Skydive instructor Emma McIntosh’s catch is thought to be the largest brown trout caught in Otago’s Lake Wanaka.
Emma, a first-year angler, was out on her parent’s Fish & Cruise Wanaka boat with skipper Jeno Hezinger looking out for fish to cook on-board the boat during her lunch break from work when the trout caught the line.
“[I] definitely was not expecting anything of that size to even be in the lake, let alone come out of it on my line,” Emma said in an interview with Fishing & Outdoors. “We were all pretty shocked.”
Hezinger added that in his 16 years of experience fishing in the lake, he had never seen anything close to that big.
“Lake Wanaka always manages to surprise me but I definitely wasn’t expecting that,” he said.
Although records are not kept for individual lakes, Otago Fish and Game officer Cliff Halford, who has worked in the area since the 1980s, said he had not heard for such a big fish being caught in Lake Wanaka.
“Every few years someone catches a biggie over 10lb (4.5kg) but not over 10kg,” Halford was quoted as saying by Stuff. Emma says they were about to head back when the fish caught the line.
“It put up a really decent fight. [We] managed to get it close to the boat and then it fought really hard and took the line all the way out—that happened twice, and then on the third time, we managed to get it close enough to get it in the net and pull it on-board.”
Emma added that they do not use heavy lines because they were not expecting to catch anything big and so had to bring it in slowly to ensure it did not snap the line.
“With a fish that size, I would have loved to have just taken a photo and put it back,” she said.
However, the fish had completely swallowed the lure and the hook and as it had put up a big fight, it had done a lot of damage to the inside of its throat and would not have survived if it was returned to the water.
“After seeing the size of it, we considered getting it mounted but it was in a truly amazing condition so we thought that would have been a bit of a waste, so instead, it fed us and a few friends for a couple of days.”