Keith Pazour got a late start on Saturday morning as he headed to Lake Oahe from his hometown of Pierre, South Dakota. He didn’t get out on the reservoir until around 8 a.m., but his timing turned out to be perfect. Just 45 minutes later, he hauled in a new state-record walleye weighing more than 17 pounds.
“We’d been fishing up there for the last month and a half, and we’d been catching some real big walleye up there,” Pazour tells Outdoor Life. “I couldn’t find anyone to come with me that day, so I went by myself. I barely got my rods in the water set up and it hit. It was a big fish, I couldn’t tell right away if it was a Northern, a catfish, or a walleye. It took about 10 minutes to get her in, and once I got her in the net and sitting on the floor, I was like ‘Ho-ly crap.'”
After putting the fish on his hand scale, Pazour saw it was way heavier than any of the other big walleyes he’d caught in the past.
“She was banging high 17s, around 18 pounds. I knew I had to get in and get her weighed.”
Pazour motored back to shore and called a South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks officer to determine where the nearest certified scale was. He made the trek to South Whitlock, roughly 45 minutes from the boat launch, and got the fish weighed at a bait shop. The other patrons and employees there were blown away by the monster.
“I heard a lot of ‘Holy shit,'” Pazour says, laughing.
Pazour’s taxidermist, Tyler Erickson at Top Notch Taxidermy, called him about two hours after he caught the fish. Erickson had seen the fish on Pazour’s Facebook post and wanted to make sure he’d get the chance to mount the walleye. Pazour already has a few 9.5- and 10.5-pound walleyes mounted at home that he and his kids have caught over the years.
“Erin Pazour said no more fish mounts unless it’s a record,” Pazour wrote of his wife in the post. “Jokes on her!!”
The fish’s certified weight came out to 17 pounds 13.92 ounces, and it measured 33 inches long, with a 22-inch girth. Those dimensions were enough to land Pazour the official South Dakota state record, which was certified on Monday.
That same record had been broken just three weeks earlier by North Dakota resident Aaron Schuck, who also caught his record-breaking walleye from Lake Oahe. Schuck’s fish was roughly the same length but it weighed 16.5 pounds, or more than a full pound less than Pazour’s. Prior to Schuck’s catch, the South Dakota walleye record had stood for 21 years.