Minnesota angler pleads guilty in trout case

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, April 2, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — A contrite Minnesota angler pleaded guilty to breaking Canadian fishing laws and paid a fine for exceeding his daily catch limit and keeping what otherwise might have been world record lake trout.

Rob Scott, of Crane Lake, said Tuesday that he knew he was breaking the law by keeping the big fish, which he caught on the Ontario side of Lac la Croix on Feb. 8. It weighed an unofficial 52 pounds, 3 ounces, which far exceeds the world record of just over 29 pounds for a lake trout caught with a tip-up, a hands-free ice fishing device that has a flag that pops up when a fish bites.

Because Scott caught the fish illegally, it won’t be recognized as an official world record.

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Scott said he pleaded guilty in Fort Frances, Ontario, on Friday and paid a $400 fine and $90 in court costs.

“This is what I did. I got caught. I done wrong,” he said.

Scott’s problem was that he had already kept a 4-pound lake trout on the day he landed the enormous fish. By law, he could kill only one per day. Ontario officers who saw the smaller fish when they checked Scott’s license earlier in the day realized he had broken the law after seeing news reports about the big fish. They asked their Minnesota counterparts to confiscate it.

Scott, who owns a resort on a nearby lake, said what he did would have been legal on the Minnesota side of Lac la Croix, but he knew Ontario’s rules and holds no animosity against Canadian authorities.

Scott said he plans to have a replica made of the huge trout to hang on his wall.

And below it, Scott said, he plans to hang a 26 pounder he caught when he went back to the same spot Sunday.

The biggest trout could still end up stuffed and mounted.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources typically holds seized fish for 30 days after a case is resolved in case of any appeals then decides what to do with them, said Kevin Elliott, enforcement operations supervisor in Fort Frances.

“It’s kind of an unusual fish,” Elliott said, so one option would be to display it as part of an outreach trailer the ministry takes to various public events.