Young Tanner Stone of Schroon Lake didn't realize he had hooked into his largest laker ever while ice fishing Paradox Lake March 8, until his father Greg peered down into the hole and guessed its length at probably 3-feet.
"I looked at him and said, 'Well then, I better do what the fish wants to do,'" Tanner said, and quickly let the line slip through his fingers as the fish dove for safety.
At age 12, Tanner is already an avid ice fisherman and has put a number of decent lake trout on the frozen tundra. He drew from that experience landing his most recent trophy. His mom, Chris, accompanied Tanner and Greg that day and witnessed the catch.
"I let him run five or six times," Tanner recalled. "It took out at least 12 feet each time."
The fight lasted nearly seven minutes, before Tanner could guide the fish's head to the hole and the gaff waiting there in his father's hands.
When the fish hit the ice, both were astounded at its size but they had little time to celebrate as three more flags had triggered while Tanner was fighting the laker.
"One had taken a bunch of line, and when we reset it we caught a pike," he said.
While Tanner said he spends more time fishing nearby Schroon and Eagle lakes, he said the family opted for Paradox because the Schroon Lake Fishing Derby was taking place that day.
The family brought the fish home and filleted it, but Tanner said they may have it recreated by a taxidermist from the pictures taken that day.
"We were thinking it wasn't quite big enough to mount, but my mom said a lot of people wait a lifetime for a fish like that," Tanner said.
You make a good point, Chris!
Speaking of the 17th annual Schroon Lake Fishing Derby, some dandy fish were weighed in this year by the 554 contestants who turned out.
Here is a rundown of the results:
• Northern pike: first place, Jim Duntley (11.17 lbs.); second place, Ted Meade (10.46 lbs.) and third place Billy Taylor (9.64 lbs.)
• Lake Trout: first place, Carter Hart (10.81 lbs.); second place, C.J. Prosser (6.90 lbs.) and third place, Keith Sheerer (6.28 lbs.)
• Salmon: first place, Robert Vogel (3.55 lbs.); second place, Billy Taylor (3.16 lbs.)
• Perch: Joe Knizek (1.40 lbs.)
• Pickerel: Judy Harrington (3.10 lbs.)
The pack basket raffle was won by Dennis Furushima; a Carhart jacket was won by David Vermculen; and a second Carhart jacket was won by Jennifer Knapp. The ice auger raffle was won by David Johnson. Hourly door prizes were drawn both days and also presented to the winning anglers. The members of the Schroon Lake Fish & Game Club said they would like to thank all participants, all who donated toward the prizes, and all the volunteers who made the weekend such a success.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. His column appears weekly