Montana Man Lands Massive New State Record Walleye

A man holding a fish

I like big fish. Especially really big fish.

Exceptionally big fish have been reeled in all over the country this spring.

State records have already fallen in several states, including Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, Idaho, and Missouri.

This is the second fishing record of the year to go down in Montana. The state record for largemouth bass was broken earlier this spring.

The new state record walleye record is much bigger than that fish, though.

The record breaking walleye was impressive at 32¼ inches long with a girth that measured an astounding 22 inches around. A hand-held scale put the fish at 18-pounds and 2-ounces, which broke the state record of 17.75-pounds caught on the Tiber Reservoir back in 2007.

Trevor Johnson is the man who hooked the record walleye.

He was fishing alongside his father Kit Johnson on the Holter Reservoir.

“This spring has been a beast out there, not because there’s no walleyes, but it’s been cold and the flows have been way below normal,” he said. “Trout have been great but the walleyes, those fish are in there doing something different this year.”

Both Trevor and his father are fishing guides, and together they own Kit’s Tackle, a sport fishing retail store and outfitter service situated around the many Helena area reservoirs.

With such busy schedules taking other folks fishing, the two Johnson’s don’t get to spend much time fishing with each other anymore.

Hauling in a record breaking fish together obviously makes this memorable fishing trip all the more special.

“The fact Dad and I are both guiding now, we’re both busy so we don’t get to fish as much as we used to. So it was pretty special to be able to get out there with him.”

The fishing has been particularly tough this year, but Trevor just knew if he could just grind through the hard days then his patience would be rewarded with some good luck.

“I bet I’m close to 120 hours out there this year and I’ve only caught three walleyes. Most people would say, ‘What are you doing, you’re crazy,’ but it’s just knowing that potential is there.

We just got a little glimpse and knew it was big. We’ve seen a lot of big fish so we’re thinking maybe it’s 13, 14, 15 pounds. The fish dove a few more times and then we were able to net it and get it in the boat, that’s when it got really big.

It was obviously a really weighty fish, but we just had no idea because we’d never seen a girth like that.”

While typically selective about which fish they keep and which ones they let swim away, the Johnson’s kept the new state record despite typically throwing back the older, larger fish they catch.

“It’s an amazing fish and it shows people the potential of what you can catch around here. We both still preach selective harvest, but yeah, still some mixed emotions, but it’s a great honor especially here in the state of Montana.”

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