DEVILS LAKE - A phone call received at Woodland Resort alerted the staff that a fisherman had just caught a big walleye and was on his way in to record an official weight. It happened shortly before noon last Wednesday.
A few minutes later everyone crowded against the windows to get a look at a man cradling a large walleye walking through the parking lot. Sure enough, the fish story was true. The walleye was placed on the scale and registered 12 pounds exactly. Tom Shields, who does some of the guide work for Woodland Resort as needed during the winter, was the lucky fisherman.
"This morning we were scouting for new fishing spots. After moving a house and clearing the area, I went back to my vehicle close to that location and drilled another hole," said Shields. "I dropped down just an orange buckshot and this fish came right up and immediately smacked me. I knew it wasn't a perch!"
Tom Shields, Devils Lake, hoists a hefty a 12-pound walleye that he pulled through the ice at Devils Lakes Feb. 6. The fish was a personal best for Shields.
A buckshot is a small spoon-type lure commonly used by ice fishermen. It has a very small treble hook, meaning it was probably overmatched by the huge walleye.
"It was almost terror that it was either going to break free or get off," explained Shields when asked about the moment he first saw the fish. "Once it was in hand it was like Christmas Day opening your favorite present."
The big fish made several long runs that tested Shields' patience and his 4-pound test line. When the whopper walleye first came into view below an 8-inch hole in the ice, it appeared to get hung up. That made for some very anxious moments for Shields who now knew he had the fish of a lifetime just a few inches away.
"You've got to take your time with it to get the head shooting up," said Shields. "Once that happened I grabbed the first thing, which was the gill plate and the teeth!"
The buckshot fell free from the fish just as Shields was lifting it from the hole. Indeed, it was his lucky day.