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Tip-up tiger

"Hey, Honey, look what I got you for Valentine's Day!"

Tom Boise's wife must be one understanding woman, because what he came home with on the afternoon of Saturday February 14th was not a dozen roses and a box of chocolates, but rather a potential new world-record tiger muskie.

The big fish officially weighed 27 pounds, 5 ounces, measuring 45.5 inches in length and 22.5 inches in girth. Caught on an ice fishing tip-up from Otisco Lake in central New York, the fish was so large it was hauled off the ice on a child's plastic sled. A tiger muskie is a hybrid, a cross between a northern pike and a muskellunge.

"It's not an official record quite yet," said Emmett Brown, executive director of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis., "but if everything checks out as reported, the fish will be the new world-record for a tiger muskie caught on an ice tip-up, besting the old tip-up record by five ounces."

The Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame also recognizes world records for tiger muskie in two other categories: all-tackle (current record 51 pounds, 3 ounces), and ice fishing with rod and reel (current record 31 pounds, 4 ounces). The organization keeps records on more than 125 species of freshwater game fish.

Boise, of Lakeland, N.Y., started fishing about 6:30 a.m. on February 14, but didn't hook the big muskie until 1:15 p.m. "I knew it was a big fish when I set the hook," said Boise. He fought the fish for half an hour before tiring it enough that he could work its nose into the nine-inch ice hole where a buddy gaffed the fish and lifted it onto the ice.

"It was so big, for a few seconds we just stared at it in silence," said Boise. "But then the whooping, hollering, and high-fives started."

Boise eventually calmed down enough to begin telephoning other fishermen on the lake to spread the news, one of which realized the fish could be a new world record. "He advised me that if the fish was really as big as I said it was, to have it weighed on a certified scales right away," said Boise. "So I did."

The big tiger was caught using a five-inch, live shiner minnow on a #4 hook. Having fished the lake many times before, Boise was prepared for big fish with a 35-pound test main line tipped with a 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader.

Ice fishing, anyone?