Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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New Ulm angler lands monster river walleye

Staff Writer

New Ulm, Minn. Had it been caught while it was full of eggs
before the spawn, a walleye caught last month on the Minnesota
River near New Ulm may have given the state record fish a run for
its money.

As it were, Al Zwach’s monster walleye, caught and released
Sunday, Nov. 28, was 30.5 inches long and weighed 16 pounds, 1
ounce. The state record walleye, caught in May of 1979, weighed 17
pounds, 8 ounces and was taken from the Seagull River in Cook
County.

Zwach, maintenance engineer for the New Ulm Public School
System, believes the walleye is indicative of a river that’s being
nursed back to health.

“It goes to show you what’s happening here,” said Zwach, who has
fished the river since he was a kid.

Zwach caught the fish just after 4 p.m. He was vertically
jigging a glow jig and fathead minnow near a deep hole in 13.5 feet
of water. Zwach has kept a fishing log book since he was young.
Year after year, his journal showed glowing jigs as being the top
producer of big fish.

“The older we get, our eyesight gets poorer,” Zwach said. “In
colder water, to catch these big ones, you have to have something
that glows so they can see it better.”

Zwach and his son, Andy who, incidentally, caught an 11-pound
walleye from the same spot about 10 minutes after his father’s
16-pounder had to break ice at the boat landing to launch the
boat.

“This time of year, the walleyes start grouping around the
holes,” Zwach said.

Nine years ago, Zwach caught a 36-inch, 14-pound walleye from
the same area.

This year’s fish was “just a thick, thick walleye,” he said.

“It’s a thrill,” Zwach said. “It’s like getting buck fever when
you shoot a big buck. Once you see it close to the boat, you get
nervous.”

Had Zwach caught the fish more than likely a female more than 10
years old around the spawn, it could have weighed about a pound
more, according to Huon Newburg, DNR southern region fisheries
manager.

Newburg wasn’t real surprised to hear a walleye that big had
been caught in the river. Anglers catch 9- and 10-pound walleyes
there with some regularity, but Zwach’s is the biggest walleye he’s
heard about.

“I would say there are a few of them around,” Newburg said. “Our
fish grow fast and die young. They live in the fast lane because of
the fertility of our waters and the longer growing season.”

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