An Orillia, Ont. angler says he has caught what could be an Ontario record burbot.
On Jan. 25, Sebastien Roy says he was ice fishing on Lake Simcoe with a buddy, looking for some whitefish.
Roy, 32, said the spot they had planned on fishing was open water, so they had to make an adjustment.
"It's kind of luck as we ended up fishing a spot we usually wouldn't fish," he said.
Roy said his first fish on the ice was a burbot — a form of freshwater cod. "It was a really small one, " he said. "But it was my first burbot ever." Roy continued to jig a small Vibrato spoon just off the bottom. Twenty minutes after he had caught his first fish, another one hit.
This fish was much heavier, and pulled Roy's jigging rod over in a tight arc. When it got near the ice hole, Roy said he knew he had something special.
"It's really clear, Lake Simcoe," Roy said. "And the minute I looked down the hole I knew it was a record. It was one of the biggest fish I've ever seen swimming around."
Roy said he called his partner, Steve, over and and they pulled the burbot from the hole together.
"Oh my God bro, that's a giant," said his partner.
They measured the fish as nearly .99 metres (39 inches) long, with a 48 cm (19 inch) girth. Roy borrowed a scale from some other anglers on the ice and the scale read 18.3 pounds.
A check of the Ontario burbot records via smartphone revealed the fish he had landed was a potential Ontario record.
Roy, who prefers to release his fish, also learned he had to keep the fish to qualify for a provincial record.
Back on land, the anglers looked for a place to weigh the fish. Two scales were tried, but Roy finally weighed the fish on a certified scale at Zehrs market, in Orillia.
"The guy at Zehrs was amazing," said Roy. "He let us weigh. In kilo's it weighed 8.145, so times 2.2 gives you pounds, so it was 17.9 on a certified scale. And we got all this on video."
Roy said he initially had to store the fish in a toboggan full of snow, as it was too big for the freezer.
"My girlfriend wouldn't like it if I left it in the freezer," said Roy. "It's a big fish."
He said he has filled out the proper forms and plans to enter his giant fish for record book consideration.
Roy said he had read about the giant burbot caught by 18-year-old Landan Brochu, of Thunder Bay, on March 5, 2016.
Brochu's fish weighed 16.8 pounds and measured .94 metres (37 inches) long and was 55.9 cm (22 inches) around. It is also the pending Ontario record.
Alesha Howran, of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH)/Ontario Record Fish Registry said Brochu's fish will be announced as the new record in March 2017, barring any other burbot from 2016 being entered.
However, she said if Roy's burbot meets all the proper requirements, it may be announced as a new Ontario burbot record in March 2018.
The present Ontario record burbot weighed 15.8 pounds and was caught by Ernie Arpin, on March 14, 2003. That fish measured .93 metres (36.5 inches) long by 53 cm (21 inches) around.
If Roy's trophy burbot makes it through the OFAH/Ontario Record Fish Registry requirements, it will be the first time in recent memory a fish from southern Ontario will have that title.
Both Arpin and Brochu's fish were caught in the same northwestern Ontario reservoir, located just north of the town of Nipigon.
The burbot is the only gadiform freshwater fish and is closely related to the marine common ling and the cusk fish.
Once considered a nuisance by many anglers, burbot have become something of a phenomenon in recent years.
Although Ontario has a growing reputation as a home to giant burbot, the king of them all came from another Canadian province.
The International Game Fish Association records the world-record burbot as being caught in Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan.
That fish was caught by Sean Konrad on March 27, 2010. Konrad's world record burbot weighed a whopping 25 lb 2 oz (11.4 kg).
Fish records are typically measures in pounds. One pound equals .45 kilograms.