Swimmer Attacked By Muskie While Training For Triathlon, Gets 13 Stitches In His Hand

A man with sunglasses on a beach

The legendary Kenny Powers once spoke out against triathlons by saying “I play real sports. Not trying to be the best at exercising.” 

Had this guy followed that advice and avoided training for a triathlon then maybe he wouldn’t have been attacked by a fish.

Matt Gervais, a triathlete from Windsor, Canada just outside of Detroit was training in nearby Lake St. Clair when he was reportedly attacked by what was presumably a Muskie, one of the larger freshwater fish in North America and perhaps the most aggressive.

He was just a few minutes into his swim when he felt the jaws of a large fish clamp down on his right hand. Peering into the water he could see his fingers tangled in a mess of sharp teeth.

“Your mind goes immediately to shark but I still had my wits about me to know that was unlikely.”

The underwater attack only lasted about 5 seconds, but it left his hand bloody and injured. He was able to elevate his hand out of the water and swim to a nearby dock and climb on shore. Gervais was able to flag down the homeowner who helped clean the wound.

He then made his way to a nearby medical center where it took 13 stitches to get his hand patched up.

Gervais says that once the wound heals he’ll get back in the water and continue training in the lake, although the experience re-emphasized the importance of never swimming alone.

“It’s not going to scare me away from doing it. I’ll be back out there.”

Are Muskies Dangerous?

While Muskie attacks on humans are somewhat rare, they’re not unheard of. While the fish aren’t big or dangerous enough to fatally injure people, they’ve sent plenty of them to the hospital for stitches.

The full name for the species is Muskellunge, although its often shorted to Muskie. The name is an Ojibwe Indian word which means great fish.

They are fierce ambush predators with bodies perfectly evolved for their hunting style. They have elongated torsos and a broad flat head that give them a missile like appearance in the water. They are typically about 2 to 4-feet long and generally weigh between 15 to 36 pounds. However, they do get much bigger than that with documented cases of fish reaching lengths of 6-feet and weights of 70-pounds.

Muskies eat some of the largest prey known to be consumed by any freshwater fish, and anglers targeting trophy fish often catch smaller muskies about the same size as their lures. Because of their huge stomachs, they are capable of consuming prey up to 2/3rd of their body length.

Muskies will eat just about anything they can get sink they’re teeth into, including muskrats, rats, mice, frogs, ducks, snakes, and a wide variety of fish, including other muskies. Oftentimes they’ll attempt to steal fish from fishermen, and they have even been known to attack swimming dogs.

If you have any doubt about the predatory power of the fish, check out the video below.

A beer bottle on a dock

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A beer bottle on a dock