Muskie takes a bite out of triathlete training in Lake St. Clair

A Windsor triathlete was attacked by a muskie while training in Lake St. Clair over the weekend but 13 stitches later, he says he will not be scared away from open water swimming.

'Your mind goes immediately to shark,' said Matt Gervais

Matt Gervais, a Windsor triathlete, received 13 stitches from a presumed muskie bite while swimming in Lake St. Clair Aug 13. (Darrin Di Carlo/CBC)

What was meant to be a typical Friday morning training session for a Windsor swimmer, turned into a fight with one of the larger freshwater fish found in the Great Lakes region.

Matt Gervais, who has competed in triathlons for more than 20 years, was bitten by what he believes was a muskie in Lake St. Clair.

Early Friday morning, Gervais was out for a three-kilometre swim with a friend. About five minutes into the swim, he felt the jaws of a large fish clamp down on his hand. 

"Your mind goes immediately to shark but I still had my wits about me to know that was unlikely," said Gervais, who described the pain as sharp and intense.

Looking at the fish through the water, he could see its teeth gripping three of his fingers and part of his hand.

Gervais says it was over quickly. He managed to free himself after about five seconds, but his hand was covered in blood and badly injured.

Swimming on his back, with his injured hand in the air, he and his friend made it to shore — approximately 45 metres — to the breakwall of a home on Riverside Drive. They climbed a steel ladder to reach the backyard where the homeowner helped clean the wound.

Gervais finally made it to a nearby medical clinic where his wounds were closed with 13 stitches.

Windsor swimmer attacked by muskie in lake

2 years ago
Duration 2:10
Featured VideoA local triathlete was attacked by a muskie while swimming in Lake St. Clair on Friday morning

Gervais says he has no intention of getting in the water soon because of the wounds, but he won't be deterred.

"It's not going to scare me away from doing it. I'll be back out there," he said. 

His advice to other open water swimmers? Never swim alone.

With files by Darrin Di Carlo