The catch of a lifetime
Healy reels in a monster surprise in world-record brown trout
In a timeless battle with Tom Healy, a monstrous fish surged up and down the Manistee River on Wednesday morning.
''There is no concept of time when fighting a fish like that,'' Capt. Tim Roller said. ''Maybe it was 10 or 15 minutes.''
That ''fish like that'' will end up as truly timeless as the world record brown trout of 41 pounds, 7 ounces.
It was so big it couldn't even jump. ''It tried to jump but only porpoised,'' Roller said.
The morning started ordinarily enough with Roller of Ultimate Outfitters (ultimateoutfitters.com) fishing with two clients of 15 years, Healy and Bob Woodhouse, for king salmon.
They were casting crankbaits inside the river near Manistee, Mich., and had caught some kings.
About 8:30, Healy, the retired president of a construction company, hooked into his fish while casting a No. 7 black and gray Shad Rap.
The fight was ''super hard, then when it was done, it was done,'' Roller said.
Only at the end did the truth of the matter start to sink in: this was far more than a 20-pound-plus king.
''You just don't think of a brown with a fish of that size,'' Roller said.
The belly looked white as is typical of a fresh king when it came to the net, then they saw the spot pattern. Roller's first thought was maybe an Atlantic salmon, then he knew and did not believe.
''I knew what I was looking at but I couldn't get my mind to believe it,'' Roller said.
They got it into the net. Then the brown trout bottomed out Roller's 30-pound BogaGrip scale with 15 or 18 inches of the fish still in the water.
They measured it at 44 inches with a 27-inch girth.
Roller knew he had something special, so he called fellow Capt. Mark Chmura, the king of those who chase big browns. When Roller told him what he had, Chmura pulled his trip off the river and got a certified scale. On that scale it topped 40 pounds.
The world record, according to the International Game Fish Association, is the 40-pound, 4-pound brown caught by Howard Collins from the Little Red River in Arkansas on May 9, 1992.
''We looked at each other,'' Roller said. Chmura started making calls and doing research. They called fisheries biologists in Cadillac, Mich. Todd Kalish and Mark Tonello came and watched as the scale was reset and witnessed the official weighing at 41-7.
''I was in awe,'' said Kalish, the Central Lake Michigan Management Unit manager. ''It is an amazing fish, one of the nicest fish I ever saw.''
They measured it officially at 43?253-222? inches.
''This is a real testament to the world that Michigan has very diverse natural resources available,'' Kalish said. ''Among that diversity you have potential to catch a world record.''
Lake Michigan is no stranger to monster browns. The Illinois record (36-11.5) was caught by Deva Vranek off Chicago on June 22, 1997.
Because the fisheries biologists were there to help with the paperwork and formally identify it as a brown, Healy's fish is already considered the Michigan record and should be the world record as soon as the proper paperwork is submitted.
As scientists, Kalish and Tonello were so excited they gained permission to take some scales and already aged the fish at 6 years old. They also took a tissue sample so Michigan State staff can analyze for what strain it is. Kalish wondered if it might even be a wild strain.
''The reality of it is, I was pretty doggone lucky,'' Healy told the Grand Rapids Press.