By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — During the pandemic, more and more people are taking to the water to go fishing.

You can socially distance from other anglers, but as one man found out, keeping the fish away is another story.

Last week, TJ Harig of Campbell, Minnesota caught a lifetime’s worth of fish on Lake of the Woods.

He reeled in 14 walleyes pushing 30 inches.

“The fishing was a little bit slow at first. The fish were small so I just moved around,” Harig said.

Every angler, has a fish tale about the one that got away.

Harig now has stories about fish that couldn’t stay away. While on Lake of the Woods, he wasn’t having much luck. So he moved his boat and the walleyes responded.

“It was pretty much instant. I was using an orange jig and frozen shiner minnows,” Harig said.

Within 30 seconds he hooked a 28-inch walleye. Minutes later, he caught one that was 26 inches.

“I know I caught well over 60 fish over 25 inches. And probably 150 to 200 walleyes total,” Harig said.

One of the walleyes he reeled in had a 14-inch sauger sticking out of its mouth.

“They were all fun fights. I was fishing in 30 feet of water. When you hook into a good-sized one you know it,” Harig said.

Harig himself was hooked. He posted photos of trophy walleye after trophy walleye, making at least one friend who was supposed to go with, jealous.

“I probably caught more bigger walleyes in those two days that I have in my entire life,” Harig said.

And every one was catch and release. Harig’s advice for other anglers hoping for similar luck is to get out of the house and get on the lake.

“I guess the most important thing is you can’t catch fish sitting on your couch. You have to get out on the water,” Harig said.

Harig could have kept one of the walleyes over 28 inches, but he let them all go. He said he’s waiting for one over 30 inches for his wall.

John Lauritsen

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