Big muskie award goes to angler with two 46-inchers

Yorkville, Ill. — Bob Taylor caught a pair of 46-inch muskies, which tied him for the largest muskie reported to DNR in 2013.

Taylor will be the recipient of the Big Fish award, which is awarded each year by Illini Muskie Alliance to the largest muskie reported to DNR’s voluntary muskie creel survey by a member of any muskie club in the state.

There were actually three 46-inch muskies reported this year, but Mark Holysz, of Wheaton, who caught his lengthy muskie on the Fox River in Yorkville, is not a member of a muskie club.

“I really hadn’t thought about it,” Holysz, 62, said of joining a muskie club. A lifelong fisherman, Holysz only started muskie fishing about five years ago.

“We’re usually out every week,” said Holysz, who mostly fishes with friend Tom Schrader, of Aurora. He does most of his muskie fishing on the Fox River in Illinois, and recalled the chilly November morning when he hooked the muskie.

He had snagged a 6-inch Depth Raider, and motored over about 25 feet away when he was able to free it.

“A second later, it hit,” he said. “At first I thought I was on another snag.”

The battle lasted about 10 minutes.

“This is the biggest fish of my lifetime,” said Holysz, whose next largest was a northern pike he caught on a fly-in Canada trip. Holysz said he would now consider joining one of the dedicated conservation clubs focused on muskies in Illinois, even though it would be too late to get a share of this year’s Big Fish award.

Taylor, a member of the Lake Shelbyville Muskie Club, is a strong believer in the conservation cause, noting the financial support both the IMTT and the IMA has provided the DNR for muskie work.

“I support their cause and what they are doing,” Taylor said. “I help out and volunteer and help out like a lot of guys do however they can, whenever they can.”

While anglers can make submissions to the muskie creel survey online, Taylor has always opted for the snail mail method, filling out the cards provided by the DNR. However, it looks like there was a slight discrepancy with his first 46-incher, which he believes he caught on Lake McMaster, but was in the DNR database as having been caught on Kinkaid Lake in southern Illinois. Taylor waits until the end of the season to fill out those cards, and in 2013, he filled out the paperwork for probably more than 20 fish, he said.

Taylor, who now lives in Lafayette, Ind., but lived most of his life in Kewanee, Ill., considers McMaster his home lake.

“I could take you to the tree I caught that fish on,” Taylor, 48, said, noting that he had noted the spring muskie swiping several times on several occasions at a black Jake.

So he changed to a crappie pattern.

“It didn’t follow that time,” he said. “It just grabbed it and it was game over.”

His second 46-incher, which, like Holysz’s fish was actually about a half-inch longer (but the creel survey does not recognize partial inches), hit a bucktail on Kinkaid in October while he was fishing with his girlfriend.

“It came at the end of two hard days of pre-fishing,” Taylor said. “It got me not looking. It was on a deep secondary point near the dam.

“It came hard at the boat. I was reeling line to get up line. Luckily it came on the right side of the trolling motor. I got the hook set. …. It was less than a minute battle.”

Taylor, who has won the most points for a season three times in the IMTT and also once won IMTT final tournament, said the trophy that he will be awarded will be displayed in his “man cave,” along with the his other trophies.

That trophy will hopefully be awarded to Taylor at the next IMA meeting on April 26, said President Ray Thompson.

There is also a traveling trophy that will spend the year with the Lake Shelbyville Muskie Club, and will be engraved with Taylor’s name.

Thompson said there were actually two, possibly three, larger muskies caught in Illinois waters, but that the anglers did not register the fish in the creel survey.

“Kinkaid had at least one 50-incher that was caught, and possibly another, and the Kaskaskia River had a 51,” Thompson said. “But they’re only eligible if they are reported.”

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