Ray Lavis picked the perfect time to land his biggest fish of the year. The 44-inch long lake trout he landed was enough to take first place in the Trout Festival Fishing Derby.
“I knew it was big, because just the weight,” he said describing the catch.
“The rod was bent over. I got it up to about 60 feet then it just took all the line went back down to the bottom and then I got up again to 60 feet and it did the same thing.”
Lavis estimated it took him six or seven minutes to haul in the winning fish.
“My daughter said, ‘Well, that’s not very long,’” Lavis said, laughing.
“I said, well, then clap your hands for seven minutes repeatedly.”
A master angler trout is 35 inches long. Lavis said he usually catches a few master angler sized lake trout in a year, but 2019 has been slow so far. Lavis attributed that to poor weather for the fish. Lavis said he even joked about how poorly his year was going on the lake on Facebook that morning.
“There was a caption about fishing and why so many fishermen take up golf because they’re poor fishermen,” he said. “I said, ‘I’m thinking about taking up golf, the way the season is going,’ and that was the day I caught that one. I came back. I said, ‘Oh, golf sucks.’”
Lavis also landed the third biggest fish in the competition, taking home $2,000.
Lavis is 67 years old, and said he has seen lake trout numbers decline slightly over the past decade.
“Before, it would be nothing to go and get 40 to 50 fish sometimes a day,” he said.
“Not every day but days where they’re really good.”
Lavis praised the changes Manitoba made in fishing regulations to help the lake trout population.
“A good thing is Manitoba changed their restrictions on the length and everything - especially on Lake Athapapuskow. For the lake trout and anything over 26 inches you have to release,” he said.
I’m fully for that because so anything anything over that is the spawners, they’re going to be reproducing quite a bit.”
Lavis lives at Bakers Narrows and said he caught the fish on Lake Athapapuskow. He went out fishing with two others, and the second place lake trout came from the same boat.
“I’ve always enjoyed fishing for lake trout,” he said.
“I just walk out the door, hop on my boat and away I go.”