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The World Record Musky Alliance, an Illinois-based group that wants Louis Spray's world record musky disqualified, has released a "rebuttal" to the National Fresh water Fishing Hall of Fame's decision to uphold Spray's record.
The rebuttal states that the alliance:
• No longer recognizes the Hall of Fame, in Hayward, as a viable international record-keeping entity.
• Joins the Florida-based International Game Fish Association in recognizing a 67-pound, 60 1/4-inch musky caught by Cal Johnson in 1949 as the world record, pending authentication and review by the alliance.
• Calls on the Hall of Fame to either immediately disqualify Spray's record musky - listed at 69 pounds, 11 ounces and caught on Wisconsin's Chippewa Flowage in 1949 - or turn the matter over to an independent professional arbitrator for review.
"This is not the WRMA against the Hall of Fame," said Jerry Newman, founder of the alliance. "It's the WRMA authenticating the brass ring of our sport. It's all about the fish."
Rich Delaney, president of the alliance, said: "We feel our evidence, as presented to the Hall of Fame, stands."
In October, the alliance filed its protest, which included a photo-analysis that concluded that Spray's fish was only about 56.6 inches long, not the 63 1/2 inches that Spray had claimed. The alliance asked the Hall of Fame to disqualify Spray's current world record, plus his two previous world record muskies.
In January, the Hall of Fame announced that its board of directors had voted to uphold Spray's record, citing photo-analysis opinions from two math professors - Dorian Goldfeld, of Columbia University in New York and Joseph A. Gallian, of the University of Minnesota-Duluth - as supporting the length of Spray's fish.
In February, Goldfeld and Gallian, along with Douglas N. Arnold, of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, sent a letter to the Hall of Fame saying that their work was inconclusive and calling for a panel of experts to examine all photos of Spray's fish to arrive at a more definitive conclusion.
The alliance's rebuttal states: "Should the Hall choose to follow their own experts' advice and impanel a wholly independent group of photogrammetrists and mathematicians to evaluate all information available, evaluating all known photographs in their original format, the WRMA agrees to unequivocally accept whatever conclusion these independent experts might arrive at."
Emmett A. Brown Jr., the Hall of Fame's executive director, said of Gallian and Goldfeld: "The bottom line is, their conclusion still is the fish, based solely on photo-analysis, very well could have been 63 inches."
Brown rejects the idea of an independent panel.
Brown said that photo-analyses, affidavits and other documentation, and photos of the Spray's mounted musky all support that the fish was as big as claimed.
"I'm very comfortable with the decision that we made," he said.
Brown called the alliance "a small group, a handful of musky zealots." The group has about 50 members, according to Delaney.
"I don't believe that the WMRA and their supporters are in the mainstream," Brown said.
If the alliance wants to challenge the Hall of Fame board's decision, they have to comply with the hall's new protest policy which requires a $1,500 "protest fee" intended to discourage frivolous protests, Brown said.
The alliance contends that, since its original protest was not properly addressed, no further protest is necessary. "We consider our current protest of Mr. Spray's records unresolved, open and pending," the rebuttal states.
In a related matter, Muskies Inc. International endorsed the creation of a Modern Day Muskellunge Word Record Keeping Program at its meeting in Minneapolis earlier this month.
The program was developed by Larry Ramsell, a longtime fish historian with the Hall of Fame who resigned to protest the way the hall handled the challenge to Spray's record. Ramsell has assembled a committee of musky experts who would review applications from people who catch or have caught muskies, 60 pounds or bigger, or hybrid muskies, 40 pounds or bigger.
"We all agreed that we needed a program that could establish credible and justifiable records," Ramsell said of the committee. "We think it will be good for the modern musky angler."
Old, unverified records would be listed in a separate category called "historical and legendary" fish, said Ramsell, a former member of the alliance.