WESTMORE, Vt. (AP) – State officials have confirmed that a lake trout landed by a Plainfield man from the cold depths of Lake Willoughby is a record.

About 90 minutes after starting his fishing day July 20, Shawn Dutil pulled in a behemoth lake trout that shattered the state record. Dutil, 25, reeled in the 35-pound, 3.2-ounce laker, a massive, big-headed trout that bested the old state record mark by more than a pound.

“That is my fish of a lifetime,” said Dutil. The fish was the first laker to bite Dutil’s line that morning. Dutil was trolling a spoon on the bottom in about 100 feet of water, “yanking” it as he went with sweeps of his hand.

“Sometimes when you’re yanking you get big sticks and stuff on the bottom,” Dutil said. “When it hit I knew there was a lot of weight there, but I wasn’t really sure it was a fish until he was on for a couple minutes.”

Dutil, a mason’s tender, said the fish fought back briefly. The fight, a quick battle that belied the power of the brute, took only about 10 minutes.

“Some of them come easy and some don’t,” Dutil said. “Once he got into the warm water, it was pretty much over.”

Fishing just a few yards from Dutil was another angler, Ed Bates of Waterford. After landing the fish, Dutil motored over to Bates’ boat to show him the whopper.

“He asked me how big it was and I said I thought it was 36 inches long,” Dutil said. “He said he thought it was way bigger than that.” It was. The fish was almost 44 inches long with a girth of 25 3/4 inches. The pair scrambled to find a certified scale at a business that was open early on a Sunday morning. They wound up at The Village Sport Shop in Lyndonville where the official weight was recorded.

Eric Palmer, the director of fisheries for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, lives near The Village Sport Shop. A phone call brought him to the store to see the fish.

“It sure looks like a Lake Willoughby fish,” said Palmer. “Every year we see fish out of that lake in the 25- or 30-pound range. We know there are some really big lake trout in there.”

Lake Willoughby, with a maximum depth of 308 feet, was carved by glaciers. Mount Pisgah on the east and Mount Hor on the west frame the picturesque lake dotted with summer cottages.

Palmer said the department would try to figure out the fish’s exact age once some bones in the head were extracted by a taxidermist. A best guess, said Palmer, would put the fish somewhere between 30 and 35 years old.

AP-ES-07-27-03 1457EDT



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