On Saturday, March 19, West Virginia angler Luke King landed a 55-plus-inch muskie below the dam at Burnsville Lake that bests the current state-record fish by an incredible 11 pounds. It’s the third time the state-record mark has been topped in the last 5 years.

It’s almost as if the muskies in West Virginia are getting bigger and bigger each year. Last year, muskie fishing guide Chase Gibson caught a monster at Burnsville Lake on his day off from guiding. Aaron Yeager, an assistant district fisheries biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, drove over to verify that catch, and Gibson claimed a new state record at 54 inches long and 39.6 pounds. Joe Wilfong had pulled the previous record from the Little Kanawha River in 2017. That fish was 53.5 inches long and 34.6-pounds, so Gibson had smashed the old record by 5 pounds and 14 percent.

But King has blown that fish out of the water. Weighed on certified scales, his fish went a whopping 51 pounds, more than 11 pounds heavier than the previous record and 16 pounds heavier than the one before it. That’s 29 percent heavier than Gibson’s record haul of last year and 47 percent heavier than Wilfong’s fish in 2017. King stated on his Facebook page that none other than Aaron Yeager, who did the honors the year before with Gibson, made the official measurements.

The largest member of the pike family, muskellunge, or muscallonge, milliganong, maskinonge, muskie, or musky, depending on where you are from (or Esox masquinongy if you are a scientist), are famously one of the most difficult freshwater fish to land. Known as the “fish of 10,000 casts,” it takes the average angler 50 hours of fishing to hook a legal sized muskie. 

But landing a trophy, or better yet a record, can be the angling adventure of a lifetime, described by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Bureau of Fisheries Management info page as “the aquatic equivalent of having a tiger by the tail.” They ought to know in Wisconsin. That’s where Louis Spray caught the world record in 1949, weighing in at 69-pounds, 11-ounces.  

Since we’re doing the percentages, that’s 37 percent heavier than King’s new record in West Virginia. But King isn’t complaining. He stated on Facebook, “This morning my dream came true. I caught the new WV state record musky for both length and weight.” 

And if the record muskies in West Virginia keep falling at this rate, the Mountain State will soon be giving Wisconsin a run.