Jaymes Hiebert from Blumenort caught a 31.25 inch and 13.02 pound walleye while ice-fishing with his dad this weekend.
He says he’s been chasing big walleyes for over 20 years now, and to catch a fish of this size in our area is quite uncommon.
“To get a fish over 13 pounds in our province is incredibly rare, so when it happens it kind of feels like a once in a lifetime type of fish,” he says. “It kind of caught us both off guard actually how big it was when it came out of the hole.”
The largest walleye he ever caught was 32 inches long and 14.6 pounds, so just slightly larger than his recent catch.
"That was my second biggest walleye ever, fishing an area that I've fished since I was a little boy and kind of grew up fishing it with my dad.”
He says it was really special to be able to catch this fish with his dad.
“My dad actually ended up being with me on the day where we caught this big fish,” he says. “He's the one that taught me everything I know, and to be able to be out here with him and share the experience together was very special.”
Hiebert says he has been going ice fishing since he was a young boy.
“I think the first time I ever went I would have been two years old,” says Hiebert. “I first started going with my grandpa and my dad and I've been doing it ever since and I have a great time.”
He spends a lot of his time ice-fishing on the Red River north of Lockport and Lake Winnipeg.
"So pretty much the Red River up through Lake Winnipeg. That whole system chasing greenback walleyes is pretty much what our primary target is.”
He has noticed that over the years the ice-fishing population has grown a lot.
"We've seen the sport grow by leaps and bounds. It's really good to see the fishing community growing and helping drive the local economy up here,” he says. “As far as I understand, there's a lot of businesses and even local tourism that really rely on it, and to have a world-class fishery so close, it's truly special.”
Hiebert says we are lucky to have such great fishing spots here in Manitoba.
“I think sometimes it can get taken for granted, and then you catch a fish like that and it kind of puts it all back into perspective just how lucky we are. We have people coming from all over North America, even some people coming from overseas to experience it.”
He loves ice-fishing because it gives people something enjoyable to do during the long and cold Manitoba winters.
“It's something that helps break up the winter, and for everybody that loves fishing it gives them an extra opportunity to enjoy the winter and not just dread it.”
Hiebert gives some advice for anyone interested in ice-fishing or fishing in general.
"One of the biggest things is to not get discouraged. You can have a lot of really tough days and catch nothing,” he says. “As a matter of fact, I'm actually out here out here fishing right now as we speak and haven't even had a bite all day. And the day that I caught that big one I only had two bites all day.”
He says to try and take it all in and enjoy the time out on the ice with family and friends.
“Just be patient, cause when it does happen, it's very special when you can catch a fish like that.”