Toronto Angler Absolutely Floored by ‘Unheard of’ Catch

by Sean Griffin
(Photo By Dennis Anderson/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

Angler Will Sampson and his friend went out for a day of fishing in the Toronto Harbor on Sunday. Sampson reeled in something completely unexpected—an incredibly large muskie.

“We were just rolling along. Got a couple [of pike] right off the bat, and as we were jumping around to spots, and when this fish hit–like judging by the weight and how it hit–I can tell it was a good fish,” Sampson told CTV News Toronto.

“I just assumed it was a big pike, obviously.”

Sampson reeled in the fish and initially thought it was caught in the line because of the excessive weight. Then he noticed what color it was.

“Once I saw it was a muskie, my knees immediately became like jello. They just, like, buckled,” he said.

A video by local news outlet CTV News Toronto can be seen below. In the video, Sampson explains the encounter and provides footage of the huge muskie.

A muskie, also known as muskellunge, is a type of fish related to northern pike. Muskies are typically a light silver, green or brown color with stripes. The northern pike tends to be darker and owns lighter markings.

Angler Will Sampson Talks About Huge Muskie

The angler Sampson estimates the catch was 43-and-a-quarter inches and weighed a little under 20 pounds. However, he added he didn’t have the necessary equipment to weigh the fish. While it’s a decent size, he notes muskies can reach the mid-50-inch range.

“We knew it was a unicorn like obviously there’s muskie in Lake Ontario, [but] in Toronto Harbor it’s super unheard of,” Sampson said. He also said it’s common to find bowfin in these waters, and every now and then anglers will spot a walleye around the harbor.

Sampson, a sporting fish guide who says he has been fishing his entire life, tells CTV Toronto he’s caught muskie before. However, this is the first time he’s caught one in this area.

He couldn’t explain exactly why there was a muskie in the Toronto Harbour. However, Sampson noted there are a lot of them at the mouth of the Niagara River. They also congregate near the other end of Lake Ontario, near Kingston.

Muskies once thrived in the waters surrounding the Toronto Islands about 200 years ago, according to the City of Toronto.

“After the arrival of Europeans, a host of changes resulted in the destruction or deterioration of fish habitat,” the city’s ‘Fishes of Toronto’ guide reads.

“A total of 15 exotic fish species were either intentionally introduced for food and recreation, or invaded through navigational canals or ballasts of ocean-going ships. Today, populations of most native fishes have declined dramatically and 10 species have disappeared entirely.”