An out-of-state angler who was visiting South Dakota’s famed Lake Oahe was trolling a deep-diving crankbait when a heavy fish struck his plug on Friday. Pretty soon, Aaron Schuck of Bismarck was reeling in what will likely be the next South Dakota state-record walleye.
“It took a while to get in,” Schuck told Keoland News. “I had like 187 feet [of] line out there. So, it took quite a while and then when I got close to the boat, it was pretty much straight down.”
Until this trip, Schuck has caught walleyes weighing up to 10 pounds. He is a dedicated angler with plenty experience on Oahe, which is actually a long, winding reservoir on the Missouri River in central South Dakota. But Schuck’s heavyweight catch, which weighed in at 16.5 pounds and measured 33 inches long, came as a major surprise to him.
“I was shocked,” Schuck said. “It was a long-time dream of mine. All I wanted to catch was a 14-pounder and now I have my name in the record books.”
Schuck had the 33-inch long fish officially weighed on certified scales at Oahe Sunset Lodge and Steakhouse, near the town of Pollock. Sunset Lodge owner Lisa Moser confirmed that Schuck actually caught the fish near the town of Akaska. Pollock and Akaska are both on the eastern shore of Upper Lake Oahe.
Officials from the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department recorded information about the fish for state record certification, which is in the works. Schuck’s walleye should easily top the current state record of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, caught by 73-year-old Georgine Chytka in 2002 in the Missouri River tailrace at Fort Randall.
SDGFP stocks walleye at 15 different locations on Lower Lake Oahe and just two location on Upper Lake Oahe. In 2022, they released 2,000,000 walleye fry across all 17 stocking locations. In prior years, they’ve also released small fingerlings or a combination of both fingerlings and fry. Walleye greater than 20 inches long have been on the decline in Upper Lake Oahe over the last few years, SDGFP reports.
Schuck usually releases big walleyes, but he plans to get his record fish mounted, he says.
“Instead of killing the fish, I just take a picture let them go,” he said. “But I always wanted a big, big one.”