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13-year-old muskie angler catches two fish of a lifetime in as many days on Lake Plantaganet

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 54 photo 1.jpg
Noah Moss, 13, of Aitkin, Minnesota, landed this 54-inch muskie Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, on Lake Plantaganet near Bemidji. He'd landed a 51¾-inch muskie the previous morning. Noah's 54-inch muskie is currently in first place in a big fish contest sponsored by Muskies Inc. The winner of the contest will get a free graphite replica mount of their winning big fish. The fish also leads the Juniors Division in Muskies Inc.'s listing of big fish entries for the year.
Contributed/Jordan Moss
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Brad Dokken
Brad Dokken

BEMIDJI – Ask any serious muskie angler, and they’ll probably say that a 50-inch muskie is a fish of a lifetime.

They’d be right, of course, but 13-year-old Noah Moss topped that benchmark twice – in as many days.

Not bad for a young angler who’ll be in eighth grade this fall.

Noah, of Aitkin, Minn., landed and released a 51¾-inch muskie about 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, during a family vacation to Balsam Beach Resort on Lake Plantaganet near Bemidji.

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He then released a 54-inch “mega-monster” – as his dad, Jordan Moss, called it – the next morning.

As Noah tells the story, he hooked the 51¾-inch muskie off the edge of a weedline where his dad had raised a large fish the previous evening. Fishing with his great-uncle, Dave Eichelberger of Champaign, Ill., Noah says he’d reeled his lure about halfway back to the boat when he felt the strike.

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The muskie, which Noah says “didn’t feel the biggest” at first, hit a small version of a Muskie Innovations “Swimmin’ Dawg” swimbait.

“Then it starts really fighting, and we see it surface, and we’re like, ‘Oh, the fight’s on,’ and my Uncle Dave’s trying to grab the net,” Noah said.

The battle lasted 2 or 3 minutes, Noah says.

“That was really great, because my dad was about 50-60 yards away in his boat, and he just came over and we were super excited,” Noah said.

A measure on the “bump board” put the muskie at 51¾ inches long. The fish absolutely destroyed the swimbait Noah was using.

“My uncle said that I stayed super calm, and that’s probably why we got the fish in the net,” Noah said.

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Noah Moss 51 3-4 inch muskie photo 2.jpg
Noah Moss, 13, of Aitkin, Minn., gets a hand from his great-uncle, Dave Eichelberger of Champaign, Ill., on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, after landing this 51¾-muskie on Lake Plantaganet near Bemidji.
Contributed/Jordan Moss

Another day, another trophy

The next morning, Noah and his uncle were fishing a patch of cabbage weeds when it happened again – also on a small version of a Muskie Innovations “Swimmin’ Dawg.”

This fish hit at 7:45 a.m.

“He says, ‘Uncle Dave, I got one,’” Eichelberger said, recalling his great-nephew’s second big fish. “I turn and look, and once again, there was a huge boil out on the water, so I laid my pole down and I went to get the net. His pole is just doubled over. I knew it was a good-sized fish, but I didn’t know how big it was.”

At first, Noah says, he didn’t think it was as big as the muskie he’d landed the previous day.

“He was just playing it cool there and fighting the fish,” Eichelberger said. “The fish came up, kind of laid on its side out in the water, and I looked at it, and I’m like, ‘Holy crap, that fish is bigger than the last one!’

“I think I got more nervous than Noah did because I saw how big it was,” Eichelberger added. “Fortunately, he brought the fish up to the boat and I made a stab with the net and he swam right in it. The rest of it was history. There was just a lot of celebrating going on, and it was just unbelievable how big that fish was. … It was an incredible time, that’s for sure.”

Noah then called his dad, who was fishing nearby, to take photos and bring the bump board to measure the fish. The muskie just touched 54 inches on the bump board.

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Jordan Moss, a 2009 graduate of Bemidji State University who fished Plantaganet as a college student and caught his first 50-inch muskie there, says he and his uncle the previous day had tried to put the significance of catching a 51¾-inch muskie into perspective for Noah.

“I talked to him about how that was a fish of a lifetime,” Jordan said. “It makes us wonder, like, holy cow – here we thought yesterday was an awesome day and now to have back-to-back days like that was just incredible.”

Noah releasing 3.jpg
Noah Moss releases the 54-inch muskie he caught Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, while fishing Lake Plantaganet near Bemidji.
Contributed/Jordan Moss

Noah landed both muskies during a “major moon” phase, when muskies are believed to be most active, Jordan says.

“Believe what you will – whether it has a major influence or not – there’s something to be said there with that story, too,” Jordan said. “Two giant fish on back-to-back days within minutes of each other in the same moon phase and in a totally different area of the lake is just kind of ironic.”

Noah’s 54-inch muskie is currently the biggest fish of the year in all three divisions – men, women and juniors – of a Muskies Inc. competition in which the angler with the biggest fish wins a graphite replica. If he wins, Jordan says, they might get graphite replicas of both of Noah’s fish.

If not, they’ll “for sure” get a replica of at least the 54-incher, he says.

“We’ll see where it lands, but it will definitely be right up there, I would say,” said Jordan, who is the youth coordinator for the Brainerd Lakes Chapter of Muskies Inc. “Looking at the history data, he’s going to fall somewhere in the top 12 all-time biggest fish caught by a youth angler, as well. That’s even more exciting because that’s Canadian fish, U.S. fish, and there’s a lot of Canadian fish that get entered into that database, too.

“It’s a pretty cool accomplishment for a 13-year-old kid.”

Family connection

The fact that his son caught the big muskies while fishing with his Uncle Dave makes the whole experience even more special, Jordan says. Eichelberger and his wife, Karen, started the annual family fishing vacation tradition several years ago, Jordan says.

As avid muskie anglers, they always pick a destination with good muskie fishing potential, often in the Bemidji area.

“My uncle was a big supporter of me and fishing when I was a kid,” said Jordan, whose parents separated when he was just a boy. “It was just a really unique deal. Dave was with me when I caught my first muskie and has been with me on many other muskie catches and now, for him to get to net Noah’s first giant muskie and then the next day, catch another one that was even bigger, and he was also able to net that fish and be with him, is just kind of a special thing for all of us.

“Dave has been a major influence in my life as far as a father figure, especially with fishing. So, it’s really kind of cool to have us all be together there on that trip and just make that all happen together.”

While Noah is quickly joining the ranks of muskie fanatics, he’s keeping the significance of catching two fish of a lifetime on consecutive days in perspective. Before the trip, he’d caught two muskies in his life, the largest measuring 43½ inches.

As Eichelberger says, catching two muskies that size on consecutive days is probably like making three holes-in-one while playing golf.

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.

“I think I’m just going to keep trying to catch fish,” Noah said. “I mean, if I catch a bigger one, well great, but I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while.”

But then again, part of the allure of fishing is the anticipation of what could happen – or, in Noah’s case, could happen again. It’s almost an afterthought, but he also caught his personal-best crappie on the trip with a 14¼-inch slab.

“I’m just so proud, and he’s such a sponge,” Jordan said. “When it comes to fishing, he takes whatever anybody’s ever really told him and he just absorbs it and it’s funny how fast he retains things.

“He’s definitely come a long way, and I can’t wait to continue to see all he does.”

Besides Noah’s two muskies, the family also sighted “20 to 40” muskies during the week, and Jordan landed a 38½-inch fish on the last day.

The trip is one the family will always treasure.

“I’m super grateful for my Uncle Dave and my dad for bringing me out and just helping me through everything to catch those fish,” Noah said. “I wouldn’t have caught any of those fish without their help.”

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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