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'Uncle Dave' shares the story of his great-nephew's 2 big muskies

I’ve been fishing most of my life, but those two days are a highlight reel I will play over and over in my head.

Noah 54 photo 2.jpg
"Uncle Dave" Eichelberger (left) of Champaign, Ill., helps his great-nephew, Noah Moss, hold up a 54-inch muskie the 13-year-old angler from Aitkin, Minn., caught Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022.
Contributed/Jordan Moss
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BEMIDJI – This fish story could not have happened to a nicer young man, my great-nephew, Noah, who turned 13 this year. It was our family vacation 2022 in northern Minnesota, where I met up with my nephew and his family and headed to a cabin we rented for a week on Lake Plantaganet.

I had planned to mostly crappie fish and do a little muskie fishing. On the way to the cabin, Noah rode with my wife and I. Of course, we talked about fishing, and I told him he was going to catch his personal best crappie this year. After getting settled in, we went out crappie fishing and the first one in the boat was a 14¼-inch crappie by Noah. A personal best for him, just like I hoped for. Others were caught and cleaned for a meal during our stay.

My nephew, Jordan (Noah’s dad), had been out muskie fishing and said he had a couple of follows, so Noah and I (Uncle Dave) decided we would go fish for muskies the next morning. At 6 a.m., we were in the boat heading to the area where fish had been seen. I told Noah to get the net ready because we were going to need it.

We pulled up on the area and Noah snapped on his favorite “Swimmin’ Dawg” by Muskie Innovations, and I put on a bucktail spinner. An hour and a half into fishing, Noah said, “Uncle Dave, I got one!!”

I looked in his direction and saw a large boil on the surface of the water so I quickly reeled in and set my rod down and grabbed the net. The fish stayed down so we didn’t know how big it was. After about a minute, the fish surfaced and thrashed on top of the water. This was a big one! Noah’s pole was bent in half. He was playing the fish as a seasoned muskie fisherman would – calm and cool. He raised the fish up so I could net it. The fish was in the net and the celebration started. “Whoo!” – it sounded like Rick Flair was there.

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Noah’s dad was fishing close by, heard the commotion and came over to help measure and take pictures – 51¾ inches long, Noah’s personal best!

I told Noah that this one would be hard to beat. After high fives, hugs and tears, we continued to fish. No more luck that day.

The next morning, we decided to try our luck at muskies again. We decided to fish in a different area where the wind had been blowing into the shoreline. The net was ready, but Noah’s favorite bait was destroyed by the fish caught the day before, so he snapped on another Swimmin' Dawg in a different color and we started the drift.

Twenty four hours from the previous day’s fish, once again, Noah says, “Uncle Dave, I got one!”

I see the boil and put my rod down to grab the net. The fish was staying deep, and Noah stayed calm and fought it like a pro. When it surfaced, we knew it was a giant, and it started shaking its head. Noah kept the pressure on, and the fish made a dive for the bottom. I was nervous and didn’t want to miss the fish with the net or let it get hung up.

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Noah Moss of Aitkin, Minnesota, landed and released a 51¾-inch muskie about 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, on Lake Plantaganet near Bemidji. He then released a 54-inch “mega-monster” the next morning.

Noah brought the fish up and I lowered the net just in time for it to swim in. Holy cow, it was truly a giant!

Noah called his dad to come over and the celebration was on. We put the fish on the bump board and I couldn’t believe that it measured 54 inches long and was very thick. Just when I thought yesterday’s fish would be his personal best for a long time, he now had a new record. Pictures were taken and the fish swam away to fight another day.

I’ve been fishing most of my life, but those two days are a highlight reel I will play over and over in my head. Unforgettable!!

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Thanks, Noah, for fishing with Uncle Dave!

An avid muskie fisherman, Eichelberger lives in Champaign, Ill.

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