State record muskie taxidermied in Ironton
Jeff Lutz holds up a 34-inch northern pike to the state record Great Lakes muskellunge. The muskie measured 58 inches long, weighed 58 pounds and had a girth of just over 29 inches. Joe Seeberger of Portage caught the muskie while fishing for bass in Lake Bellaire during the fall of 2012. (Morgan Sherburne/News-Review / July 24, 2013)
This time, he has come back to pick up his trophy mount. It’s not just any trophy mount — Seeberger’s fish, which he caught in October of 2012 on Lake Bellaire, was named the new state record Great Lakes muskellunge.
The muskie measured 58 inches long, weighed 58 pounds, and measured more than 29 inches around, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s measurements.
Seeberger, a Portage resident, took it to Jeff Lutz, taxidermist and owner of Lasting Memories in Ironton, near Charlevoix. Lutz is known for high end mounts.
Lutz isn’t just finishing the fish for Seeberger. He says several organizations and stores have contacted him for replica mounts.
“Cabelas stores, Bass Pro Shops, even the University of Michigan fisheries department want mounts,” he said. “I’m making about six replicas so far.”
Lutz set the fish gliding above a bed of aquatic plants, and the entire mount is glassed in.
When Seeberger arrived to pick up the mount, he took a few minutes to check the mount over. With him was Jasson Orbeck of Battle Creek, who was fishing with Seeberger during that October trip.
The anglers were fishing for bass in Lake Bellaire when something a little larger took the bait, a seven and a half inch minnow.
“I knew it was heavy,” said Seeberger of when the fish hit. “I just thought it was a really big bass.”
Then, the fish swam toward the boat.
“It looked just like Jaws, then jumped up and took off,” said Seeberger. “I thought as soon as it jumped, the line was going to break.”
He had good reason to think the line would break: the bass fishermen were using eight-pound test.
“After a half an hour, I asked the guys to Google the state record,” said Seeberger.
The fish was big enough to smash the previous state record. Kyle Anderson of Rapid City caught a 50-pound, 8-ounce muskie in 2009, in Torch Lake — the same lake system that Seeberger’s fish was from. It was also large enough to net Seeberger a world record for the 8-pound test line class.
The anglers fought the fish for another hour and a half, carefully letting the fish run when it wanted to.
Orbeck said the fish swam up on a sandbar at one point, and was so well camouflaged, the anglers could barely see it.
“Even in shallow water, we didn’t know where it was,” he said.
Seeberger said they could only see the fish’s general location by seeing the minnow still attached to the fishing line.