A Winnipeg man is out for revenge after a giant fish took a chunk out of his wife’s leg in northern Ontario Saturday.
Terry Driver and his wife Kim were relaxing with a group of friends on the beach at North Star Village along the Winnipeg River near Minaki, Ontario, about a three-hour drive east from Winnipeg, around 4 p.m. that day when Kim, standing in chest-deep water, let out a scream.
“All of a sudden she just said, ‘Someone’s got my leg,’ and then started screaming and her arms went up, and she went underwater and we all kind of stood there in complete disbelief and didn’t know what was going on,” Terry recalled.
It turned out the culprit was a muskellunge, or muskie, a fish that’s highly sought out because of its rarity and size. The freshwater fish can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh more than 50 pounds.
“Nobody’s ever seen one T-bone someone’s calves.”
Kim fought her way to shore, and Terry and his friends shifted from disbelief to panic mode as they saw the extent of the damage along her right calf.
“It completely engulfed her calf from pretty much knee to ankle,” Terry said.
“As soon as we saw the wound and the blood we knew it was a muskie, because we’re all fishermen out there. Nobody’s ever seen one do that before. Nobody’s ever seen one T-bone someone’s calves.”
Thankfully, the couple’s beach crew included nurses and Ontario Provincial Police officers, who administered first aid while they told Terry to get his truck and rush her to a hospital in Kenora.
“It was a pretty traumatizing experience for all,” Terry said.
“Without our family out there, and the people that helped us—basically our lake family is what it is—I don’t know what we would have done without them.”
Kim is recovering from her extensive wounds at home and was unable to speak with VICE News on Thursday.
Kim told Global News that the attack left her in “total disbelief” and horrible pain.
“I looked down and I saw the fish’s head, which looked like an alligator, and it just grabbed it and it moved me from side to side and then it pulled me under,” she told Global.
John DeLorenzo, owner/operator of the Niagara River Guide Service, said muskie attacks are extremely rare.
A member of the pike family, muskies don’t eat often and when they do, they typically go for larger prey fish.
DeLorenzo said the fish are easily spooked and will typically swim off as soon as a person makes a splash in the water, although they can occasionally be drawn to something shiny like a piece of jewelry.
“We’re a pretty big muskie fishing area in this area, and I’ve never heard of one attacking a person around here. They’re very, very rare,” DeLorenzo said.
He said expert fishers will try for days on end to get their hooks on a muskie. Because of their rarity, most who manage to catch one will release them back into the water after they’ve measured it and taken their obligatory selfie.
As it turns out, the catch-and-release game can go both ways.
“They do have a pretty big mouth and a pretty big set of teeth, even for an average size 30-pounder,” DeLorenzo said. “They’ve got a pretty good mouth, they can definitely wrap their mouth around somebody’s leg.”
Kim plans to return to the hospital for a follow up in three weeks, and for another assessment in six weeks, after which she will likely have to undergo plastic surgery to repair her lost skin.
The Drivers are avid anglers who have been going to the area for years, and they won’t let the terrifying attack keep them away.
In fact, the couple plans to head back out on Friday for the long weekend.
Kim will stay out of the water, but Terry is a man on a mission.
“I might throw a couple of muskie lures in that particular area and see if I can get a little bit of payback,” he said.
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