Angler Aaron Schuck boated a 16-pound, 8-ounce walleye on October 27 that beat a South Dakota state record for the species that had stood for more than 20 years. Schuck, of Bismarck, North Dakota, was only 20 minutes into an outing at Lake Oahe when he hooked the fish while slow-trolling a crankbait near Akaska.
In an appearance on the Between Hooksets podcast, Schuck and his longtime fishing partner Jesse Schumaker said the fight went pretty smoothly until Schuck got his first look at the fish. “I could see her out there and she was still about 5 feet from net-range, and I almost had a heart attack,” Schuck said. “I think I panicked a little bit and just started cranking on the rod. Then he put it in the net.”
The anglers were pulling a Reaper crankbait made by Walleye Nations Creations in 40 feet of water on a channel edge, using the trolling motor to keep their speed around 1 to 1.5 miles per hour. Schuck had 187 feet of lead-core line out behind the boat, with the crankbait running about 5 to 10 feet off the bottom. He said he chose the crankbait because he’d had good luck with it in the same area just a few days earlier.
“I was down there the week before and I was using that same Reaper and a Bandit, but that Reaper kept going off,” Schuck said on the podcast. “So when me and him went, that’s the first lure I put on my lead. And then I put a Bandit on the snap weight, and the Reaper caught the big one.”
Weighing the Record
Schuck and Schumaker braved frigid conditions at the Missouri River reservoir to catch the lunker. Temperatures were in the single digits when they set out and peaked at 20 degrees, with a strong west wind. The wind made getting an accurate weight on the water impossible, as the scale kept bouncing around between 15 and 16 pounds. After fishing a little longer, they decided to head in and get an accurate weight on the fish—which turned out to be an even bigger challenge than catching it.
When they weighed the fish with Schumaker’s scale at the boat ramp, it showed 15 pounds, 12 ounces. They stopped in the town of Selby to search for a certified scale, but couldn’t find one, so they decided to head home. When they got back to Bismarck, Schuck grabbed a scale from his boat and came up with a weight of 16 pounds, five ounces. They tried Schumaker’s scale again, after warming it up first, and it also showed 16-5.
“There I sit with the state record on my fish-cleaning table, and nobody is going to know about it,” Schuck said. “It was just eating at me that this fish may be the state record, and I don’t know where to take it.”
The walleye stayed in Schuck’s refrigerator all day Sunday while he called around to locate a certified scale, finally finding one in Pollock, South Dakota. On Monday morning, he decided to weigh the fish one more time before making the drive to South Dakota: If his scale didn’t show at least 16 pounds, he decided, he was taking the fish straight to the taxidermist. It showed 16 pounds, 5 ounces.
The official weight, witnessed by South Dakota officials, who announced the new record via Facebook post on October 31, was even better: 16 pounds, 8 ounces, with a length of 33 inches and a girth of 21 inches. It tops the previous record, a 16-pound, 2-ounce fish caught by Georgine Chytka at the Fort Randall Tailwaters on November 16, 2002.