Swimmer Attacked By Muskie While Training for Triathlon

by Megan Molseed

When an Ontario man decided to train for an upcoming triathlon, he knew it wouldn’t be easy. But he had no idea the challenges he would soon be facing after a recent training session in a Canadian lake.

“Some crazy things have happened to me while training, but this is probably the craziest,” Matt Gervais told the Windsor Star of his recent encounter with a Muskie fish.

Last week, the triathlete was training with a friend in Lake St. Clair in Ontario when he was attacked by something very unexpected.

It was around 6:30 in the morning when the swimmer and his friend entered the water for a quick swim along the shoreline. Only a few minutes into the swim, however, Gervais felt a sharp pain in his right hand.

“It was an intense pain. Almost like burning,” the triathlete remembered.

The Muskie Thought His Hand Was A Tasty Treat

“It took me a moment to understand what exactly was going on,” Gervais continued, remembering how he felt a weight on his hand along with the pain. As Gervais looked down, he was shocked by what he saw. His right hand was clamped tightly into the mouth of a large fish.

“A real ugly fish,” he said. “Big eyes, big teeth.”

The attack, while painful, lasted just seconds. Once the fish realized that Gervais’s hand wasn’t a small tasty treat, but rather a catch that was attached to something larger, the attacker quickly let go of the athlete’s hand and swam off into the lake.

Instinctively, Gervais used his free hand to fend off the finned predator — but the attack was over in seconds. The muskie let go and swam off.

After getting his friend’s attention, Gervais received emergency medical attention at a nearby clinic. In all, the swimmer suffered several deep puncture wounds to his right hand. Gervais needed thirteen stitches to close the cuts, and one of the muskie’s teeth was removed from one of the triathlete’s knuckles.

Muskies are known in the area as being aggressive hunters. The fish is known for giving anglers a vicious fight. Muskies in the area where Gervais was bit have been known to grow as big as forty inches in length; and weigh up to twenty-three pounds.

An Aggressive Predator

The biggest Muskie caught in Ontario weighed in at a shocking sixty-five pounds. With hunters such as these hiding in the shadows beneath the water’s surface, one can begin to wonder how anyone can be brave enough to dive in among these hungry muskies. However, notes Gervais who has been training in the area for a number of years, this type of attack is pretty rare.

“It’s very rare. It’s not common. But I guess it’s hard for me to say that it never happens, now,” the swimmer said.

“I’d never been attacked by a fish in 20 years of swimming,” he explained.

“No one I know who has been swimming for as long or longer has been attacked,” Gervais continued. “It’s an irrational fear that some people have.”