Throughout his extensive experience guiding on Webster Lake , Indiana’s renowned muskie water for 23 years, Chae Dolsen has discovered that bluegills prove to be effective bait during specific seasons.
The narrative gained even more significance on Monday morning (June 12) when he managed to catch the same muskie for the third time in less than three weeks using a bluegill.
PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tags are tiny implantable microchips that can be scanned by a reader and utilized for tracking and identifying fish or animals. Dolsen, along with two of his guides and a friend, possesses readers to document muskie catches on Webster.
“Between me and my other two guides, we had a total of 127 tag readings last year,” Dolsen revealed, having the majority of those readings. “To the best of our knowledge, we only encountered one repeat from the previous year.”
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources utilizes PIT tags to assess growth rates and make population estimates.
According to the DNR’s Webster Lake PIT Tag study, the female muskie, bearing the PIT tag number 900067000154194, was initially recorded during the broodstock survey on April 9, 2019, measuring 36.9 inches. It was then captured again on March 31, 2022, at 41.7 inches, indicating a growth of nearly 5 inches in three years and over an inch since the previous year.
Caleb Verduzco with a 43-inch muskie, the third of three catches of the same muskie on Webster Lake in Indiana by anglers with guide Chae Dolsen.
The study, which commenced in 2005, holds additional benefits, such as revealing the extensive travel of some muskie. Dolsen stated that seven or eight muskies tagged in Webster were subsequently caught in James, with one outlier making its way to Oswego, the most distant lake in the system.
The question of whether the same fish is frequently recaptured remains a subject of debate among anglers.
A prominent local example revolves around the striking similarities between the appearances of two smallmouth bass catches. Joe Capilupo caught the Illinois-record smallmouth bass weighing 7 pounds and 3 ounces on October 14, 2019, in Monroe Harbor, while Ryan Whitacre caught a smallmouth bass weighing 6 pounds and 2.4 ounces on October 19, 2016, in Diversey Harbor.
When asked if he believed similar instances had occurred in the past, Dolsen recalled, “I think I caught a fish on Skinner three or four times, but without tags, you can’t be certain.“