New West Virginia State Record Muskie — Caught From Shore!

A West Virginia muskie angler proved you don’t need an expensive boat — or any boat for that matter — to catch the fish of a lifetime.

New West Virginia State Record Muskie — Caught From Shore!

West Virginia Assistant Fisheries Biologist Aaron Yeager (left) helps Luke King hold his new state record muskie.

On his Facebook page, 27-year-old Luke King wrote the following:

This morning my dream came true. I caught the new WV state record musky for both length and weight. She was 55 1/16 inches long and weighed 51 pounds on a certified scale. Thanks to Aaron Yeager for coming and verifying my fish, and Brady Lewis and Daniel Hoard for helping keep her alive in the net, and Becky Jackson for bringing my bump board from the house. Released back into the water.”

Luke King was out early on Saturday morning, March 19, fishing for muskies from the bank of the Little Kanawha River, in the tailwaters below the dam at Burnsville Lake in central West Virginia. King says he grew up fishing the river, and caught his first muskie at 9 years old. On this morning, he was casting a 6-inch glide bait called a Hell Hound. The river is only 100 feet wide in this stretch, but King proved you don’t need to be on big water to catch big fish. 

After fishing along the river bank for some time with no action, he made another long cast nearly across the river. He started twitching the Hell Hound over a shallow shelf near the far bank when the giant muskie hit. King has caught several muskies from this river stretch in the past, but at this point he didn’t know the true size of this one.

Unlike some muskies that immediately jump or make high-speed runs, this one simply shook its head several times and then slowly moved to the depths. Veteran muskie hunters know this could mean a decent-sized fish, so King kept his line tight and didn’t attempt to horse it in. As King fought the muskie, it soon swam toward shore. Note: As proof this wasn’t King’s first rodeo, he was properly rigged for big muskies, using 100-pound-test braid and a 175-pound-test wire leader. Steering the fish with aid of his long baitcasting rod, King finally slipped his muskie net under the giant.

King has caught 50-inch muskies before, but never one this long — or thick. Knowing he might have landed something truly special, he wanted to get an accurate length measurement of the muskie, and a weight if possible. He didn’t have a bump board (measuring device) with him that morning.

After making a few “please help me” calls to friends, one of which who knew a staffer with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), King waited on the shoreline with the giant muskie, which was now unhooked, resting comfortably in shallow water in the net. 

Aaron Yeager, an assistant fisheries biologist for the West Virginia DNR, finally arrived to meet King and check out the fish. (Note: Last year Yeager witnessed and verified the monster muskie of Chase Gibson, caught from Burnsville Lake. That fish became the new state record for length at 54 inches long; it weighed 39.6 pounds.) With King helping to hold and move the fish, Yeager measured the muskie: 55 1/16 inches long and 27-inch girth. Because Yeager had a large aerated tank in his truck, the duo was able to transport the muskie to a feed store’s certified scale in the nearby town of Gassaway. King’s muskie weighed 51 pounds. The duo then brought the fish back to the river and released it.

FYI: The previous West Virginia state record muskie for weight was caught in 1997 by Anna March in Stonecoal Lake. That fish weighed 49.75 pounds; it was “only” 50 3/8 inches long.

Congrats to Luke King on his new West Virginia state record muskie. And kudos to Aaron Yeager for helping anglers take proper care of their catches so big fish like this one can be returned to the water in good health.

Luke King’s muskie measured 55 1/16 inches long with a 27-inch girth; it weighed 51 pounds.
Luke King’s muskie measured 55 1/16 inches long with a 27-inch girth; it weighed 51 pounds.

Photos courtesy of Luke King


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