March 16, 2012

A real big fish story

A real big fish story
Area man catches state record trout
By Jerry W. Kram
A search for walleyes at the Garrison Dam Tailrace back on March 6 turned up something different for Royce “Pete” Johnston of Van Hook. A very big something, as it turned out.
“We were pitching jigs with a plastic bait on them,” Johnston said. “We caught a few walleyes and then I hooked into this fish that didn’t want to come to the boat very bad. It was a powerful fish. I said, ‘I don’t know what this is, but it’s not a walleye. It’s huge, whatever it is.’”
Johnston and his fishing partner, Rick Folden of Parshall, worked to land the fish for about 20 minutes. Johnston was using light six-pound test line, so he couldn’t land the fish by brute force. It fought so hard they speculated that Johnston might have snagged a paddlefish, a fish that could weigh up to 100 pounds. But when they finally got it close enough to get it into a fishing net, they were in for another surprise.
“We both looked at it and he said, ‘What is that?’” Johnston said. “I said, ‘I think it’s a lake trout.’ But I didn’t think they had any of those in here. So we put it in the live well and finished fishing for walleyes.”
Johnston said he didn’t know much about lake trout in Lake Sakakawea, but he thought the fish might be a new state record. He and Folden stopped at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Riverdale and were told that his prize was likely a new record. They stopped at the bait shop in Pick City and the monster trout weighed in at 16 pounds, six ounces. The old record of 14 pounds, four ounces, for a fish that was also caught at the tailrace, was set in 1982.

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