Minnesota’s State Fish

     The Walleye is Minnesota’s State Fish and the record for our state was caught on the Seagull River just a stone’s throw from Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.  It was caught on May 13, 1979 and weighed 17 pounds and 8 ounces and was 35.8 inches long.  I can’t imagine catching a fish that size, but then again, the biggest fish I’ve caught weighed just over 5 pounds. It was a sunfish, but still it didn’t weigh much so I threw it back, just kidding. Here’s the story from the man who caught the state record in an excerpt from a Conservation Volunteer article.

Leroy Chiovitte knows just how much Minnesotans revere walleye. The low-key angler from Hermantown caught Minnesota’s state record walleye in 1979. He hooked the 17-pound, 8-ounce fish near the mouth of the Seagull River at Lake Saganaga.

"For weeks after, there were a lot of calls from the media wanting to hear the story," Chiovitte remembers. "I was in the Duluth paper, the Twin Cities newspapers, Winona, North Dakota. There was even a photo of me and the fish in Outdoor Life."

He also heard from many anglers around the state. "Mostly they wanted me to take them fishing," he says. "But fishing with me doesn’t mean you’re going to catch a record. I was fortunate. The chances of catching another fish like that are pretty slim."

Shortly after catching the fish Chiovitte was invited to display his record fish at a taxidermy convention in Canada. On his way there, he stopped to do some sales business at the Boise Cascade paper mill in International Falls. "The guys found out I had the mounted fish in my car, and they practically had to shut down the plant because everyone left to go see it."

Chiovitte says people frequently recognize his name, and he still occasionally appears on television and radio around the opener of the walleye season. Now retired from his sales job, he continues to fish walleye regularly but has always preferred to pursue trout and pick blueberries. "I’ve always enjoyed getting out and walking more than sitting in a boat," he says. "But I’ve had a lot of fun with the record, and it’s okay if someone breaks it now."

"But I don’t think anyone’s going to beat it," he adds.

     It seems everyone loves to fish for walleye.  I prefer to go for something easier like smallmouth bass or northern pike but walleye is by far the favorite of most Minnesotan’s.  Whether it’s their pretty color, elusiveness or tasty fillets I’m not quite sure.  I’m pretty sure I won’t beat the state record walleye, but I bet my son Josh will come close.