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Matt Carmean’s record muskie

April 20, 2002

Illinois hunting and fishing

Big Fish Info

Species: Muskie

Size: 38 pounds, 8 ounces, 50 3/4 inches

Date: April 20, 2002

County: Shelby


There are anglers in Illinois who would give a tooth—if not a vital organ—for the state muskie record.

Those diehards spend endless hours pursuing the elusive muskellunge. When they aren’t on the water they swap stories about toothy monsters.

How ironic, then, that the state muskie mark appears to have been once again broken almost by accident.

Fishing Saturday morning below the Lake Shelbyville dam, Matt Carmean of Mattoon landed a 50 3/4-inch muskie that weighed 38 pounds, 8 ounces on a certified scale. That’s better than the official record caught by Chris Kim in 1997 at Lake Shabbona.

Kim hooked his record while fishing for crappie, though he also had a muskie-enticing 4-inch sucker under a bobber. Carmean’s catch was arguably more unexpected.

’‘The ironic thing is he had bought $100 worth of muskie lures and caught this fish on a twister tail,’‘ said fisheries biologist Mike Mounce.

And though the Department of Natural Resources must review the entry before declaring it official, Carmean was understandably excited Monday.

’‘I was telling my friends, I didn’t hit the (Big Game) lottery last week and win $300 million, but at least I won the fish lottery,’‘ he said.

Carmean’s big hit came while fishing for walleye on the east side of the spillway, at the edge of a fence that keeps anglers a safe distance from the dam. His rig included two eighthounce jigs tipped with twister tails and a bell sinker at the end of the line.Illinois hunting and fishing

The muskie - estimated to be 9-11 years old - hit the bottom jig, which was yellow and had a yellow twister tail.

’‘I let it go all the way to the bottom and just pumped my rod every few seconds. He or she just took it and went,’‘ said Carmean, 30. ’‘I had caught an 8-pound walleye earlier in the day and this fish went way deeper than that.’‘

Carmean fought the toothy critter for 45 minutes before fishing partner Nate Toranzo of Shelbyville finally charged into the waters of the spillway to help land the muskie.

’‘We didn’t have a net or anything and once I saw that fish I told him we’re not going to lose this one,’‘ Carmean said. ’‘Afterwards my shoulder felt like it was going to fall off.’‘

Initially, Carmean’s chief concern was making certain his fish surpassed the 48-inch minimum length for Lake Shelbyville muskies.

’‘I was so excited I just wanted to get it mounted and hang it on my wall,’‘ said Carmean, who regularly fishes the spillway. ’‘I didn’t even think about it being a record.’‘

After talking with other anglers and a few bait-shop owners, Carmean realized his fish might be special. A scale at DeBuhr’s Seeds and Feeds in Mattoon confirmed that suspicion.

’‘It was a big fish for sure,’‘ said Bernie DeBuhr, who weighed the muskie Saturday and claims his scale is accurate to within an ounce. ’‘The state is here once a year to inspect our scales and they never have to adjust them.’‘

That the 50-inch fish had a girth of 26 inches helps confirm the weight. In fact, according to, a muskie with those measurements could weigh more than 42 pounds.

No matter, a final verdict won’t be rendered until Mounce reviews the entry and the state tests a tissue sample. (NOTE: Testing proved the fish was indeed a muskie).

Between now and then, though, you can bet a few muskie maniacs will change plans to head south for Lake Shelbyville.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was published in the Peoria Journal Star on April 23, 2002

Your CommentsComments :: Guidelines :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Nice Muskie. Very very nice. Ive never caught one though Ive tried. But wow congrats. If you have any tips message me at hockeytown96 on yahoo. same for email. Thanks.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/10 at 04:49 AM

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