Most people who go fishing hope to catch the big one.
And earlier this year, that’s exactly what a 16-year-old high school student from Maquoketa did, landing what one state DNR official called “the fish of a lifetime.”
Wyatt Lindstrom and his fishing buddy, Dylan Said, decided to try their luck at Lakehurst Dam. It was a cold April day, and Lindstrom and Said had the spot to themselves.
Lindstrom was fishing for big fish, using a $19 7-inch swim bait with 50-pound braided line.
He cast his lure at the bottom of the dam, catching some small northern pike.
“I landed a couple of decent-size fish,” Lindstrom said, reeling in 30-inch and 35-inch northerns.
Than he landed a more than 4-foot monster.
The big fish did not fight much, he said, and Said netted it in a minute or two.
Lindstrom thought the fish was a muskie. But after experts with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources took a look, they concluded it was a silver northern pike.
It’s rare to catch a muskie in the Maquoketa River; it’s also rare to catch a silver northern, but not impossible, experts said.
The bean spot is the most common of the three types of northern pike in the river, according to Scottie Gritters, a fisheries biologist for Iowa DNR and the Spirit Lake Hatchery.
Less common are the striped and silver varieties.
The DNR stocks the Maquoketa River with 4,000 3-inch northern pike each year, said Dan Kirby with the DNR Manchester Fishery. About 10 percent are not bean spots, but the fish are so small it is hard to tell the difference, he said.
“We stock the inland rivers like the Maquoketa and the Wapsi, but not the Mississippi because they can get in the back waters of the Mississippi in calm water to lay their eggs. The river’s current is too fast to keep the eggs together,” Gritters said
Both Gritters and Kirby said pike grow fast until they get to about the 20-inch mark in size; then, the growth slows. Gritters also noted that the silver pike has been mistaken for a muskie a lot, even by professional fisherman.
Both Gritters and Kirby said the fish Lindstrom caught was at least eight years old, but more than likely older than 10.
Gritters, who goes fishing in Canada, has never caught a fish that big.
He sees fish every day and said Lindstrom’s catch is “the fish of a lifetime.”
Gritters applauded Lindstrom for releasing the fish back in the chilly water.