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A Record Muskie That Didn’t Measure Up

By Kastking | 27 March 2018 | 0 Comments

A Record Muskie That Didn’t Measure Up

The University of Minnesota’s Institute for Mathematics and Its Applications is better known for giving seminars with titles such as “Probability and Statistics in Complex Systems” than it is for angling expertise.

Nevertheless, in 2005, IMA director Douglas Arnold was contacted by the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame with an unusual request. The fishing organization sent Arnold a grainy 1949 black-and-white photograph of a fisherman named Louis Spray, holding what was supposed to be a 63.5-inch-long, 69-pound, 11-ounce muskie (also spelled musky), big enough for a world record. Fifty-six years after the fact, Spray’s veracity had been questioned by a rival record-sanctioning group. The actual mounted fish had been destroyed in a fire in 1959, so it was no longer possible to recheck it. The hall of fame wanted Arnold to find a way.


According to an account published on the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Web site in 2006, Arnold, who was an avid fisherman, used Spray’s height of 6 feet and comparative geometry to calculate that the muskie in the picture most likely had been well short of the length claimed by Spray, and thus probably was below the claimed weight as well. Nevertheless, to Arnold’s chagrin, the hall of fame decided to let Spray’s record stand. In fact, according to the hall’s Web site, it even continues to display a replica of the fish in its Hayward, Wisconsin, museum.

Now go out and fish for a record pike!

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