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Angler’s catch of record muskie a ‘shock,’ and a testament to habitat work

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A fisherman in West Virginia helped prove the habitat work being done in Burnsville Reservoir is effective by catching a muskie that was certified as a state record for length.

Chase Gibson, a fishing guide who was fishing with a friend at the lake between Clarksburg and Charleston, landed a 54-inch muskellunge that weighed 39.6 pounds, as reported by Gibson’s Guide Service and WFXR-TV.

The fish surpassed the old mark of 53.5 inches (a 34.58-pounder) caught by Joe Wilfong in the Little Kanawha River in 2017.

“I’m still in shock,” Gibson wrote on the Facebook post about the catch.

Gibson told WFXR-TV he was fishing a timbered cove with a lot of crappie suspended on the timber, and that it was barely hooked with one treble in the corner of its mouth.

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“It didn’t take very long to get her in the net,” Gibson told USA Today/For The Win Outdoors. “She ran straight to the boat and did almost wrap me around a tree and my trolling motor. But as soon as I got around those obstacles my good friend Frank Porupski was ready to scoop her up.”

Gibson recognized it could be a record, so he phoned West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to certify the catch while keeping the fish submerged in his large net alongside his boat.

Biologist Aaron Yeager responded and certified the fish as a record for length, then tagged and released it.

“It feels humbling to catch a fish of that size in West Virginia,” Gibson told FTW Outdoors.

It was also a proud moment for Yeager, who is one of the biologists who manages the fisheries at Burnsville where the primary goal is expanding fish-holding areas.

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“The record is a testament to the habitat work we’ve done for that reservoir,” Yeager told WFXR-TV.

“Think how cool it would be if another angler hooks that fish in the fall and sets a new state record.”

Burnsville Reservoir is also known for its huge crappie and population of largemouth bass.

Photos courtesy of Gibson’s Guide Service.

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