Doug Wegner, 19, of Oconomowoc, WI, recently landed the new catch-and-release state record northern pike on the Bay of Green Bay.
“When I first felt the fish I thought he was a really big pike or musky because it was so heavy and powerful,” he said.
Wegner has a construction job by day but when he’s not hard at it, you can expect him to be fishing either hard or soft water. An avid tip-up ice angler, Wegner has over 30 Beaver Dam tip-ups and uses the brand because they are easy to pick up off the ice and the quality components hold up to harsh Wisconsin conditions and big fish.
Wegner said he needs those 30 Beaver Dams because each is rigged for specific techniques and fish- much like how open water anglers have several fishing rods for a variety of applications.
“I was fishing on the Bay of Green Bay,” he said. “It’s a great fishery all around but we were targeting pike with tip-ups and were jigging for brown trout while watching for flags.”
As he jigged for the brown, just a daybreak, Wegner looked at one of his tip-up sets about 40-yards away and felt a spark of adrenaline as his bright red flag popped up. The spool was spinning furiously so he thought he had a brown trout.
“I tried to slow it down but couldn’t,” he said. “Before I knew it, three-quarters of my line was gone off my spool. It just kept going. The fight itself took 15-minutes and when I finally got him to the hole, it took me 10-different times to get her head pointed up towards the hole so I could get it though.”
Wegner took some quick pictures and measured the length- which ended up being 48-inches. According to the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, that makes it a solid five inches longer than the previous catch and release record.
“It never crossed my mind to keep her,” he said. “I knew I was putting her back right away. There is just no reason to kill such huge fish.”
Image courtesy Hard & Soft Fishing