Originally published by CBC News, January 28th, 2018

The Flood of the Century may have spawned the largest walleye that Lake Winnipeg ice fishers have seen in recent memory.

Veteran ice fisher and nature guide Lee Nolan said this year, fishers are finding giant walleye in Manitoba’s largest lake — and he said it all started with excellent spawning seasons.

“We’ve got a good shot at breaking a world record up here this year, I think. There’s lots of people catching fish of a lifetime…”

“So back in 1997 and 2000, when we had very high water, walleye had a very, very good spawn,” said Nolan. “So you’ve got year classes of fish.”

The 1997 spring flood that affected large parts of Manitoba is considered the Flood of the Century, meaning the water reached the highest point it’s expected to reach in a century.

“Those fish are getting very mature now, so that’s why you’ve got a higher percentage of the biomass in the lake [that] is actually very, very, large fish.”

So how big are the fish?

“I believe the current ice-fishing record is about 35, 36 inches [roughly 90 centimetres] and I think there’s some fish that size out there,” said Nolan, adding so far, the biggest one he’s caught was 32 inches (81 centimetres).

“They’re very healthy, girthy fish.… It’s probably the best walleye fishing in the world right now for large walleye,” he said.

“We’ve got a good shot at breaking a world record up here this year, I think. There’s lots of people catching fish of a lifetime out there right now.”

Walleye weigh roughly one to two kilograms (two to four pounds) in a normal year, said Nolan. This year, they’re seeing seven-kilogram (or 15-pound) fish.

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