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Colorado Man Catches Pending World-Record Lake Trout While Fishing with His Son

Scott Enloe and his son released the record laker instead of killing it
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world record lake trout enloe CO

Scott Enloe holds up one of the biggest lake trout ever caught. He chose to release the giant laker instead of going through the world-record certification process, which would have required him to kill the fish. <p>Photograph courtesy of Scott Enloe</p>

Colorado outdoorsman Scott Enloe caught and released what should go down as the new world-record lake trout while fishing with his son, Hunter, on May 5. The fish weighed 73.29 pounds, according to the handheld scale they had in their boat. That’s at least 20 pounds heavier than the current state-record laker, and more than a pound heavier than the IGFA all-tackle world record for the species.

Photos of the gargantuan lake trout will make your head spin. The roughly 47-inch fish had an astonishing 37-inch girth, which means it was bigger around than the angler himself.

“Some of the other photos I have—I hate to say it, but they almost look fake,” Enloe tells Outdoor Life. “I mean, my God, it looks so dumb. A 37-inch girth, and I’m a 35-inch waist. It was just incredible. That fish doesn’t even look 47 inches long because it’s just so fat.”

The fat female appears to be full of eggs, but Enloe clarifies that it wasn’t. Lakers spawn in the fall, and Enloe says the fish’s enormous belly was actually full of kokanee salmon, which are the main food source for lake trout in this particular waterbody. (At first, Enloe tried to hide the location where he and Hunter caught the fish. By Monday, however, word had spread that they were on Blue Mesa Reservoir, which is the largest man-made lake in Colorado.)

A former professional bass angler and member of the USA Men’s Fly Fishing Team, Enloe revealed to Free Range American that he was using a heavy rod and a baitcaster spooled with 10-pound fluorocarbon line. The fish ate a six-inch tube jig. After a nearly 15-minute-long battle, the two anglers had to haul the trout into the boat by hand because their large landing net was much too small.

Unable to fit the massive laker in their livewell (which was also too small), the father and son photographed, measured, and weighed the fish as quickly as possible. They were determined to release it alive. Hunter’s scale topped out at 50 pounds, while Scott’s registered 73.29 pounds. Altogether, that process took around two minutes, and a series of Instagram videos show them releasing the fish back into the lake.

world record lake trout 2 enloe CO
The fish was 47 inches long with a 37-inch girth. courtesy of Scott Enloe

“I never even considered killing the fish,” Enloe says. “This is [one of] the largest lake trout that’s ever been caught. Period. And I could have made it easy to put in the [IGFA] book, but I would have had to kill it. And I was not going to kill that fish.”

Because the lake trout was released, Enloe says there are some additional hoops to jump through before it can be officially declared an all-tackle world record by the IGFA. He thinks that because he and Hunter were meticulous in their measurements and filmed the entire process, his fish could very well replace the current all-tackle world record laker—a 72-pound fish caught in Canada’s Northwest Territories in 1995.

“I would love to have the world record, and it is the world record,” Enloe says confidently. “But if we don’t get it … I know what I caught, my son knows what I caught, and I’m okay with that.”

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At the very least, Enloe’s laker will go down in the IGFA book as the all-tackle length world record. (The current length record for the species is around 42.5 inches.) Whether or not the fish will be accepted as a Colorado state record also remains to be seen, but Enloe’s fish was at least 20 pounds heavier than the current weight record. (Using a formula based on the trout’s length and girth, Enloe’s fish would have weighed around 80 pounds.)

In addition to being one of the largest lake trout ever caught, Enloe’s fish was also very old. After speaking with Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials and some of the local guides in the area, many believe the fish was one of the original lakers stocked by CPW in 1966, when Blue Mesa Reservoir was built. That would make it around 57 years old. (The oldest lake trout on record was around 62 years old, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.)

Read Next: The Biggest Trout of All Time

“That’s almost a 60-year-old fish, and I wasn’t gonna kill that fish out of respect,” Enloe says. “I fooled it once, and it might have been the only time it’s ever been fooled. But I’m not gonna take it’s life for that.”