by Dennis Dalman
Jaws dropped when 9-year-old Katelyn Hammer of Sartell caught – by accident – a huge muskie.
“I caught a big one!” Heather shrieked with excitement from the dock. Her cousin, Joey Hammer, 11, of Lakeville, who was fishing on the other dock, heard Heather and ran to help her.
In the meantime, adults had just finished a birthday cake in the lakeside home and were sitting by a window of the lakeside home, watching the children fishing. The adults knew something “big” had happened and hurried for the door to see what it was.
When they saw what is was, their jaws dropped with amazement. When they learned how it happened, their jaws dropped again – in virtual disbelief.
Here’s what happened:
On the weekend of Sept. 21-23, Mike and Heather Hammer and their two daughters – Heather and Michaela, 11 – drove to Lake Shamaneau near Motley to spend some time with Mike’s family. They had all chipped in to rent a cabin on the lake to get together and to celebrate Ken Hammer’s 85th birthday. Ken is Mike’s father.
On the early afternoon of Saturday, Katelyn was fishing from a dock when she nabbed a sunfish. She reeled it in and tried to get it off of her hook, but the hook was too deep and so she left the fish in the water on the line until someone could come and help. Seconds later, there was a thunk-and-splash sound. Katelyn, looking down, was in a sudden state of shock. She saw a monster fish at the end of her line. In swallowing its morsel – the sunfish – the muskie had hooked itself. That’s when Katelyn began screaming about her big fish.
Joey helped her lift the muskie out of the water. Joey’s dad, Jeff, measured the fish. It was a mind-boggling 50 inches long. Then, right after taking a couple of photos, they let the muskie go back into the lake.
“I freaked out,” Katelyn told everybody. “I thought at first that muskie was going to pull me right into the lake.”
Another source of amazement is Katelyn was using her fishing rod that had just recently been glued together until she could get a new one. Those at the lake were stunned the rod did not break in two with such a struggling monster at the end of it.
Little did the Hammer family know at the time that Katelyn’s catch would make the news far and wide. Mike’s sister put a photo of the muskie, Katelyn, Joey and Jeff on her Facebook page. Someone at Channel 5 News in the Twin Cities saw the Facebook photo. Then it came to the attention of the producers of the news-features show, “Twin Cities Live.” The producer called the Hammers and invited them down to the studio for a taping session. So the Hammers, along with Joey, drove to the TV station where Joey and Katelyn were interviewed. The segment aired last week, and Katelyn and Joey enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame.
“The kids (Joey, Katelyn) had a blast down there at the TV station,” Heather said. “It was so neat watching it later on TV.”
Katelyn, a fourth-grader at Oak Ridge Elementary, was an instant “celebrity” last week in school. Teachers who had seen the Channel 5 broadcast congratulated her. Students did, too, and they couldn’t wait to see the photos Katelyn brought to class.
When asked who takes credit for catching the humongous muskie, Katelyn and Joey are both quick to answer.
“We both did,” they say. “It was a team effort.”