grins Muskie Charters for the past 10 years, but never before had he put a musky in the boat as large as the one he got August 16.
Joined by clients Tom Rued and Rob Hummel of the Appleton, Wisconsin, area, Quintano set up his boat to fish over cabbage weeds in about 18 feet of water. The muskies in the area were targeting schools of gizzard shad that measured six to eight inches long, he noted.
The anglers were still in their first drift of the day and had already boated a musky when Quintano felt a “tick” on his line as a fish hit his Pounder Bull Dawg.
“It was just a ‘tick’ and then it got heavy,” Quintano recalled. “I fought her around the outboard and had to free-spool her three or four times. Anytime she was pointed at the boat, she did what she wanted. I brought her to the boat once, but had to free-spool her back out because I could see she had two hooks in her, but she was barely hooked.”
Quintano said it was likely the third time he brought the musky to the boat when Hummel made a big scoop with the net and secured the fish. Both thought the musky would measure between 53 and 54 inches until Quintano picked it out of the net.
“We put her on the bumpboard and I said ‘Whoa’,” Quintano said. “I then put her back in the net and called Spencer to come take photos to verify it.”
Charter Captain Spencer Berman was about a quarter-mile away and immediately drove his boat over to Quintano’s, then jumped in to take photos. They didn’t weigh the fish, but Quintano said it had a 22 1/2-inch girth. “I would estimate it weighed 40 to 42 pounds,” he said.
After photos, they released the giant. Quintano said his largest musky prior to this was a 54 3/4-inch fish, though a client once caught one that measured 55 5/8 inches.
Quintano said his Bull Dawg was painted in a sucker pattern with an orange tail. He was using a Stealth fluorocarbon leader, a nine-foot Chaos Shock & Awe rod and an Abu Garcia Revo Toro Winch reel.
Interviewed by Musky Hunter four days after catching the big fish, Quintano said “it doesn’t feel real. It just hasn’t sunk in yet.”
However, he believes there are bigger fish to catch in Lake St. Clair. “I saw one about four years ago that I think was bigger. It was just a freak. Another time I had clients out who have fished all over and they raised one they said was the biggest they’ve seen in their lives.”
To contact Charter Captain Jason Quintano, visit finsandgrinsmuskiecharters.com