Fisherman eats record-breaker
before he realized what he caught
Cook County News-Herald
Updated: Friday, July 11th, 2003 09:32:48 AM
David Hall, right, poses with
a fish he caught on Devil Track Lake recently. He didn’t
realize that it was a record-breaking Menominee
whitefish until he and his family returned home to Iowa
and began researching the fish on the Internet — while
it was baking in the oven.
Photo courtesy of David Hall
David Hall/Guest writer
It hit my line pretty hard, so I knew it was a big one. My heart
raced a little as I reeled it in. It gets exciting when you can
hear the fish pull your line out against the drag control. As we
brought it to the side of the boat, I could tell my light tackle
wouldn’t be able to lift it into the boat, so I handed the rod
to my 15-year-old son, Spencer, netted
the fish in the water, and lifted it into the boat.
The Menominee whitefish did bake up into a tasty meal,
It was nearly two feet long. But what kind of fish was it? We
have been fishing Devil Track and other area lakes for over 25
years and never seen anything like it. It was silver-colored
with large, loose scales and a funny mouth that looked like the
mouth of a carp. He hit my orange “deep-runner” Rapala.
There was a man and his son on the shore. Maybe they would know.
Both of them scratched their heads. No, it wasn’t a trout,
though it looked a little bit like one. “Asian Carp?” He
admitted it was a blind guess. He had a ruler and a scale—it
weighed in at 4 pounds even, with a length of 21 inches. A
pretty good catch for the day!
I was told I needed to report this to the ranger
or someone. This was a memorable, historic fish and needed to be
properly documented and maybe mounted. I kind of wanted to, but
this was July 4th and we had barely enough time to get back to
town for the fireworks.
Another fellow pulled up to land his boat. We showed him the
fish and he said he thought it was a whitefish. Hmmm,
We drove down to the fireworks in the harbor. It was a great
display, the kind of show Grand Marais likes to put on. We
stopped at the Dairy Queen for their Fourth of July special and
then went back to our rented cabin in Croftville. We had to head
back to Iowa the next day, and there wasn’t time to mess with
it, so I decided we’d just clean the fish, ice it, and take it
back to Mt. Vernon (Iowa) with us. I didn’t know much about
whitefish, but I was confident they were good eating, and we
wanted to take good care of the flesh. I did want a good
picture, so I posed in front of the boat while my son Spencer
snapped the photo before we got out the fish knife.
We had a nice trip back on Saturday. On Sunday, we researched
“the fish” while it was baking for Sunday dinner.
Spencer dug up our Minnesota Fishing Regulations guide and found
two kinds of whitefish listed. There’s the lake whitefish, and
the record catch for that was 12 pounds 5 ounces, caught in
Leech Lake. Then they listed the Menominee whitefish, with a
record catch of 2 pounds 8 ounces in Lake Superior, in Cook
I found a Web site: www.fishontario.com. It had pictures of all
three varieties of whitefish. We compared them carefully with
the photograph we had taken. This was definitely what they
called a round whitefish, also known as the Menominee whitefish.
The mouth was so distinctive. But that meant . . . .
I took some ribbing for this one.
I had broken the earlier Minnesota state record for a
Menominee whitefish by nearly double, and had failed to properly
record it. The state record was 2 pounds 8 ounces and ours was 4
I’ll tell you one thing, though. It is true that whitefish are
David Hall is the owner and president of Mapletree Publishing
Company, a book publishing company in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. His
family is originally from Cook County, and he attended Cook
County High School. He comes up every year for one or two weeks