Fisherman’s Record-Breaking Catch Is Denied by State: It Was ‘Foul-Hooked’

May 16, 2019 Updated: May 16, 2019

A North Dakota fisherman caught a record-breaking walleye fish in North Dakota, but it won’t be counted, said local officials.

The states Game and Fish Department found evidence of foul-hooking when Tom Volk caught the specimen.

Volk was fishing in the Heart River on April 21 when he hooked the fish, which weighed about 16 pounds, 9 ounces, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

The Game and Fish Department announced the record-setting catch on April 22.

“Congratulations to Tom Volk for reeling in a new state record walleye! On April 21, the Lincoln angler caught the 16-pound, 9-ounce fish from shore along the Heart River in Mandan, besting the old record by three-quarters of a pound that was set last May by Neal Leier of Bismarck while fishing the Missouri River. (Note: 32 and one-half inch was the length),” it said.

But, in an update on May 13, the department investigated the catch.

“Based on evidence provided, department officials have concluded the fish was foul-hooked, and therefore cannot be recognized as a state record,” it said.

Heart River, North Dakota (Google Maps)

Foul-hooking is when one hooks a fish with any method other than having the fish bite or swallow the hook. Foul hooking is also referred to as “snagging” a fish. It’s opposed to “fair hooking,” according to FishUSA.

It’s not clear how Volk foul-hooked the fish.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported that Volk has insisted that the walleye wasn’t foul-hooked and is planning to launch “an appeal process of some sort.” He has sought legal help.

“It might not last this year,” he told Inforum before the Game and Fish Department rendered his catch void, referring to his record. “There are so many big fish in the system right now. So many guys are catching nice fish, I wouldn’t doubt if somebody breaks it fairly quickly. But I’m just enjoying the moment right now.”

“We probably caught 10 or 12 fish before that, and some good ones, before the big one. I cast my jig out and felt that nice thump you get when a nice fish takes it. I set the hook and knew right away it was a big fish,” Volk elaborated. “I was hoping it was a walleye, but when it got up near the surface and splashed its tail somebody said, ‘Oh, it’s just a big carp.’ I fought it a while longer and it finally tired and gave up. Then it came to the surface and you could see it was a big walleye. It was like ‘whoa.'”

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