Barbara Spizuoco of Ripley wasn’t having much success fishing on Feb. 2, and had decided to change things up a bit.
She never got the chance.
Instead, a monster lake trout showed up, latched onto her lure, and took it for a ride.
“I was in the fish house, jigging, on a short pole,” said the 73-year-old grandmother of two. “My friend I go [fishing] with was out setting traps. He came in, then went back out again, then came in. … I told him, ‘You know what? I think I’m going to try to get some white perch.’”
That decision meant a change in tactics. Spizuoco had been jigging on the bottom of the lake, targeting lake trout, also known as togue. She expected to find perch a little higher in the water column. But first, she wanted to change her lure and add some fresh cut bait to it.
“So I started reeling up and I got it up a bit and I said, ‘I’ve got a fish on,’” she said. “I thought it was a white perch. [My friend] was right there and I told him, ‘I can’t pull this up. It’s too heavy. I just can’t do it.’”
The duo took turns fighting the fish, and the battle lasted about 30 minutes. Spizuoco said she expected the excitement to end at any moment.
“We didn’t know what kind of shape the line was in because it was twisting,” she said. “We were sure it was going to break.”
Eventually, she and her friend hauled a monster togue up through the ice and into the ice house.
The fish measured 37½ inches long and weighed 16 pounds.
“I actually was kind of on the numb side because I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I’d never seen a fish that big before. We were both kind of amazed. It was unbelievable.”
The fish is now in the care of a local taxidermist, and will make a fine wall mount.
And Spizuoco was already making plans to fish the lake again.
“We’re going out tomorrow,” she said with a laugh.
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