MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man told natural resources officers the truth, so his 52-pound catch was confiscated.
When Rob Scott hand-lined a 4-pound trout through the ice on Lac la Croix last month, and kept the fish, he couldn’t know his world was about to change.
Scott, 65, of Crane Lake, Minn., is a knowledgeable fisherman. Catching one trout was a fortunate thing, he knew. Still, he’d bait another tip-up. His nephew and another angler were due on the lake later in the day.
Besides, Scott figured, he might catch another laker, which he could release, knowing the Ontario limit is one.
Then officers from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources arrived on snowmobiles.
Thet checked his license and took note of his trout lying on the ice. That he was still fishing wasn’t discussed, because the officers knew it to be legal.
It wouldn’t be until after the sun had passed its midpoint, that Scott’s tip-up flag would jerk again. The fish he would fight for an hour would tip a handheld scale at 52 pounds, 3 ounces, easily besting the world record lake trout taken on a tip-up.
Laying the big trout on the ice, Scott’s “adrenaline was pumping.” With the fish nearly dead, releasing it wasn’t an option.
Now Scott had two trout.
“My nephew was fishing not too far away,” he would say, “and after I caught the big fish I gave the smaller trout to him.”
Had Scott been fishing on the Minnesota side of Lac la Croix, he could have kept both fish, because the Minnesota lake trout limit is two.
But the Ontario limit is one, and that province, unlike Minnesota, offers no allowance for “party fishing.” Ontario also prohibits releasing a fish that is dead or likely to die.
Scott figured little harm would be done by gifting the smaller trout to his nephew.
Scott contacted no media about his fish. Instead, word of mouth got back to me, and I had Scott on the line, happily telling his fish tale – sans the part about the smaller trout – and e-mailing a photo of his catch.
Unfortunately for Scott, my column was read by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources officers who checked him on the ice. The bigger fish put him over his limit.
Which is why on Monday, Minnesota officers confiscated Scott’s fish from a taxidermist, and why the trout will be turned over to Ontario. Also, Scott was interviewed by two DNR officers, working in cooperation with their Ontario counterparts.
Scott seeks no shelter.
“It wasn’t illegal for me to keep fishing after I caught the first trout,” he said. “But when I caught the bigger fish, with the adrenaline and everything I had going, and the fact that it wasn’t going to survive if I released it, I figured if I gave the smaller fish away, that would be OK.”
Added Scott: “I have friends who are lawyers who say I shouldn’t have said anything to the officers, and all that. That’s not me.”