Ryan Stochl landed a muskie big enough to spook his 3-year-old on Oct. 30 — and eventually to earn Fish of the Year honors and inspire thoughts about records.
On seeing the 503/4-inch muskie with a girth of 23 inches Stochl caught from the Chain O’Lakes, district fisheries biologist Frank Jakubicek estimated her weight at 37.33 pounds from a conversion table.
He then quipped, ‘‘The Chain’s going to hold the state record shortly!’’
Stochl’s muskie was in that range. Matt Carmean caught the Illinois record — 38.5 pounds — on April 20, 2002, from the Kaskaskia River below the Lake Shelbyville dam. His muskie was also 503/4 inches.
‘‘I knew it would be close,’’ said Stochl, a substitute teacher and stay-at-home dad from Fox Lake. ‘‘I didn’t think it was worth the risk, but I did think about [getting it certified]. You know how fishing goes. They are not much different than politicians.’’
Because the fish deserved documenting, he put it in the 60-inch live well on his Tuffy boat. He then called his wife, Amanda, who was running errands with their son, Lincoln. They met at a dock. She took wonderful photos. Stochl hoped to have their son in the photos, but the big fish spooked him.