While its worldwide popularity may not rival that of the largemouth bass or the muskie, walleye have long been a favorite target of freshwater anglers in the U.S. and Canada.
With their distribution stretching throughout most of the interior of these two countries, walleye have developed a strong following among recreational anglers who can target these species year-round – making them especially appealing to ice fishermen, in addition to those fishing in warmer climates.
Although catching an International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record is never a sure thing, there are certainly some times of the year, and some locations, that consistently produce world class walleye. Here are the stories behind the fish, and anglers, of the world’s walleye record book.
<h2>Mabry Harper</h2>The folder in the <a href="http://igfa.org/" target="_blank">IGFA</a>'s Record Department designated "Mabry Harper’s World Record Walleye" is chock-full of articles and letters related to the controversy that has followed this catch over the past half century. <p></p> It has been more than 50 years since Harper pulled a 11.34-kilogram (25 pounds) walleye from Old Hickory Lake, near his home in Tennessee on the morning of August 2, 1960. Luckily, Harper’s wife (seen in the photo) realized the significance of the catch and took it to be officially weighed-in at the Second Creek Resort, before Harper cleaned the fish for dinner (which he later did). <p></p> Harper’s fish was submitted for record consideration, and was quickly approved as the new world record walleye. But as time progressed, questions began swirling about the legitimacy of this record claim – particularly the reported girth measurement of 29 inches. <p></p> In 1996, the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame decided to remove Harper’s catch from the record books, due to “persistent rumors” they had received. However, the IGFA, who had inherited all original documentation and correspondence of the record in the 1970’s, still recognizes Harper’s walleye as the heaviest ever caught on a rod and reel.