A self-taught muskie fisherman, Joe Mikalojczyk was hoping to hook a limit of professional advice recently when he cruised the Internet looking for a guide to show him some new tricks.
“Usually I take a vacation to fish muskies up north on Leech Lake or Winnie [Winnibigoshish], but I couldn’t this year, so I thought I would hire a guide around the metro,’’ Mikaloj- czyk said.
Mikalojczyk’s online search paid off Monday when he boated a 46-inch behemoth that appears to be an albino muskie while fishing with guide Josh Stevenson, owner of Blue Ribbon Bait and Tackle in Oakdale and Mighty Musky Fishing Guide Service (www.mightymusky.com), headquartered at the same location.
(An aside: “Muskie’’ and “musky’’ are the same fish with two different spellings, both acceptable. The Star Tribune’s style is “muskie.’’)
Department of Natural Resources officials haven’t confirmed the fish’s unique status, and likely won’t, because Mikaloj- czyk, of Coon Rapids, and Stevenson released the muskie shortly after it was caught.
But the best bet is the fish was an albino, an extremely rare catch.
“I didn’t keep it out of the water long,’’ Stevenson said. “Just a quick photo, and we released it.’’
Mikalojczyk, 23, is a peanut butter salesman who hasn’t fished as much as he would like this summer.
“Fishing is the way I relax,’’ he said. “Last summer I would put in an eight-hour day, rush home, hook up the boat and fish for eight hours.
“This summer, I haven’t been able to do that as much.’’
Stevenson is the current state record-holder for tiger muskies and is a frequent fishing buddy of Larry Dahlberg’s. Stevenson has appeared on Dahlberg’s TV show, “The Hunt for Big Fish,’’ during which Dahlberg fishes throughout the world for big (and often times very weird-looking) fish.
Stevenson also has starred on a Field and Stream video after leading a writer from that publication, Joe Carmele, to a metro muskie that was Carmele’s biggest — this after Carmele struck out while fishing muskies for a few days on Mille Lacs.
“I met Josh Monday morning about 5,’’ Mikalojczyk said. “We had been on the water for about two hours before I caught the fish.’’
The pair had been casting before deciding to troll for a while.
Mikalojczyk was pulling a big bucktail when the whitish muskie hit.
“He was a strong fighter,’’ Mikalojczyk said. “He was pulling my rod down like crazy. It took about five minutes to get him close to the boat. When we did, the fish looked like a ghost. It was whiter than anything I’d ever seen.’’
The muskie was the color of a northern pike that has been lying dead on shore for a while, Mikalojczyk said.
“But it was very much alive. It was a strong fish.’’
Neither Stevenson nor Mikalojczyk thought about keeping the fish, despite its unique coloring.
“Muskies are so hard to catch,’’ Mikaloj- czyk said. “You get a lot of respect for them after a while.’’
Inspired by the experience, Mikalojczyk fished a different metro lake by himself until midnight Monday.
“I didn’t catch anything,’’ he said. “I’m looking forward to booking Josh for another trip this summer.’’