Thomas Knight pulled up from the depths a lunker for the ages on Tuesday.
The Meredith resident caught a 37.65-pound lake trout in Big Diamond Pond in West Stewartstown. The fish, believed by fish biologists to be around 60 years old, broke the state record of 28 pounds, a mark that has stood since 1958.
“It was 15 minutes of chaos and fury,” Knight explained to NHPR when reached by phone. “What a fisherman wants.”
Twenty minutes after pulling on his lucky hat, Knight says the flag on his tip-up, a common ice fishing contraption, raised to attention.
He ambled over from his seat atop a couple of milk crates crowned with a cushion to see what he had. After setting the hook, he slowly worked the monster in.
“The call you hope to get,” says Andy Schafermeyer with N.H. Fish and Game. “He and I met, and quickly inspected the fish and determined it stood a really good chance of breaking the record.”
Schafermeyer placed the fish on his certified scale, and watched it max out at 30 pounds.
“So I said Mr. Knight, I’ve got good news and bad news. You’ve got the state record, but I don’t know by how much.”
From there, the men and their giant, old fish drove over to a UPS distribution center, where Schafermeyer knew there would be larger scales.
Employees gathered around to watch the official weigh in.
“It beat the record by so much that I was almost worried that something wasn’t right,” says Schafermeyer.
“He and I had just met the hour before but we high fived and hugged, it was pretty exciting.”
Lake trout are just some of New Hampshire’s longest lived fish. They are a slow growing fish, but unlike brook trout, they can obtain these massive sizes simply because of their lifespan.
Turns out, giants like these—if you don’t release them—look better on the wall than on a dinner plate.
“Once a fish gets that old, it’s probably pretty gross,” says Schafermeyer. “In addition to accumulation of heavy metals, it’s pretty gross. I don’t think it would eat very well.”
Knight delivered the fish to a taxidermist today. He said it’s been a great couple of days.
“Four years ago, I had one on, lost it. So, then you got a couple of years: nothing, nothing, nothing. So you just go back. You keep your attitude right. It’s so rewarding.”