Anderson: Ontario reclaims record trout from Minnesota man

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2014 - 12:51 AM

A Minnesota man told natural resources officers the truth, so his 52-pound catch was confiscated.


Rob Scott held the record lake trout he caught ice fishing just inside the Ontario border. But since it was his second trout that day — and the province limit is one — he had to return it.

Photo: Submitted photo,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When Rob Scott hand-lined a 4-pound lake trout through the ice on Lac la Croix the morning of Feb. 8, and kept the fish, he couldn’t know his world was about to change.

Scott, 65, of Crane Lake, Minn., on the Ontario border, is a retired Navy captain and knowledgeable fisherman. Catching one trout was a fortunate thing, he knew, and he was happy enough. Still, he’d hang around a while, and bait another tip-up with a shiner. His nephew and another angler were due on the lake later in the day, and perhaps they’d fish together.

Besides, Scott figured, he might get lucky and catch another laker, which he could release, knowing the Ontario limit is one. Or, as likely where he was fishing, he might catch a whitefish or even a northern.

Settling in, he was enjoying the day when two snowmobiles appeared. These would be officers from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, a common sight on the Canadian side of Lac la Croix.

The officers made small talk, checked his license and took note of his trout lying on the ice. That he was still fishing wasn’t discussed, because the officers knew it to be legal, as Scott did. About 20 minutes later the men and their sleds disappeared down the lake, patrolling.

It wouldn’t be until after the sun had passed its midpoint that Scott’s tip-up flag would jerk upright again, and a struggle between him and a beast of gigantic proportions would ensue.

The fish Scott would fight for an hour before pulling it into the daylight would tip a handheld scale at 52 pounds, 3 ounces, easily besting the world record lake trout taken on a tip-up. That fish weighed 29 pounds, 6 ounces and was caught in Vermont in 1996.

Laying the big trout on the ice, Scott would recall later that his “adrenaline was pumping.” Near death after having been excised from a depth of about 55 feet, the fish’s decades-long life was over. Releasing it — even if Scott wanted to — wasn’t an option. If the fish made it back through the lake’s 3 feet of ice, it would succumb moments later.

Now Scott had two trout.

“My nephew was fishing not too far away,” he would say, “and after I caught the big fish I gave the smaller trout to him.”

Had Scott been fishing on the Minnesota side of Lac la Croix, 100 feet or so from where he caught the big trout, he could have kept both fish, because the Minnesota lake trout limit is two.

But the Ontario limit is one, and that province, unlike Minnesota, offers no allowance for “party fishing,” meaning Scott couldn’t legally give the fish away.

Additionally, Ontario prohibits releasing a fish that is dead or likely to die, assigning the offense of wanton waste to that practice.

In Minnesota, anglers are allowed considerably more leeway. In a single watercraft, limits can be shared, meaning if one angler has a hot hand and catches a limit, he can keep fishing to help fill his buddy’s legal quota. The same is true for shore anglers, and even anglers in two boats, provided the “party” is within sight and can communicate by voice.

But Scott was in Ontario, and in his heart of hearts he figured little harm would be done by gifting the smaller trout to his nephew.

Scott contacted no media about his fish. Instead, one guy told another who told another who called me, and a couple of phone calls later I had Scott on the line, happily telling his fish tale — sans the part about the smaller trout — and sending a photo of his catch via the Internet.

Unfortunately for Scott, my column celebrating him and his fish was published Feb. 16, and among its readers were the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources officers who checked him on the ice. They knew he had the smaller trout, and the bigger fish would have put him over his limit.

Which is why on Monday, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officer confiscated Scott’s fish from a Duluth taxidermist, and why the trout will be turned over to Ontario officials soon. Also on Monday, Scott was interviewed at his home by two DNR officers, working in cooperation with their Ontario counterparts.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question