A Winnipeg woman is healing at home after being left with significant injuries in a rare musky attack near Minaki, Ont., last weekend.
Kim Driver says she was wading about chest-deep into waters last Saturday when the unthinkable happened.
“All of a sudden I just felt something tap my left leg, like brush it, and then next thing I know it just took a hold of my right leg,” said Driver, an avid angler who has been a seasonal camper in Minaki since 2007.
“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.”
Driver says she called out and friends and family came rushing to help her, before taking her to the hospital in Kenora.
“All of a sudden she just went, ‘somethings got my leg’, and then her arms went up in the air, she went under the water screaming,” her husband Terry Driver told Global News.
“How do you even know what to do? We’re in Minaki, Ontario, it’s the Winnipeg River; nothing attacks you there.”
Driver was left with scrapes on her leg and severe puncture wounds in her calf.
“I was in total disbelief and the pain was just unbelievable,” Driver said. “I wouldn’t wish it on anybody to go through what I’ve gone through, because the pain was just horrible.”
Driver is now at home waiting for her wounds to heal before undergoing plastic surgery. She says it may be some time before she works up the confidence to go in the water again.
“I’m going to go back out this weekend, but I have no intentions of swimming,” Driver said.
“But maybe give me some time. We’ll see.”
Muskies, the largest member of the pike family, are a species of fish that are sought after by many anglers and can grow over 50 inches long. They’re rare to catch and are often referred to as the “fish of 10,000 casts.”
Darcy Cox, who runs Tank Industries Guide Service out of Kenora, Ont., says people getting bit by muskies is rare, and an attack like this is even more rare.
He says often when people get bit, they usually only have a hand in the water or are dangling their feet in the water off the dock.
“That’s an extremely unusual incident if half or three quarters of her body was in the water — crazy that that even happened,” Cox said.
“For sure (it was) a giant musky. I haven’t seen the bites myself, but it’s going to be a big one if it’s something that’s attacking a full person in the water.”
Cox says muskies have poor eyesight, and could have mistaken part of her leg for a fish while it was hunting.
“They have really bad eyesight, they use their lateral line which is something that senses vibration instead of their eyes usually to hunt, so it couldn’t tell the different between what it was biting and a fish or a duck, and grabbed her leg,” he said.
“It could have just mistaken (her leg) if it was moving and it was just zoned in on her calf,” he said.
“Muskies will eat up to three-quarters of their body length, so the rumour goes. A good portion of somebody’s leg just looks like a big long pike or musky or big walleye, big whitefish, so that’s probably what happened.”
Cox stressed that muskies biting people is an extremely rare incident, and people shouldn’t be afraid to go in the water because of it.
“I’d say it happens maybe once every five to 10 years,” he said. “It’s so unusual that she was almost all the way in the water and it still bit like that. Usually it’s hand flapping in the water, a foot flapping in the water, and even still, that’s so rare.”