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The MacNair Forty-Acre Muskie

A “Monster” muskie was caught in the Thousand Islands on November 28th by Ottawa resident Dale MacNair who was with his girl friend, Julie Cashaback, and their experienced fishing friend - Sal Rotolo of Gananoque.

Photo courtesy Dale MacNair
Dale MacNair with his 57X33 inch 40-Acre Shoal Muskie

Since the story broke, Dale has given dozens of interviews, resulting in more than two dozen citations on popular fishing web pages. This includes appearing in Chicago at the Annual Muskie Show in early January, in which he describes how he caught the fish and how his partners helped make it possible. Also, Muskie Canada invited Dale to Gananoque where he was honoured by Mayor Jim Garrah who inscribed Dale’s name on the famous Muskie Board.

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, hearing Dale tell about his catch is even better! Click on the link(s) at the end of the article and hear Dale explain how they went into “Success” mode with each member of the team having specific responsibilities. One interview in particular, “Dale MacNair's 57X33 inch Monster Muskie”, with Steve Sworrall from, tells exactly how Dale caught his fish. It is a true drama, taking into account the harsh November weather and as Dale says, “thinking outside the box”. 

Julie normally would have manned the landing net but she gave that over to Sal while she took the helm and moved the boat away from the shoal. Fortunately, the muskie was brought on board, quickly, and they measured the fish, not once but twice. It measured 57 inches long, 33 inches girth (145 cms. long by 84 cms. girth). Experts calculate Dale’s fish weighed 65.4 pounds.

 After measurement came the most-important decision of the day: keep or release?

Muskie’s are relatively rare and Muskie Canada supports the Province of Ontario in regulating both size and catch limits in order to maintain the fisheries. As a result, most muskies are released so that they will continue to help the species increase in numbers.

Dale’s interviewers all asked the same question. “How did you feel about releasing your truly record catch? And, he never hesitated. In fact, he explains how he and Julie placed the Muskie on a specially designed platform and began lowering the fish back into the St, Lawrence.

 “She rolled over”, said Dale with genuine disappointment. He knew that an improperly released fish will die. Therefore, he was elated when he turned her head and she literally flew back into waters of the Forty Acre shoal.

And what does Dale have to remember his magnificent catch - which set a new Canadian world record for the world’s largest catch and release?

Lax Reproductions of Conover, Wisconsin has reproduced the fish and has placed her in the way Dale first saw her - leaping out of the water.

By David Ray and Susan W. Smith

Editor’s Note: Muskie Canada and organizations like the Thousand Islands Association/TIA  (Gananoque,ON), Save the River (Clayton NY) and SUNY EFS’s Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS) should be proud as they created the 1000 Islands Muskie Release Program in 1987. The specially created certificate with Michael Ringer’s Muskie is still given in recognition to those fisherman who, like Dale MacNair and his fishing party, help preserve our fisheries.

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John Street
Comment by: John Street ( )
Left at: 7:05 AM Sunday, February 15, 2009
Congratulations to Dale -- both for the magnificent catch and his decision to release the fish!
Much better to think the muskie still swims in the river instead of becoming a wall decoration in someone's den.
Dan Spencer
Comment by: Dan Spencer ( )
Left at: 2:41 PM Sunday, February 15, 2009
We need more people like Dale and Sal to lead the way. By releasing this Musky where it was caught is the only way we have a chance to maintain and eventually improve the big fish population in our area. The great positive response to this release proves you don't need to keep a fish to be recognized as a great fisherman.
Dave Montrois
Comment by: Dave Montrois ( )
Left at: 5:04 PM Sunday, February 15, 2009
Thanks for releasing that fish. A trophy fish like that one belongs in the River and that was the right thing to do. Congratulations on the catch.
Rich Seidel
Comment by: Rich Seidel ( )
Left at: 8:22 PM Thursday, February 19, 2009
Yes, Congratulations. Reading of the release sure made my day. Love to hear stories like this.
Comment by: Tym ( )
Left at: 1:43 PM Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wow, excellent catch! Once again, Ontario fishing is some of the best in the world. Ontario fishing is working to keep it accessible for all people.
Mark Forsyth
Comment by: Mark Forsyth ( )
Left at: 3:59 PM Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Congratulations on a great catch and release.I too was muskie fishing on the river the same day and heard about that fish on the radio.I can remember the excitement.Back in November 2000 I was muskie fishing the St.Lawrence out of Clayton and caught and released a nice one too.It measured 55.5 inches long and an amazing 37 inches around.I sent photos to the staff at In-Fisherman magazine and requested their best estimate for a weight.They were doubtful of the girth measurement and reduced it to 31inches with an estimated weight of sixty six pounds. The photo can be seen in the Oct./Nov.2001 issue of In-Fisherman Magazine.