Matt Forjohn poses with prized muskie before it was released. Photo courtesy of Outdoor Life

On a cold and gray afternoon last week on the St. Lawrence River out of New York, Matt Forjohn reeled in a muskellunge that probably will earn the angler an all-tackle world record.

The mighty muskie taped out at 130 centimeters, or 51.18 inches, making it the longest of the species ever submitted for record approval.

And what’s refreshing about this story is that the fish was not killed. After the measurement, Capt. Bob Walters carefully plopped the fish back into the river and watched it swim away.

Forjohn, if the Pennsylvania angler’s catch is approved by the International Game Fish Association, will claim the all-tackle length world record.

That’s a fairly new classification intended to promote more quick releases, versus the kills that commonly occur when anglers pursue a weight record, because a certified scale is required for those catches.

The muskie caught by Forjohn exceeds the current record—a fish caught in 2011 on the Ottawa River—by a mere two centimeters.

Walters, whose motto is “Muskies… everything else is just bait,” said he followed IGFA requirements and measured Forjohn’s catch on an IGFA-certified board. The fish was measured from its lip to the “V” of its tail.

[Related: angler grinds out Goliath catch]

“We submitted all the paperwork to the IGFA, and when they saw the picture we sent them they said it looked like we had the record,” Walters told Outdoor Life. “Who knows, though? It’s pending.”

The IGFA typically takes weeks before approving or declining record submissions.

Muskies are an extremely popular game fish in the northeastern U.S. and Canada, but they’re also extremely elusive.

Forjohn was trolling a big, walleye-pattern swimbait when the behemoth struck near where the St. Lawrence begins on Lake Ontario.

“That was the third muskie I’ve ever caught,” he said. “I’ve caught a 38 and 48 inches. I couldn’t believe it when they told me this one might be a world record. … We’ll just have to wait and see if it’s accepted.”

Remarkably, the all-tackle weight record—67 pounds, 8 ounces—was set in 1949 at Wisconsin’s Lake Court Orielles.

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