VERNON - We’ve all heard tall tales about the fish that got away, but Clayton Willinger of Vernon has a story that will blow them all out of the water — and it’s 100 per cent true.
It all started with a Dec. 12 ice fishing trip to Ladyking Lake, just outside of Falkland. Fishing was slow, but near the end of the day, Willinger got a bite — a big one.
“It was a monster of a fish,” Willinger says.
He almost had it out of the hole when the line snapped, and the fish escaped with his lure.
“We were all pretty bummed out,” he says.
It wasn’t until a week later that Willinger returned to the lake with nine other fishing buddies. This time, they set up on the other end of the lake.
“Jokingly I said ‘I’m going to get my hook back today’ and everybody laughed,” he says.
Not ten minutes later, Willinger got the first bite of the day. It was a fighter, and as Willinger pulled it up through the hole, his friends got ready to grab it. This time, the line didn’t break, and more miraculously, the roughly six-pound Rainbow trout had Willinger’s hook in its mouth from the week before.
It was the same fish.
Willinger couldn’t believe his luck.
“(I was thinking) that would be a crazy one in a million chance if I actually caught the same fish… and that I wanted to get it out of the hole this time,” Willinger says.
That’s when the group stopped to consider the odds of such a catch. Not only did Willinger catch the same fish in a lake with some 1,500 other trout in it, he caught it on the opposite end of the lake, a week later, and out of nine other rods in the water, the fish went to his.
“I’m glad it happened with some witnesses or else everyone would just think it was a fishing story,” he says.
He plans to tell the story to his grandkids one day, and says he’ll probably frame a photo of himself with the fish — which he released back into the lake.
“So I can catch it a third time,” he says.
Clayton Willinger recounts his incredible fishing story.