If you were to ask Bruce Sederberg if he had any regrets over releasing what is the largest lake trout ever caught on ice with rod and reel, he would tell you emphatically that he didn’t regret a thing. It’s just how he always did things.
The 57-year-old lifelong Minnesota angler has been dipping lines into the water since he was six and sported an altruistic approach to fishing. Sederberg prided himself on never biting off more than he chew. On every fishing trip Sederberg would keep a few specimens for a fish fry with family and friends, the rest go straight back in the water.
He brought that attitude with him onto the ice of Ontario’s White Otter Lake on January 18, where he had been ice fishing for years.
“I wasn’t aiming big,” he told Outdoor Hub with a chuckle, but the lake had turned up surprises for him in the past. Sederberg was no stranger to big fish, and that’s why he brought his equipment to match. A Shimano Symetre reel, 20-pound PowerPro line, and 25-inch Jig-a-Whopper rod rounded out Sederberg’s arsenal as he set up and drilled two holes into the ice.
Not too long later, a massive lake trout took his lure and Sederberg compared the ensuing battle to reeling in a rock. A large one.
“It was a pretty long fight, took about 45 minutes or more,” Sederberg said. He fought to bring in the trout as his nephew looked on. When the trout was brought flapping onto the ice, both men realized they didn’t have anything to measure it. The anglers then set the fish onto some soft snow and made marks near its tail and nose. After a few hurried pictures, Sederberg decided it was time for the fish to go home.
“Even knowing it might be a world record, I knew I had to release this fish.” So he and his nephew slowly lowered the trout back into the hole where it jumped back into the lake’s depths. The two borrowed a tape measure from a friend and measured the marks on the snow, where it came to an even 46 inches. It is estimated to have been anywhere from 40 to 44 pounds, which would place it over the record ice fishing kept lake trout. That one was caught by Earl Palmquist in 1987 and had weighed 40 pounds at 44 inches long.
Sederberg submitted a record application to the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Wisconsin and a few weeks later he got a response. His fish is now officially the largest ice fishing catch-and-release lake trout ever caught. It beat out previous record-holder Brent Danylko’s 44-incher from 2010. Sederberg takes the acclaim modestly, saying that he “wasn’t really record-oriented.”