Monthly Archives: February 2014

Mammoth Northland Lake Trout Might Set A World Record

Rob Scott saw the flag on his tip-up spring up. He assumed a lake trout had taken his dead shiner minnow and was swimming away with it.

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune

rob scott with 50lb 3 oz lake trout
Rob Scott of Crane Lake holds the lake trout he caught Feb. 8. It was 45 inches long with a 32-inch girth and unofficially weighed 52 pounds, 3 ounces on a hand-held scale. Scott said he was fishing on Lac La Croix northeast of Crane Lake when he caught the fish. (Rob Scott photo)

Rob Scott of Crane Lake holds the lake trout he caught Feb. 8. It was 45 inches long with a 32-inch girth and unofficially weighed 52 pounds, 3 ounces on a hand-held scale. Scott said he was fishing on Lac La Croix northeast of Crane Lake when he caught the fish. (Rob Scott photo)

Rob Scott saw the flag on his tip-up spring up. He assumed a lake trout had taken his dead shiner minnow and was swimming away with it.

Scott, of Crane Lake, took his time getting to the tip-up. But when he pulled it from his fishing hole on Lac La Croix, he was stunned.

“All I saw was the knot,” he said.

The fish had taken all of his line. Scott, 65, quickly managed to retrieve 6 or 8 feet of his 20-pound-test monofilament line. What ensued was an hourlong battle with an immense lake trout. The fish was 45 inches long, 32 inches in girth and unofficially weighed 52 pounds, 3 ounces on a hand-held digital scale, Scott said.

If the fish tops 40 pounds when officially weighed, it could be an ice-fishing world record, according to the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward. But the Hall of Fame will not recognize fish that have been weighed on a hand-held scale, said Emmett Brown, executive director.

Scott said he was fishing alone on Lac La Croix on Feb. 8 when he caught the fish. Lac La Croix is a large lake that lies on the Minnesota-Ontario border several miles northeast of Crane Lake.

“It was a monster,” said Jim Janssen of Voyagaire Lodge and Houseboats in Crane Lake. “I was holding the scale when we weighed it. It was hard to hold.”

He first saw the fish in Scott’s shop shortly after Scott returned from fishing.

“I thought, ‘Holy God, that thing is grotesque,’ ” Janssen said.

Scott, who had been fishing on the Ontario side of the lake, plans to have it mounted.

Bill Congdon of Crane Lake has fished for lake trout in the same area where Scott caught his fish.

“That’s an unbelievable fish for there,” Congdon said. “Thirty-something would be a huge one. I’ve caught ’em 20. But 52-3?”

Earl Palmquist of International Falls holds the current National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame record for a lake trout caught through the ice and kept. That fish, caught on Clearwater West Lake near Atikokan, Ontario, in 1987, weighed 40 pounds and was 43 inches long.

Duluth’s Bruce Sederberg caught and released a 46-inch lake trout through the ice on Ontario’s White Otter Lake near Atikokan in January 2013. That fish was not weighed. It holds the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame record for a catch-and-release lake trout caught through the ice.

The Ontario record lake trout, caught in open water on Lake Superior in 1952, weighed 62 pounds, 2 ounces. It was 51½ inches long and had a girth of 32.8 inches.

Scott, a veteran lake trout angler who owns Scott’s Peaceful Valley Resort on Crane Lake, was fishing in 55 feet of water when he hooked the big laker. His bait was about a foot off the bottom, he said. It was about 1 p.m., and the temperature was about 7 above zero at International Falls. Scott had ridden by snowmobile to the spot where he was fishing.

The fish stayed down for a long time, he said.

“He was in deep-water mode for the first half-hour,” Scott said. “Once I got him into mid-water depth, he’d start to do more excursions, but I felt comfortable,” he said.

He fought the fish at that depth for another 15 minutes before he brought it into shallower water.

“I thought, ‘I have to have a 100 percent view of this fish,’ ” he said. “I saw the fish swim by. I thought, ‘That’s a pretty solid fish.’”

Scott had caught a couple of other lake trout of about 20 pounds in previous years.

“In the last few minutes, the trout was coming up. I saw that it had shoulders,” Scott said. “It passed (beneath the hole) just like ‘Jaws.’ All I saw was that eye. I said, ‘All bets are off.’ ”

Working alone, bare-handed, he drew the fish near the hole once, twice, three times, waiting for it to come by with its mouth open. When he saw the trout’s mouth open on the third pass, he plunged his arm into the water and used a gaff to hook the fish in the jaw.

“I remember every millisecond of this,” Scott said. “I just pulled, (and he) came of that hole like a cork out of a wine bottle.”

Still alone, Scott said he shouted and did a dance on the ice. Nearby anglers came over to take his photo.

Scott never thought of releasing the fish, he said.

“Nothing in my trout vocabulary had ‘release’ in it,” he said.

Scott said he plans to submit his catch for potential record status.

The Tale Of One Man & One Very Big Fish (Lake Trout)

Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
Updated: February 17, 2014 – 1:26 AM

One day, a tale of mythic proportions will begin: It was on the isolated Canadian side of Lac la Croix where I encountered Mr. Trout …

Battling and ultimately landing a monster fish is a physical experience that can morph, over time, to the mythological. “The Old Man and the Sea,’’ as its title implies, is about an old man and the sea, but equally about resolve and conquest, pride and honor. Consider also the malevolence of Ahab in pursuit of his whale. The point is a fish is a fish. But a fish in hand, particularly a big fish in hand, can be more than itself. And often is.

Whether Rob Scott was thinking in these terms when he straddled his 1100cc snowmobile a few days back and angled north from his home in Crane Lake, Minn., is unknown. He had his hot lunch in a thermos. Also on board were tip-ups, jigging rods and his favorite trout jigs, as well as a power auger and frozen shiners for bait. A retired Navy captain, he was prepared for whatever might transpire on this day, and he was comfortable racing up Crane Lake onto Sand Point Lake and toward the big and deep border lake, Lac la Croix.

Exactly how cold the morning was he was unsure. Already this winter he had caught 16 lake trout, many pulled through the ice in subzero temperatures. So he didn’t worry about the weather. Besides, he had grown up in these parts. This was before he left for college and graduate school and 32 years in the Navy. Now, since 2003, he was back.

“My sea anchor always was going to drop right here, in Crane Lake,’’ he would say. “I knew that.’’

When Scott steered his snowmobile onto Lac la Croix, the giant lake’s 34,000 acres — half of which lie in Ontario, the rest in Minnesota — unfolded before him like an endless sea of white.

Navigation was important here, because Minnesota’s side of Lac la Croix lies in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where snowmobiles and power augers are prohibited. But both are allowed on the Canadian side, so Scott stayed on the north side of the lake.

When he reached a spot below which he thought a trout might lurk, he killed the sled’s engine and bored two holes through the lake’s thick ice.

Few people fish Lac la Croix in winter. But sometimes Scott encounters an angler or two scattered thereabouts, most hunkered within portable shelters, warmed by gas heaters.

Not so Scott.

“I never use a shelter,’’ he said. “I like being outside, on the ice.’’

Allowed two lines, Scott arranged a tip-up over one hole. Through a second icy cylinder, he would jig.

Lac la Croix can be as much as 168 feet deep, and his hope was that somewhere in the lake’s water column his baits would encounter a trout — if only by happenstance.

If that occurred, a struggle would ensue, pitting a strong fish and its desire to stay deep against Scott with his light line delicately played.

“I use 20-pound monofilament on my tip-up,’’ he said. “And I jig with even lighter line: 6-pound-test.’’

Unlike many winter trout anglers, Scott doesn’t use ciscoes for bait. His preference is to deploy shiners, each frozen and individually wrapped for the snowmobile ride north.

“The key is to thaw the shiners before you use them, and to do that I carry a second thermos full of hot water,’’ he said. “After I unwrap a minnow, I pour hot water over it to soften it.’’

Through long cold days on the ice, Scott sustains himself as other anglers do, by reliving past fish he’s caught. And he constantly strategizes, moving his fishing location as necessary from here to there, and from here to there again — all the while imagining trout yet to be hooked.

He wasn’t imagining when the flag on his tip-up snapped upright.

“I was only 20 feet away, but by the time I reached it and picked it up, the only thing I saw was a knot [tying the line onto the rig’s spool]. The fish had run the line out that fast, taking all of it.’’

When Scott set the hook, nothing moved.

“I thought, ‘OK, Mr. Trout, I have all day. How much time do you have?’

“Well, after 15 minutes, it was apparent he had all day, also.’’

An hour would pass before Scott positioned the fish just beneath the ice. Yet he was uncertain, being alone, whether he could tip the trout’s nose into the hole and quickly gaff it.

Failing twice, on a third try he impaled the trout’s mouth with his gaff and lifted.

And lifted.

“The fish’s nose was chest-high on me, and its tail wasn’t out of the hole,’’ he said.

The trout would tip the scales at 52 pounds, 3 ounces; it was 45 inches long, with a 32-inch girth.

Had it been caught on the Minnesota side of Lac la Croix, just 100 feet from where Scott fished, it would have handily beaten the state record of 43-8, a fish that was caught in Lake Superior in 1955.

Instead, it’s simply a really big trout.

And soon part of the mythology of fishing.