A few years ago, while struggling through a muskie video shoot in Minnesota which had turned up nothing with one guide on Mille Lacs Lake, Twin Cities metro muskie guide Josh Stevenson bailed me out. Somehow, with a few precious hours to fish on a new body of water, we put two nice muskies in the boat and saved the shoot. Luck? Perhaps, but as far as I was concerned Josh was like the muskie whisperer or something. Well, last Monday, Josh whispered up a 46-inch ‘ski that he thinks (and MN DNR is trying to confirm) is a true albino. That right there is pretty rare.
Now you would think when you lead a client to a potential albino muskie, the first person you’d call is your pal Joe at F&S. But no, the Minneapolis Star Tribune broke the story (I forgive you, buddy), which prompted local media to hound Josh and angler Joe Mikalojczyk who reeled in the muskie and is holding it in the photo. Newscasters, Josh tells me, have dubbed it the “ghost fish of the Twin Cities.” What this story won’t tell you in detail is why only one photo of the catch exists, exactly how the fish was caught, and how Josh believes a white muskie managed to grow to this size in a body of water that is pretty pressured…note I’m not telling you exactly which body that was.
“The fish was glowing,” Josh told me. “When we first saw it, it was like some weird drug hallucination. What it looked like was a dead fish that had come back to life.” Thing is, Josh is a staunch muskie conservationist, so despite the rarity of the catch, he didn’t treat it any differently boat side than any other fish. “When the water is 80 degrees, you’ve got to move fast if you’re going to take a photo. I was basically screaming at Joe to hurry up,” he said. “I wanted everything done in 15 seconds. I snapped two shots. One came out blurry and the other was clear. Then we let it swim away.”
Josh was trolling a Dream Catcher bucktail that day, way, way back. “I made a long cast and still let out more line,” he said. In hindsight, he’s not surprised that this was a line the muskie hit.
“I believe a fish like that must spend more time in deeper water than other muskies because of its genetic sensitivity to the sun,” Josh explained. “But if you think about it, muskie anglers spend most of their time in the shallows. Maybe that’s why it never got hooked before. Maybe that day this fish decided to come up to the 10- to 15-foot range for whatever reason and it finally got caught off guard just as our lure came through.”
On one hand, I have to give Josh credit for releasing that catch, which likely would have ended up a skin mount had it been caught on another boat. On the other hand, the fact that DNR doesn’t have an actual fish to study means it may never be proven conclusively that the muskie was an albino. Still in all, awesome catch. Have a great weekend.