An Ontario man caught and released a potentially record-breaking walleye earlier this month fishing at a creek mouth near Dryden.
After a morning of unsuccessfully fishing for crappies (a type of small freshwater sunfish), Robert Monty, his wife, and a couple of friends decided to try their luck at hooking some walleye at the creek.
“We got there about 3 o’clock,” Monty told the CBC. “It was about eight feet of water, and we set up our lines.” Monty made holes in the ice and set up a couple of jigging rods, and then settled in to wait. Then, just as the sun was starting to go down, the action started. One of his rods started to move, and his friend Sheila Sjodin called, “Robert, you’ve got a fish!”
It turned out it wasn’t just any fish. As Monty began trying to reel the fish in, he quickly discovered it was a strong one.
“It ran about two or three times on me,” Monty said. “My friend was looking at me and I said ‘I think we have something big here.'”
As he wrestled the fish up, he found its head hardly fit through the hole, and one of his fishing mates had to help pull it clear. “My eyes popped out,” Monty said. The monster walleye was 36 inches (91 centimetres) from tip to tail.
“It was a big girl.”
Walleye are considered by many to be both difficult to catch and delicious to eat, so this particular fish was very lucky that Monty was only looking for a few photos and not a meal. After he snapped a few shots of himself holding the big fish, he released it back into the water.
As he found out later, the fish may have actually been a record holder. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters fishing registry says the largest walleye caught on record was 36.5 inches long, with a girth of 21 inches. It was caught in 1943.
Monty, whose previous personal walleye record was 30 inches, doesn’t regret letting the fish go, even if it might have put him in the Ontario record books. He says he’s just happy to have beaten his personal best, and to have the photo.
“Just a picture and a memory,” he said. “There’s always a bigger one out there. But that’s my biggest.”