Wisconsin angler Kevin Wolff has been making an annual pilgrimage to Lac La Matre lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories for the past decade, and during his most recent trip in June he hooked the catch of a lifetime.
Wolff spent six days in the Northwest Territories’ remote wildness chasing after northern pike. He had already caught several on June 23 when he spotted a large, silver fish just under the surface. It was the largest silver pike he had ever seen.
“I’ve probably caught three silvers in my entire life,” he told OutdoorHub. “They’re not everywhere.”
Wolff was on his last day of the trip and by that time he had gotten a feel for what the pike preferred. Using yellow, green, and black fly lures, he and guide Tyler Scoyne were in the hunt for big fish. The silver pike, however, was different. Unlike its more common northern pike cousins, it fought Wolff every step of the way.
“I had to chase it around for a half-hour before it bit anything and another half-hour before I could bring it onto the boat,” Wolff recalled. “I was using a 10-pound line so I couldn’t be too forceful with him.”
When it was finally brought on board, the gigantic silver weighed in at 31 pounds and eight ounces, outstripping the previous record of 20 pounds and eight ounces caught by an angler in 2002, which was kept. Wolff’s catch measured an inch short of the catch-and-release record length of 48 inches, but the weight of that fish was unknown. The circumstances left Wolff’s pike in a precarious situation.
His decision however, was never in question.
While smoking a cigar to keep the giant-sized flies away, Wolff directed one of his companions to snap a picture. Then, Wolff says, he did what he always does.
“I put the fish back in the water as soon as I can and as healthy as I can,” he stated to OutdoorHub. “Even though when I set the pike back it didn’t want to go anywhere.”
It was a personal policy that was met with approval by his fishing lodge, Lac La Matre Adventures, and his fellow anglers, but it also meant that Wolff had potentially released a world record.
Silver pike and northern pike are the same species, although they are not marked in the same ways. In fact, silver pike exist as a mutation of their northern cousins and are quite uncommon. Because of their relative rarity and genetic similarity to northern pike, neither the International Game Fish Association nor local wildlife agencies keep records for silver pike. That honor goes to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame (NFFHF). It is not currently known if Wolff’s catch will supplant the 48-inch-long silver pike record logged with the NFFHF, but Wolff is content with his choice. He firmly believes that catch-and-release is vital to preserving the future of angling, as well as cultivating the largest of fish.
“There were so many [pike] that we didn’t bother with the small ones,” Wolff said. “It’s funny how you can be snobby like that, but its also a privilege.”
The angler says he certainly will be returning to the lake, although perhaps he will be making some adjustments to his annual tradition.
“Opening week is like a holy week,” Wolff said. “You can feel it. You go there a certain time, you always want to go there…I’ve heard yesterday that because of the press that my story is getting, more guys want to go up there, to Lac La Matre, and it might be fairly crowded next time.”
Wolff added that he is considering contacting the NFFHF about the possible record catch.
Image courtesy Kevin Wolff