Monster Musky Caught
Inside the Outdoors, February 27
, 2015

Those who hibernate all winter long, and don’t reappear around area lakes and in and along streams throughout Pennsylvania, just may be missing big opportunities to catch fish of their dreams.

For instance, one would never find Nicholas Colangelo and his best friend, Luke Wholey, subscribing to that trend of thought. These Pittsburgh anglers love the outdoors too much to find themselves cooped up inside watching it snow, reading an occasional article on angling for one’s favorite fish or watching videos on the subject on the outdoor channel.

Not these fellows! They want to be out on the frozen crystals shacked up in an ice shanty line suspended through a hole hoping some type of aquatic species will take their bait.

“I love to fish and love being in the outdoors,” Colangelo stated from a story that aired Feb. 13 on WTAE Channel 4 News, written by Tim Williams from a news clip titled Ice Fishing Duo Reels in Monster Musky.

Fishing in Northwest, Pennsylvania, on Monday, Feb. 9, the two anglers had slept in the ice fishing enclosure overnight. Their mission was to possibly see if they could catch a state record fish, hopefully a muskellunge (musky) that would surpass the state record of 59 inches weighing 54 pounds three ounces, taken from Conneaut Lake back in 1924 as recorded by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Attaching on a 3-inch shiner to 25-pound fluorocarbon line, they hoped for the best. They knew that if they were going to catch big fish, the bait must be large enough to entice the monsters of the deep. And that it did. After waiting it out some 18 hours later, they noticed the tip of Nicholas’ rod bending toward the hole and knew something big had taken the bait.

“I didn’t see the fish for 10 minutes,” Williams disclosed in a statement made to him by Colangelo. “It then took me about a half-hour to hand-reel the fish in. We brought it through a 10-inch hole in the ice, and it barely fit through the hole,” Nicholas said. “I’ve caught a lot of muskies, but never felt anything like this before.” He stated that this was just one of four muskies they caught that day.

It may have been a keeper in size, for the state requirement is 30 inches, but the two sportsmen had no intention of taking it home. His catch – a 53-incher, estimated to be allegedly 30 years-old, would be returned to the icy waters approximately 90 seconds later after a measurement and series of photos were taken of it.

“These big fish are so rare, and so old, it’s really important that we let them go,” Colangelo said. “In three to five years, this fish could break the state record,” here again Williams said as to what Nicholas had told him.

“As for bait, we usually use large shiners, suckers and occasionally fatheads. In the summer, we have used jigs on occasion,” Wholey said.

Both avid sportsmen set their sights on catching musky wherever they go throughout the state, Luke told me. However, they have caught perch, walleye and pike, too. “We normally throw everything back,” Luke stated, “except occasional pike.”

Both gentlemen are entrepreneurs in their own right. Colangelo has contributed his worth to his family’s Strip District business, Colangelo’s Bakery, while just down the street, Luke owns Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille.

When Wholey was asked to comment on their achievement, he said, “I am so thrilled to see people get so excited about the sport especially after hearing about the decline in fishing license sales to the point of having to reduce the cost of fishing licenses.” After all, they have become the talk of their city and the boundaries beyond.

Not only did they name that famous day of the week for catching monsters from the deep, “Musky Monday,” but also proved “patience is a virtue,” – a continued future plan of attack.

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Correction: Back on Feb. 13, in a column heading, New invention propels fish, in my last paragraph, I stated, “In as much as one can fish in lakes year-around, after the above stocking, one’s adrenalin may be pumped when he tags onto one of these stocked trout that have not learned to be a bit cautious as to its eating habits. One has to return all fish, though, up to 8 a.m. April 4.” That date isn’t technically wrong, it just doesn’t apply to our locale. It refers to 18 of the southeastern counties. Trout season in our area begins 8 a.m. April 18. It is after that time on that date one can keep the fish if he or she choose.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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