John Kinkead’s 15.9 lb. Walleye!

On April 14th a fish of a lifetime was caught. The lucky angler was John Kinkead of Grosse Ile. John works midnights at the Cabela’s retail store in Dundee and received a report from his buddy Alex about some very nice walleye averaging eight pounds being caught. John knew his buddy’s report to be very creditable but there was just one problem, John didn’t have anyone to go fishing with that day.

With Alex’s reassures of great fishing he decided to go at it alone that morning launching his 18 foot Crestliner Sportsman into the Trenton Channel at Elizabeth Park in Trenton at 7 a.m. John had a short boat ride to the spot Alex told him to fish. For two hours he fished, without a single bite. John commented, “I was watching boats all around me net fish here and there but I was still empty handed, I knew the fish were here and was determined to catch a walleye that morning.”

John made several drifts down the river, but with no luck. At about 9:30 a.m. he decided to try fishing in 10 feet of water. Only 10 minutes into his first drift John’s felt a tug on his St. Croix spinning rod. He set the hook, and the rod immediately doubled over. “The weight on the other end of the line was heavy! It was if I was pulling a log off the bottom,” John excitedly explains.

Since he was in such shallow water he peered over the side of the boat he couldn’t believe his eyes, at the end of his line was the largest walleye he had ever seen. The fish made several fast, hard runs testing his light 8 lb Flame Green Fireline and 10 lb Vanish leader. “When the fish came to the surface we met eye to eye. She took off…all I could do was hold my rod tip straight to the water hoping my line would hold the fish.”

After a few hard runs from this Trenton channel monster John’s heart was doing back flips. He was going to have to net this fish all by himself. Now if you have ever tried netting a fish by yourself you know just how hard and how many things can go wrong in those last few seconds. All you can hope for is that the fish is tired enough to slide right in to the net. Lucky for John that is just what happened. He said, “I held the net in front of her, pulled her head into the net and kept pulling until the tail was almost in and then scooped. She was in the net!”

John just sat there, shaking, looking over his massive catch trying to clam his heart rate down. He knew he had to get the fish on a scale to see just how big the fish really was, he was thinking 12 or 13 pounds. Luckily a boat near by that watched John do battle with the monster tossed him a scale. When he lifted the fish what a big surprise! “We were in amazement the fish was tipping between 15 and 16 pounds. Wow! I thought to myself. I knew I had to have this river monster officially weighed.”

The anglers in the boat suggested he head over to Bottom Line Bait and Tackle in Gibraltar. They have a certified scale. John ended his day of fishing and headed back to the ramp. When he got to the shop everyone was gathering around trying to get a look at the fish and snapping photos. When the fish was placed on the scale, it stopped at 15.9 pounds! According to the Michigan DNR Master Angler records (compiled since 1994) this fish will fall into the number two slot in the data base for the Detroit River. A fish of this size hasn’t been recorded for the Detroit River since 2002 when William Willoughby of Eaton Rapids caught one that weighted 15.25 lbs. The largest fish in the database for the river was caught in 1996 by Richard Foster of Lansing and that fished weighted in at 16.12 lbs.

This fish is truly massive. This fish might also be a sign of new wave of giant walleye being caught in the area. Could a new state record walleye be caught this year on Lake Erie? I am hearing from DNR workers is that they wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the state records fall in the next few years. The super class of fish (2003 year class) are reaching there prime size right now. Throw in the massive shad boom we had last year and you got a receipt for some heavy fish this year.

John plans on getting this fish mounted. The fish was caught on a ½ oz Northland Gumball jig in Orange and Black. It was tipped with a 4 inch Smelt colored Gulp Minnow.