Iowa’s oldest female muskie caught after dodging nearly 2,000 nets

Wildlife officials in Iowa said the oldest known female muskie in the state was caught after 20 years — apparently dodging capture nearly 2,000 times in that time.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said the 46-inch female muskellunge — better known as a muskie — was caught in a Fisheries Bureau net 20 years to the day after the last time it was encountered by officials.

The 25-year-old fish is the oldest known muskie living in Iowa waters, officials said.

The fish, which was 33.4 inches long when it was first netted, managed to evade nearly 2,000 capture attempts during those 20 years, officials said.

“A total of 1,996 net sets were conducted from 2002-2020 within the Okoboji lake chain, and that fish was never recaptured. This year, as part of our broodstock collection, we recaptured her for the first time since 2001,” fisheries research biologist Jonathan Meerbeek told McClatchy News.

Meerbeek said it’s highly unusual for a muskie to be so elusive.

“The lack of capture is also intriguing to us. Fish that are 15 years old or older often have been in the hatchery several times,” he said.

The elusive muskie is now back in the water, officials said.

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