Record fish caught in Mississippi River off Pierce County
A Whitewater man broke a Wisconsin state fish record and he did it in the Mississippi River in Pierce County.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Donald Peyer reeled in a 6-pound, 4.8-ounce sauger on April 2 near Lock and Dam No. 3.
The fish, which measured 23.75 inches long, weighed nearly half a pound more than the previous record sauger of 5 pounds, 13 ounces.
The key characteristic for distinguishing sauger from walleye is the crescent-shaped spots on sauger dorsal fins.
"It was a pretty good fight," says Peyer. "The fish took it (bait) back under the boat."
Peyer had been fishing for three days on the river with family and friends, and the group had been planning to leave at 11 a.m. that day when the fish bit around 10 a.m. on an artificial bait.
Peyer wrestled with the fish for a while and then landed the sauger, much to the delight of his fishing companions.
"Wow! That's gotta be a state record," Peyer recalls them saying. "I said, 'I doubt it.'"
He thought the fish was a walleye and was about to release it back into the water because he doesn't keep walleyes over 6 pounds for eating. When his nephew noticed the fish bleeding, Peyer decided to keep it.
His son pulled alongside in another boat and said, "Let me see that big fish. Oh my God, it's a sauger."
DNR fish biologists confirmed that the catch was indeed a sauger. The key characteristic for distinguishing sauger from walleye is the crescent-shaped spots on sauger dorsal fins. Walleye have no such spots.
Asked for any advice on how to catch a state record fish, Peyer, who's been fishing for most of his 57 years said, "You just gotta fish to catch them. I never catch any if I don't go."