By Chris Marchand
Travis Tourond says he’s been taking a beating on the Internet since posting some pictures of a massive 34.5 inch walleye.
The local sponsored angler, known mostly for his catch and release conquest of some of the region’s biggest musky, says he needed every bit of the 10 inch wide hole in the ice through which he hauled the prized specimen on an undisclosed lake north of Dryden recently.
“That fish was well over 30 years old,” said Tourond. “For someone to keep that thing, I don’t know, it would be… not cool. I’ve been fishing a long time and put a lot of hours in and I’ve never seen a fish like that before.”
Taking a girth measurement, Tourond says the result was an unheard of 22 inches.
“We fished for about three hours and we hadn’t even marked a fish on the screen,” said Tourond. “We hadn’t even had a bite and my buddy was looking at me saying, ‘yeah, nice spot man’.”
Tourond says he marked the big fish for about 15 minutes on his electronics before he could get him to bite on anything.
“He was following a big sucker minnow around for a bit but he wouldn’t hit so I thought he might be a whitefish,” he said. “I put down a spoon — wouldn’t hit. Then I put down a Bento minnow (Lunkerhunt bento bait dace pattern). I jigged that and it came up and ‘bonk’ it set the hook and it was on. It didn’t fight hard until it got up near the hole. We pulled it out and just kind of laid it on the ice for a few seconds. My friend said, ‘Dude, that thing’s huge’.”
Where it gets problematic for Tourond, is that later on when punching the fish’s length and girth measurements into various walleye weight calculators online, the result turns up a figure in the same ballpark as the current Ontario record — a 22.25 lbs walleye caught in the Niagara River in 1943. Patrick Noon’s record holding Fort Erie walleye measured 36.5 inches in length and 21 inches in girth.
The Internet, being the haven for polite and carefully considered discourse that it is, Tourond says there are no shortage of folks who are quite confident in claiming he’s full of ‘BS’.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” he says. “But some of the things people will say — some say it isn’t even a real fish, that it’s a fake. I have video of me releasing it. What does bother me is that some people think that I kept it. I would never even think of keeping a fish that big.”
As for the prospect of having his name in the record books, Tourond says the survival of the fish was more of a consideration. At the time he released it back down the hole he believed the fish to be around 18 lbs.
“I’d rather see the fish live than have my name on a piece of paper saying I’ve got the record,” said Tourond. “If I’d killed it, it may have lost weight on the way home — so who knows? It’s pretty good for our area to know there’s record walleye kicking around. Everybody thinks you’ve got to go to the Bay of Quinte (Lake Ontario) for big walleyes. It’s not true, we’ve got them around here too, you just have to put your time in for them.”