Brent Getzler admits he was hoping for a big walleye Monday when he felt the weight of a heavy fish at the end of the line north of Pine Island on Lake of the Woods.
“It had a little fight,” Getzler, 33, of Roosevelt, Minn., said. “I was hoping it wasn’t an eelpout — I can say that — but after a little bit, I figured it had to be an eelpout.”
Getzler figured correctly, but little did he know the big-bellied specimen would break the state record for the heaviest eelpout ever weighed in Minnesota.
It’s all but official.
Getzler’s big ‘pout weighed 19.67 pounds — 19 pounds, 11 ounces — on a certified scale at Lake of the Woods Foods in Baudette, Minn. Once all the paperwork is complete, the big burbot will break the old record of 19 pounds, 8 ounces, set in February 2012 on Lake of the Woods by Aaron Guthrie of Bemidji.
Also known as burbot — among other names — eelpout are a freshwater codfish.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Getzler said earlier this week. “My phone has been blowing up pretty much constantly now.”
Getzler says he and and a couple of buddies were fishing in a Sportsman’s Lodge rental house in about 26 feet of water north of Pine Island on Monday when the fish hit a “dead stick” line he was fishing.
His first reaction to seeing the ‘pout is familiar to many anglers.
“I thought man, he’s ugly — and he’s big,” Getzler said. “It’s pretty exciting.
“I’ve never seen a fish with a belly like this. It’s a pretty big belly.”
Getzler says he wasn’t thinking about a state record fish when they headed into Baudette to weigh the burbot.
“I actually thought it was like maybe 15 pounds, to tell you the truth,” he said.
As pure coincidence would have it, Dennis Topp, assistant area fisheries supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources in Baudette, stopped by Lake of the Woods Foods at the same time Getzler was having the fish weighed on a certified scale.
“He said, ‘I’m pretty sure I can help you with that,’ ” Getzler said. “We didn’t know where to go next, and he just happened to find us.”
Topp said he confirmed the weight and measured the girth at 23⅞ inches and the length at 33 inches. The DNR assistant fisheries manager also had stopped by the grocery store in February 2012 when the last record burbot was weighed on the scale.
What are the odds?
“I’m a member of the ambulance squad, and we were having a potluck, so I was going to get some stuff, and three guys were there behind the meat counter that normally didn’t belong back there,” Topp said. “It was like deja vu.
“I actually took the girth, and we took the length, so it’s as exact as it can be. It was a really nice fish. It was gorgeous.”
That’s not a word most people would use to describe an eelpout, but as the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Topp called DNR fisheries technician Brett Nelson to print out the necessary paperwork at the nearby fisheries office. Nelson also saw the burbot to fulfill the requirement for state record fish that two DNR employees witness the fish and confirm the species.
“All I can say is by all appearances, it was a little bit bigger than the present state record,” Topp said.
Mike Kurre, who handles state record information for the DNR in St. Paul, said he had been in touch with Topp and expected everything to be in order as soon as he received the paperwork. Getzler said Tuesday afternoon he had everything filled out and just had to get the paperwork notarized before sending it to Kurre.
“Usually it takes people awhile to get that together,” Kurre said. “It sounds like everything’s in order and has a good chance of breaking the record, and it’s kind of neat that Lake of the Woods is breaking its own record.”
Topp said the burbot probably was about 15 years old.
As Minnesota’s soon-to-be new ‘pout king, Getzler says he hopes to put the royal cod on his wall.
“That’s the plan,” he said.
Minnesota ‘pout records since 1980:
When it comes to big eelpout in Minnesota, Lake of the Woods rules the roost. Including the pending state record Brent Getzler of Roosevelt, Minn., caught Monday, five of the seven Minnesota state record eelpout since 1980 have come from Lake of the Woods. Here’s a closer look at Minnesota’s state record ‘pout since 1980:
- Feb. 3, 1980: 14 pounds, 1 ounce, Deer Lake in Itasca County, Leonard Lundeen of Duluth.
- March 7, 1982: 14 pounds, 1 ounce, Lake of the Woods, Norman Flagstad of Roseau, Minn.
- Jan. 22, 1983: 17 pounds, 8 ounces, Trout Lake in St. Louis County, Allen Lindgren of Virginia, Minn.
- March 30, 1998: 18.3 pounds, Lake of the Woods, Robert Wilmes of Nisswa, Minn.
- Feb. 17, 2001: 19 pounds, 3 ounces, Lake of the Woods, John Galles of St Paul.
- Feb. 24, 2012: 19 pounds, 8 ounces, Lake of the Woods, Aaron Guthrie of Bemidji.
- Dec. 19, 2016 (unofficial): 19 pounds, 11 ounces, Lake of the Woods, Brent Getzler of Roosevelt, Minn.
— Source: Minnesota DNR