FOND DU LAC - Lake Winnebago is one of the largest lakes in the country, and home to more than a dozen different types of fish.
But what a Fond du Lac man brought to the surface could be considered by some the catch of a lifetime.
On a windy Wednesday morning two weeks ago, Ray Groff wasn't catching many perch on the south end of Lake Winnebago.
"When I picked up my anchor to leave, I thought I had a piece of driftwood on my anchor," Groff said.
Groff scraped off the weeds and zebra mussels.
"As soon as I saw the mechanism in the firearm - whatever, I knew that, my goodness, what I had. It was crazy," said Groff.
It turned out to be a muzzle-loader.
"I thought as bad shape that it was, it's been there for a long time," said Groff.
Much of the gun is covered in rust, and part of the wooden stock had rotted away.
So how significant is the find? Experts say there are probably a lot of stories behind the piece of local history.
"Not too many of those trade guns survived. These would have been purchased by French fur traders who were in this region of the state. And then they would trade them for fur pelts with the Native Americans," said Scott Cross, an archivist at the Oshkosh Public Museum.
Cross says the gun is likely more than 200 years old.
"Because they were a smooth-bore type musket, they could fire either shot like a shotgun, or a round ball like a musket or rifle," said Cross.
And did we mention it may be loaded?
"That's very impressive that the flint was still there. It was at half-cock, which means it was ready to be fired at a moment's notice. So it was probably an unexpected trip for the gun," said Cross.
Groff says museums and the State Historical Society have told him the gun's condition makes it impractical to restore. But Groff says that's OK with him.
"It's not worth a lot to other people, but just catch something that's 200 years old, is pretty cool," said Groff.
Groff says he will wait until the guns dries out before he decides how he may preserve it.
He says he may just keep the musket just the way it is.
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