Fishing Ice Fishing

Ontario Anglers Had to Drill a Second Hole in the Ice to Land This Giant Laker

Ontario angler Sam Boucha fought the giant laker for nearly an hour before hauling it onto the ice
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A woman holds up a massive 57-pound laker.
Boucha, after wrestling the laker through the ice. Courtesy of Sam Boucha

It was a long and cold fight, but worth the effort when lifelong angler Sam Boucha hauled an estimated 57-pound lake trout through a hole in the ice on March 3 from an unnamed lake near Red Lake, Ontario.

Boucha and her boyfriend, Brad Molloy, took advantage of a day off work to go ice fishing at a lake near Red Lake, located in west-central Ontario north of Kenora. Because their snowmobile was acting up, they decided to fish a different lake than they had planned.

Two ice fishermen with a giant lake trout.
Boucha and Molloy with the laker, which she described as a team effort. Courtesy of Sam Boucha

They caught a few fish using ice tackle positioned over holes in the hard water. Then Boucha noticed an ice rod bowed. Its reel was spooled with 50-pound test braided line and tied to a 3/8-ounce jig with a 5-inch sucker. When she picked up the rod it felt like a heavy weight was attached to the end of the line.

The fight lasted nearly an hour, with the stubborn lake trout staying deep and making it tough for Boucha to reel the fish toward the ice. When she finally muscled the fish close enough to see it, the anglers realized the massive laker wouldn’t fit through the hole.

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Boucha fought the fish, spit the hook. Boucha grabbed the laker with her bare hands in the lake’s frigid water until Molloy could drill a second hole.

“I was frozen,” says Boucha, who works for a hospital foundation in Red Lake. “It was bare-handed, arm down the 2.5-foot ice hole to my shoulder, holding on to that fish until the second hole was drilled. I could barely hold it.”

Once the second hole opened, Boucha was able to pull it through the widened opening. The fish died in the effort to haul it through the ice, so Boucha decided to mount it. She was delighted with her huge laker, calling it an unreal catch and crediting Molloy in a team effort. They headed to a nearby ice shack to warm up, where they weighed the fish on a hand scale—which bottomed out at 50 pounds.

Three anglers hold a giant laker.
Boucha (center) with the giant laker. Courtesy of Sam Boucha

Using a length-girth formula to determine its weight, the two calculated the 57.75-inch laker with a 31-inch girth weighed more than 57 pounds. It’s the biggest fish Boucha has ever caught.

Boucha plans to have the trout mounted by a taxidermist. She also provided the pectoral fin and an ocular bone to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to age the fish.

Her catch has been heralded throughout the Red Lake area, and widely on social media.

“[One comment] was from a family friend here in Red Lake and he was like, ‘You’re a fishing goddess.’ I like that,” Boucha said.