Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Walleye record survives by 6/100ths of an ounce

Marblehead, Ohio – This could very well be the year that a new
walleye mark goes into the record books.

It nearly happened already.

The current record, 16.19 pounds, has stood for nearly a decade.
Tom Haberman, of Brunswick, caught that fish on Nov. 23, 1999, on
Lake Erie near Cleveland.

But, on April 5, an angler from Illinois who has fished Lake
Erie for years came within 7/100th of an ounce of setting a new
mark. Phillip Francyke and Tracy Golgin of Spring Valley, Ill.,
were fishing in Sandusky Bay near the railroad bridge when Francyke
landed a 16.13-pounder.

Francyke caught the big walleye early in the day and fished for
another seven hours before getting the fish to a scale.

All of which begs the question of whether Francyke’s walleye
would have topped the record straight out of the water?

Don Mitchell, owner of Hi-Way Bait, Tackle, and Lodging in
Marblehead, thinks it would have. Francyke was lodging at Hi-Way,
and he brought the fish there after his day on the water.

“I wasn’t here but two of the people who work for me saw it was
close to the state record so they sent him up to a local grocery
store to get it weighed on a certified scale,” Mitchell said. “He
carried it around in the boat for seven hours before he brought it
in. They say they don’t lose weight, but only 6/100ths, that isn’t
very much. I bet it would have broke (the record) had he brought it
right in.”

Ray Petering, the fisheries administrator for the DNR Division
of Wildlife, said he’s not so sure. It depends.

“It would have to be in a situation where it would basically
dehydrate some if you were going to say it was probably a state
record but it lost some weight due to this guy dragging it all over
the place,” Petering said. “If it would have been in a cooler or a
bucket for a while, no question dehydration and fluid loss would
have occurred. But, if it would have been kept in a livewell and
was in relatively good shape when the guy weighed it, I don’t know
that I would buy the argument that it lost weight. They certainly
will lose fluid depending on how they’re handled.

“It’s certainly within the realm of possibility being that close
to the record that when it first came over the side (of the boat)
that morning, it may have been (the record),” Petering said.

For the record, Mitchell said Francyke and his partner ferried
the fish around Sandusky Bay for hours with no water on it in their
17-foot aluminum boat.

Mitchell said Francyke is a regular customer of Hi-Way and has
been staying there for years on annual fishing trips to Lake Erie.
Expecting there would be media inquiries about the near record
fish, Mitchell said he asked Francyke if reporters could contact
him, but Francyke declined.

Mitchell did say that Francyke’s fishing partner tried to get
him to bring the fish in earlier to weigh, but Francyke wanted to
keep fishing.

“He said it wasn’t a big deal to him,” Mitchell said. “He was
going to get it mounted, though.”

Mitchell said Francyke was casting an Ohio-made Vib-E blade bait
modified with a single hook in accordance with Ohio spring walleye
fishing regulations. The walleye measured 311/2 inches and was
female.

“It would have been a 10-pound fish if it wasn’t full of eggs,”
Mitchell surmised.

It was apparently a good day on the lake for Francyke and his
partner, Golgin, who caught a 141/2-pounder, Mitchell said.

Given the early results, Petering said it would be no surprise
if Ohio’s walleye record is broken this spring.

“There’s no question with the size of some of those fish out
there and how long they live, that those fish are in terrific
condition,” he said. “All it takes is a remnant of one of those
older year classes to have a few of them hang on long enough and (a
new record) can happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if I got back in my
office and someone calls and says they’ve got one that weighs 17
(pounds).”

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