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Local anglers land a lunker
Oct 10, 2012 12:00 am
It’s a long way from Middle Tennessee to the St. Mary’s River in Michigan, but it was a memorable trip for Mt. Juliet fishermen Glen Pillow and Gary McSwain.
Pillow and McSwain were on their annual fishing trip this summer, headed back the dock after a long day on the water, when something suddenly hammered a big Hellbender plug Pillow was trolling behind the boat.
“When it rolled on top of the water it looked like a dinosaur,” says Pillow.
After a furious battle Pillow brought the giant fish alongside the boat, but the fight wasn’t finished.
“It was too big to fit in the net,” Pillow says. “Finally we got its head in and Gary lifted it up and together we rolled it into the boat.”
And there it thrashed: a huge 51-inch musky.
Pillow and McSwain measured the fish, posed for a photograph back at the dock, then released it.
“I’d guess it weighed around 30 pounds,” Pillow says. “I’d caught only one other musky a few years ago, and this one was a lot bigger.”
McSwain has been fishing the St. Mary’s River some 50 years, and got his fishing buddy Pillow hooked on joining him seven years ago.
“It’s a trip that we look forward to every year,” Pillow says. “We haul our own boat up to the fishing camp we stay at, and spend a week on the water. We catch walleye, smallmouth and Northern pike. We knew there were musky in there, but you don’t catch many of them. That’s why this one was so special.”
Up North the musky is known as the “Fish of 1,000 Casts” because it’s estimated that’s about how many casts are made to catch one of the elusive fish that are famous for their fighting ability.
Fishermen are known to cast all day just to get a “follow” – a musky trailing a lure to the boat.
The musky is native to many Tennessee waters, including Daddy’s Creek and the Obey River where they are known locally as “jackfish.” Years ago the TWRA launched a musky-stocking program in several lakes, including Dale Hollow, that has started producing some big fish.
Pillow says he has never fished for Tennessee musky, preferring to do most of his area angling on Old Hickory Lake, casting for bass. He says he had a good summer of fishing despite the heat and drought.
But even though there is good fishing to be had practically in their back yards, Pillow and McSwain continue to be drawn to the icy waters of Michigan.
“It’s something different,” he says. “Different scenery, different atmosphere, and the fishing is great.”
Pillow says he never considered keeping the big musky for a trophy mount.
“I had the thrill of catching it and we got a good photo of it,” he says. “That’s all I need. I like to put fish back and hope that someone else will get the thrill of catching them.”
That “someone” might be Pillow or McSwain, during next year’s trip. The giant musky will probably still be there – bigger and meaner and ready for a re-match.