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It’s a Fish Eat Drum World!

One thing I love about my job is I hear a lot of fishing reports and fish stories.  I never get tired of them, especially if there are some pictures to go along with them.  One hit my computer yesterday, and I have to share it with you.  In fact I will do some editing, but let you read the message that Tyler E. sent to me:

Howdy Mr. Bauer,
I thought you might find this interesting.. My friend Seth W. and I were at Merritt Reservoir recently attempting to catch a muskie, when we noticed something floating about 100 yards away.  We cruised over and saw that it was a GIANT muskie with a freshwater drum that had to have been at least 15-20 inches long and probably around 5 pounds stuck in its throat!!  I attempted to net her and it snapped like a twig (Editor’s note: I believe he was referring to his net snapping like a twig), so I reached in to pull her out of the water and realized she was still alive!  Once we got her on board, we yanked the drum out of her throat and I got her back in the water and started reviving her.  After a couple minutes, she finally kicked a couple times and slipped out of my hand.  I tried to grab her, but she sank to the bottom and we never saw her again.  I sure hope she survived, but I may never know for sure.  She was a beautiful fish and even though we had a tape and a scale on the boat we never measured or weighed her.  It sure would have been nice to know how long and heavy she was.  It was an awesome trip even though we did not catch a single other fish, “lol”.  Anyway thought you would find that cool.
I do find that “cool”, very cool!

Here is a picture of the fish:

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And here is another view of the drum caught in its throat:
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Tyler did not say if the drum survived.  Ha.

He went on to say that he guessed the fish to be 44-50 inches long and weighed at least 30 pounds–the heaviest fish he had ever handled.  Although the guys did not catch that fish, they were thrilled just to come in contact with such a beast.  I would have been too!

Sometimes predator fish overestimate the size of prey they can consume.  I have shared similar stories here on my blog, another one included a walleye with a drum stuck in its throat, Bit Off More Than She Could Chew.  Most of the time when that happens, both the predator and the prey fish perish.  I am guessing the muskie that Tyler and Seth found would have been history if they had not found her when they did.  Who knows if she ultimately survived, but at least she got the chance and the fact that she quickly swam away is a very good sign.  If she had no injuries, chances are she just needed to clear that drum from her throat so she could respire.

I told Tyler and Seth “thank you” for what they did, and they very well may have the opportunity to see that fish on the end of their lines again someday!  If they do, I am betting I will see more pictures that they take before releasing her!

The freshwater drum that muskie tried to eat was nearly, if not, big enough to qualify for a Nebraska Master Angler award itself!  Again I will say that I am a big believer in big baits = big fish (Optimal Foraging Theory).  Predator fish like muskies, and others, will consume any prey that is small enough to fit through their throats.  That often works out to consumption of prey up to 40% and even 50% of their own body length depending on the species of predator and type of prey.

I especially believe in big baits for big fish in the fall.  Right now fish are feeding, getting ready for the long winter ahead and in many species already developing eggs and milt for next year’s spawn.  They need to take in as much energy as they can right now and eating large prey items results in a greater return of energy per energy expended.

Are you using baits that are big enough?  Where can I find an artificial that looks like a 5-pound drum?

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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