The Wrong Fish

It was a sunny but cold day during the second day of the Southern Alberta Walleye Tournament. We put together a middle-of-the-pack limit of walleye on day one, but the second day of any walleye tournament is always much tougher than the opener. The reason being, the lake or reservoir has been picked apart for three to four days of pre-fishing and the opening day of the tournament by some of the best anglers in the western provinces and northern US states. This makes the closing day a tough day to land big fish.

However, we were confident with three hours remaining in the tournament that we could put one more keeper in the live well. We already weighed in three fish and we needed one more to complete our four-fish limit.

We were vertical jigging a small sunken hump in 17 feet of water. We were setting the hook on a number of smaller walleye, when all of a sudden I set the hook and felt the weight of a heavy fish. I took my time reeling up the big boy but he was determined to plant his belly on the bottom of the lake, like big walleye do. I managed to get his head turned and get him pointed to the surface. The headshakes were fierce and I feared losing the fish. I began to gain line, but he wasn’t about to give up. He tried one last time to get back to the bottom, but he was played out.

I could feel that he was a big fish and as he came to the boat the fight had put me in a position where I couldn’t see the fish but I had all the confidence in my fishing partner’s netting ability and I blindly followed his direction. The excitement of a big fish coming into the net was seen through my partner’s body language. However, I feared the worst when I saw his body shrug with disappointment. I still couldn’t see the fish but I could feel him on the end of my line.

“What’s wrong?” I yelled.

His reply, “Burbot.”

What came into the net was a 10-pound burbot. My biggest ever, but not what I was looking for during the last three hours of a walleye tournament.

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