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ONTARIO, Canada — When fisherman Rob Scott hauled a 52-pound lake trout through the ice on Lac la Croix in Ontario, Canada, he knew right away that the fish was special. He caught the trout on a tip-up, which is small, spooled fishing device that sits on the ice. Because there’s no reel on a tip-up, Scott pulled the monster fish in by hand.
Scott’s fish bested the previous world record for lake trout caught on a tip-up by nearly 24 pounds. It seemed that the only thing standing between Scott and the record books was the requisite paperwork. But authorities recently contacted Scott and let him know that he’d broken the law. And then they confiscated the fish.
So what went wrong?
Authorities said that Scott violated the catch limit on Lac la Croix, a remote lake that spans the Canadian border. And Scott readily admits that they’re right. The catch-and-keep limit on the Canadian side of the lake is one lake trout. On the Minnesota side of the lake, the limit is two. Scott is from Minnesota, but he was about 100 feet north of the border when he caught his record trout.
That wouldn’t have been a problem if Scott hadn’t already caught and kept a smaller, four-pound trout earlier in the day. After landing his lunker, he gave the four-pounder away to another angler. Then he hopped on his snowmobile and headed back to Minnesota.
Despite the infraction, Scott probably would’ve been able to keep his trout and his record if not for a couple coincidences. First of all, as reported by the Star Tribune, two Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources officers had encountered Scott on the ice after he’d caught his first fish and before he’d landed his record-setting trout. The officers did a routine inspection of his fishing license and then sped off on their snowmobiles.
Days later, when the Star Tribune in Minnesota ran a story on Scott’s record catch, one of the officers from Canada happened to read it. The officer recalled that he’d seen Scott that day on the ice and that he’d already had the smaller fish in possession.
Authorities from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources contacted conservation officers in Minnesota, who then paid a visit to Scott’s home. He admitted to catching and giving away the smaller fish. The officers then confiscated the record fish from the taxidermist who was storing it.
“I called the Ontario officers Tuesday morning and told them I owed them an apology,’’ Scott told the Star Tribune. “It wasn’t illegal for me to keep fishing after I caught the first trout. But when I caught the bigger fish, with the adrenaline and everything I had going, and the fact that it wasn’t going to survive if I released it, I figured if I gave the smaller fish away, that would be OK.’’
Despite his motives, Scott is involved in an ongoing investigation and his fish has been returned to Canada. The fact that it was caught illegally makes it ineligible for the record books. It seems that all this Minnesota angler is left with is a couple of epic photos and a fish story to beat them all.
Grant Olsen joined the KSL.com team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. You can contact him at email@example.com.