CONRAD — Every person who fishes has at least one tale about the big one that got away. Conrad resident Robbie Dockter’s recent fishing trip, however, left him not with a tale about the one that got away - but about the one that broke the state record.
"We got it in the headlamp and it rolled out there about 10 feet. That's when we realized we really had something special. We had to take it down the river quite a long ways, catch it between an island and get it some shallow water,” Dockter said, recounting how he reeled the fish in.
"I knew if we could get it between the island it wouldn't, probably, be able to fit due to its girth. So we drifted it down the river a bit, got it beached on the land there, and ran out there and pounced on it with the net."
Dockter and his 14-year-old daughter Sierra reeled in the 32.43-pound brown trout on the Marias River last Wednesday night.
"We did a big, long photoshoot. Probably an hour, hour and a half, trying to get the right picture. It was super dark by then. We went home, checked on the record and realized that it might've been a possible state record so we went to the local IGA there in Conrad," he said.
"Their scale only went to 30 pounds and it bottomed it out, so I called the local game warden and we ended up going to Christaens Meat, a little meat shop in Valier. They have a 100- pound scale. We all converged there to certify the weight."
The previous record for brown trout in Montana had been held since 1966 by E.H. Peck Bacon; his brown trout weighed 29 pounds and was caught in Wade Lake.
Sierra said the thought of the fish getting away never crossed her mind, but breaking the record did: "(I was) nervous it was going to get lighter when it was in the fridge and dad was going to be sad if he never broke it."
"It was surreal,” said Dockter. "I just didn't think fish like that existed in the state of Montana."
The family plans to have the fish mounted. The skeleton will be donated to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks so it can be aged, and possibly displayed at the headquarters office.
If you catch a fish in Montana that you think might be a record, FWP says:
To prevent loss of weight, do not clean or freeze the fish.
Keep the fish cool—preferably on ice.
Take a picture of the fish.
Weigh the fish on a certified scale (found in grocery store or hardware store, etc.), witnessed by a store employee or other observer. Obtain a weight receipt and an affidavit from the store personnel if no FWP official is present. Measure the length and girth.
Contact the nearest FWP office to have the fish positively identified by a Fisheries Biologist or Manager.