Harbor Creek, Pa., man came within half an ounce of tying the state record for lake trout, with a 27-pound, 12 1/2- ounce fish he caught downrigging May 13 in Lake Erie.
Shane Hackworth boated the fish on a Northern King spoon in 64 feet of calm water out of Northeast Marina, and then took it to be certified at Poor Richard's Bait and Tackle East.
"I know he ran and got it up here as soon as he could, but if it had been handled perfectly it would have surpassed the state record," said Brian Ruland, who runs the shop.
"It was longer though. The state record fish was 38 inches. This one was 41 inches. The girth was 25 3/4 inches. It was huge."
State records are based on weight and need to be bettered by at least one ounce.
Hackworth said he doesn't routinely fish for lake trout.
"But when I do, I know where they're at. The smallest we've ever gotten were around 10 pounds," he said. "I've had other big ones break off at the boat."
He and a friend had four lines in the water, including two rigged for walleye, which is what the lake trout hit at 9:30 a.m.
"It headed right for the bottom, which is what they do," Hackworth said. "It was on 12-pound test, so I didn't want to put a lot of pressure on, or I figured I'd lose it."
When he finally brought the fish to the boat an hour later, his friend grabbed it by the gillplate and pushed it into the net.
"It was the biggest weight I've ever caught in my life," said Hackworth, who couldn't fit the entire fish into his cooler. "My hand and wrist were hurting."
Lake trout are a type of char, and a distant cousin to the brook trout and to the Arctic char, which is found in Canada.