When 18-year-old Travis Heiberg went out to Clark Center Park in Oak Ridge on Wednesday, he already planned to catch a big fish. After all, that's bound to happen when you hit the water with guide Cory Allen, a renowned fisherman when it comes to muskellunge, Heiberg said.
"It was mostly just a day to go out and relax," he said. "But everybody goes down for the biggest fish you can, and (muskies) really are the biggest you can get."
The two had been out on the water for about three hours when Heiberg reeled in a 52-inch musky on Melton Hill Lake. But was it a state record? “I've been fishing since I was 1 years of age," Heiberg said. "My dad would take me and stake me to the ground with a harness around me to keep me from getting in the water and put a rod in my hand. So I’ve been fishing every day since."
Allen said he took Heiberg out fishing a few years back and has watched him grow up since about eighth grade. He graduated from Oak Ridge High School just last month.
"I didn’t get to spend as much time hanging out with him as I like," Allen said. "The cool thing about that fish was the fact that Travis caught it."
Cory Allen (left) and Travis Heiberg pose with a 52.5-inch Muskellunge on Wednesday. Heiberg caught the fish and released it at Clark Center Park.
The two were on the water Wednesday working on promotional videos for Eastfield Lures when they noticed the fish.
“The fish I caught flashed out in front of us about 8 feet from the boat," Heiberg said. "Then it came up for a second strike and took the bait,” Heiberg said he is more than 6 feet tall, and the fish still caught him off guard. "That's when you have to widen your stance and really fight against the fish and work with it at the same time," he said.
The two had been out on the water for about three hours when Heiberg reeled in a 52-inch musky on Melton Hill Lake. But was it a state record? When Heiberg got the fish on board, he and Allen took some measurements. Allen said submitting a fish for state record status is difficult. According to the state record application, an "angler has the right to release the fish and not submit it for a state record." To apply for a state record, though, an "examination will likely result in the death of the fish," the application says.
While Allen said he thinks requirements should be changed so the fish do not have to die the process, Heiberg said he's not worried about breaking any records.
“That’s not my intentions when I go out," he said. "I'm just always looking to catch another fish."
"I'd rather just have the fish live or at least go back in the wild another day," Heiberg said.