Mighty Musky Records Rescinded

by Lou Bignami

I suspected Arthur Lawton's 35 year old, 68 pound 15 ounce musky record was bogus when I heard he'd cut the fish up and given it away. Then I interviewed a local who claimed the scale on which the musky was weighed once weighed in a newborn child at 27 pounds. However, both the International Game Fish Association and the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame listed the record. The former grandfathered the record in from the old FIELD & STREAM contests. The latter did the same. John Dettloff set up the research to show these compounded when Walter Dunn, a witness to the catch, claimed in a recent interview that he neither saw the fish nor the weighing.

Photo evidence completed the case. Experts noted the record fish's markings exactly matched an earlier photo of a smaller fish AND forensic photography folks showed the fish was no more than 57 inches long. Lawton claimed 64 1/2 inches.

At this point a prior Wisconsin fish holds the record. It's apparently genuine although some claim it wasn't properly taken because it was shot, and others claim it was purchased from Indians. One thing seems certain, records generate their own aura of uncertainty. It's fairly clear, for example, that one record bass was reeled in by the holder's wife and there are reports of fish caught and weighed with diving weights inside. I can't really fault all this. My brother and I used to win jack smelt contests by pulling fish to increase their length. Isn't competition wonderful?