Thunder Bay·Audio

Giant lake trout caught, then released, in northwestern Ontario lake

A lake trout of near-record proportions got very lucky on February 19, when the angler that caught the giant, decided to let it go.

Clearwater West lake, northwest of Atikokan, Ont., is known to be home of giant trout

Lee Olson caught and released this 44.25 inch lake trout on Clearwater West lake, Feb. 19, 2017. (photo credit: Lee Olson)

A lake trout of near record proportions got a very lucky break on February 19, 2017.

That's because the angler that caught the giant trout, Lee Olson, from Minnesota, decided to let it go.

Olson was ice-fishing with with a group on Clearwater West lake, north of Atikokan, Ont.,  when he hooked up with the lake trout.

Olson's friend, Lance Sage, from Warroad, Minnesota, said the group wanted to have lunch but noticed Olson wasn't moving from his spot.

A member of the group decided to run over and discovered Olson was fighting a fish.

"Apparently, at that point, he'd already had the fish on for about 20 minutes," said Sage,who recounted the story to CBC News.

"So they hollered to me 'you have to come over with the BogaGrip'," he said.

'A heck of a battle'

Sage says the BogaGrip is a tool that securely grabs fish by the lower lip and makes it easier for them to land.

Another 25 minutes of fighting passed before Olson could get the trout near the hole in the ice.

"He had a heck of a battle on his hands," said Sage. Then, the fish was in the hole and Sage went for the grab.

"It really did not want to fit very well into the hole," said Sage of the trout. "So I had to reach my hand down in there to get the grip underneath the water.

"You have just one shot," Sage continued. "Because if you screw up and touch the line ..."

'Holy cow, that's amazing'

Sage didn't miss, and the fish came through. The lake trout measured 44 and a quarter inches in length. No girth measurement was taken.

 "We were all standing around going holy cow that's amazing," said Sage.

After a couple of quick photos, Olson let his fish-of-a-lifetime go back to the depths of Clearwater West.

The fish came up just short of a live-release record for lake trout.

The present catch and release ice-fishing record for lake trout, as recorded by the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, was caught by Bruce Sederberg on Jan. 16, 2013. That fish measured 46 inches in length and was also caught on Clearwater West.

Sage said Olson's trout was caught with spinning gear, 14 pound test monofilament line and it hit a white tube jig.

"I've seen some lake trout pushing 30 pounds, but nothing like tha one," said Sage. "It was pushing 40 pounds....pretty incredible."