Scott Enloe, a Colorado nature enthusiast, snagged what could potentially be recognized as the new world-record lake trout during a fishing trip with his son, Hunter, on May 5. The handheld scale aboard their boat indicated the fish weighed 73.29 pounds. This extraordinary catch is over 20 pounds heavier than the existing state-record lake trout and exceeds the IGFA all-tackle world record for the species by more than a pound.
The sight of the colossal lake trout is truly mind-boggling. The approximate 47-inch fish boasted an impressive 37-inch girth, surpassing the angler’s own waistline.
“I have some other photos that—I regret to admit—almost seem artificial,” Enloe shares with Outdoor Life. “I mean, it’s just absurd. A 37-inch girth and my waist is 35 inches. It was utterly amazing. Because of its immense girth, the fish doesn’t even appear to be 47 inches long.”
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This hefty female looked to be laden with eggs, but Enloe emphasizes that this was not the case. Lake trout spawn in autumn, and Enloe explains that the fish’s tremendous belly was actually filled with kokanee salmon, the main food source for lake trout in this specific water body. Initially, Enloe tried to conceal the location of their remarkable catch. However, by Monday, the word had gotten out that they were fishing on Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest man-made lake.
Enloe, a former professional bass angler and a member of the USA Men’s Fly Fishing Team, disclosed to Free Range American that he was using a heavy rod and a bait caster loaded with a 10-pound fluorocarbon line. The trout fell for a six-inch tube jig. After battling the fish for nearly 15 minutes, the anglers had to lift the trout into the boat manually, as their large landing net was much too small.
The massive lake trout could not fit into their live well (which was also undersized), so the father-son duo swiftly measured, weighed, and photographed the fish, determined to return it to the water alive. Hunter’s scale maxed out at 50 pounds, while Scott’s read 73.29 pounds. This entire process took roughly two minutes, and a sequence of Instagram videos captures them releasing the fish back into the lake.
“Murdering the fish never crossed my mind,” Enloe states. “This is one of the largest lake trout ever caught. Full stop. And I could have easily recorded it in the [IGFA] book, but that would have required killing it. And I was absolutely not going to do that.”
Since the lake trout was released, Enloe acknowledges that there are additional hurdles to overcome before it can be officially recognized as an all-tackle world record by the IGFA. He believes that due to their meticulous measurements and documentation of the entire process, his fish could potentially supersede the current all-tackle world record laker—a 72-pound fish caught in Canada’s Northwest Territories in 1995.
“I’d be thrilled to hold the world record, and it is the world record,” Enloe asserts confidently. “But if we don’t achieve it… I know what I caught, my son knows what I caught, and I’m content with that.”
At the very least, Enloe’s lake trout will be recorded in the IGFA book as the all-tackle length world record. (The existing length record for the species is roughly 42.5 inches.) Whether the fish will be acknowledged as a Colorado state record is still uncertain, but Enloe’s catch was at least 20 pounds heavier than the current weight record. (Based on a formula calculating the trout’s length and girth, Enloe’s fish could have weighed close to 80 pounds.)
Besides its noteworthy size, Enloe’s trout was also incredibly old. After discussions with Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials and local guides, many speculate that the fish was one of the original lake trout stocked by CPW in 1966, when the Blue Mesa Reservoir was constructed. This would make the fish approximately 57 years old. (The oldest recorded lake trout was around 62 years old, as per the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.)
“That fish is nearly 60 years old, and I wasn’t about to kill it out of respect,” Enloe declares. “I tricked it once, and that might have been the only time it’s ever been deceived. But I’m not going to end its life for that.”