Record-Sized Walleye Was Foul-Hooked, Agency Says

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record.

Record-Sized Walleye Was Foul-Hooked, Agency Says

After an investigation, the 16-pound, 9-ounce walleye was determined to be caught illegally. (North Dakota Game and Fish photo)

What looked like a state-record walleye in North Dakota a month ago has turned out to be not one for the record books.

North Dakota Game and Fish said this week that the 16-pound, 9-ounce walleye caught on April 21 out of the Hart River will not be certified as a record.

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

At first, the catch by Tom Volk of Lincoln, N.D., was believed to have beaten the record (15 pounds, 13 ounces) set last year by Neal Leier on the Missouri River. But that news created a whirlwind of harsh reaction on social media.


North Dakota Game and Fish originally congratulated the angler in a Facebook post, but quickly began hearing from witnesses that the fish had been foul-hooked, and therefore not a legal fish.


“After the fish was visually verified by Game and Fish, and information was released about its record weight, we started receiving information that the fish may have been foul-hooked, which led to the subsequent investigation,” the agency said. “Statements from eyewitnesses and other information contributed to the eventual finding.”

Volk, who said he likely will not appeal the decision, told the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead that he’s convinced it was a legal catch and that the evidence was “inconclusive at best.”

The angler told the Grand Forks Herald that he has received a lot of negative reaction — “I’m being cyberbullied,” he said — since the catch and subsequent investigation. Reaction came almost immediately and included video evidence that seemed to show the fish was foul-hooked. See that video and read the Grand Forks Herald's fascinating look at the investigation HERE, in which Volk also shared photos he says support his side.

According to the state: “Possession of foul-hooked fish is illegal. Any foul-hooked fish must be immediately returned to the water regardless of condition. A foul-hooked fish or snagged fish is defined as any fish hooked or caught in any area from behind the gill covers to the tail.”


To qualify as a state record, a fish must be harvested in accordance with rules for recreational fishing.

Anglers can visit the Game and Fish website, to see a complete list of state record fish requirements.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

MLF Pros: What

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the Garden State's hottest bass fishing. Destinations

7 Best Bets for New Jersey Bass

J.B. Kasper - October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the...

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures? Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

Game & Fish Digital Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

See More Trending Articles

More Walleye

Clues to the best presentations for walleyes often stare anglers in the face. Interpret what graphs are saying, and fish accordingly. Walleye

Match Sonar Specifics To Presentation Speed

Joel Nelson - June 28, 2019

Clues to the best presentations for walleyes often stare anglers in the face. Interpret what...

There is no shortage of excellent fishing to be had all over the Northeast in the coming months. Here are a handful of top destinations to pursue some of the region's most iconic species. Playbook

The East's Hottest Summer Fishing Destinations

Jeff Knapp

There is no shortage of excellent fishing to be had all over the Northeast in the coming...

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record. Walleye

Record-Sized Walleye Was Foul-Hooked, Agency Says

G&F Online Staff

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record.

Lake of the Woods offers fantastic action, from early ice until late in the hardwater season. Walleye

Hardwater Handbook: Northern Ice Fishing Heats Up

Joel Nelson - January 06, 2020

Lake of the Woods offers fantastic action, from early ice until late in the hardwater season.

See More Walleye

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now