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Despite the sheer odds, Travis Tourond couldn’t help but wonder if he had an old friend on the other end of the line.
It had been a year since Tourond had landed the biggest fish of his life — a 57-inch muskie on the southern end of Wabigoon Lake which ranked as the 14th largest Muskie in the world for 2010/11 according to the online blog Tech ‘n Tackle. Fishing the exact same spot, where he had returned the approximately 50-pound bruiser back to the lake, Tourond had once again hooked into something huge.
Comparing the photographs from 2011 and 2012, even the shoreline features are the same.
“I’d made a super long cast and was probably 65 yards out and I was reeling in a crankbait which just went underneath the water maybe a foot. Then all of a sudden the water just erupted,” said Tourond. “All I could think of was, ‘that’s him, that’s him!’”
Landing the fish after a two-minute battle, Tourond’s measurements found this particular fish to be 55.5 inches. Thus far his 2012 catch stands in fourth place in the world rankings (Tech ‘n Tackle).
“It was a way better fight than my bigger one,” he said. “It felt like forever, I had a lot of line out. Once you get them into the net, there’s a whole other fight just to get them out. I’ve got a 14-inch lure hanging out of his mouth with three giant hooks. It’s scary trying to get a hook out of a big muskie. If you ever got hooked into your hand and that fish was still on there, it would rip you apart.”
An ardent catch and release angler, Tourond says the fish remained in the boat just long enough for some measurements and a few quick photographs.
Tourond is understandably wary about revealing his spot, saying that the area is a bit counterintuitive to what most muskie anglers are looking for.
“It’s kind of a rocky flat with a few scattered weeds — I don’t know what it is about that spot. It’s not a spot that you’d go and catch a lot of fish all the time. It doesn’t look like anything special. It boggles my mind but, for some reason, the big fish are using it for something.”
Press attention from Tourond’s 2011 catch earned him a sponsorship from rod-makers St. Croix, who recently featured him in a full-page advertisement on the back page of a prominent Muskie fishing magazine. He says it was a dream come true for a dedicated angler. Between his girlfriend Roberta Lappage and himself, they landed 18 muskies in the past season.
The 28 year-old angler and guide says he thinks Wabigoon has the best chance of all the regional lakes to produce a world-record sized fish. “There are definitely bigger fish out there,” he says. “Wabigoon, Eagle and Lac Seul all have a good abundance of baitfish for the fish to eat — lots of ciscos, smelt, whitefish and perch. And they have the body of water to grow large in.”
By Chris Marchand