Five-year-old catches four trophy walleyes on Lake of the Woods
That pretty much sums up the weekend of fishing 5-year-old Maxson Hangsleben, of East Grand Forks, had Friday, Aug. 9 and Saturday, Aug. 10, on Lake of the Woods, catching four walleyes measuring from 26 inches to 31 inches.
Many anglers don’t do that in a lifetime, much less a single weekend.
Especially when they’re only 5 years old.
It all started Friday night, when Maxson released a 26-inch walleye. He followed that up the next day with walleyes measuring 26½ inches, 29 inches and 31 inches.
The 31-inch walleye will be going on the wall.
“Maxson loves fishing and yes, has raised the bar very high,” his dad, Matt Hangsleben, said. “He might not have another day (or) weekend of fishing like that in his life. He is the type that will happily spend the whole day on the boat whether the fish are biting or not, and will have a line in the water every minute.”
According to Matt Hangsleben, they were pulling spinners on the mud flats of Big Traverse Bay in 34 feet of water, an area that has been kicking out a tremendous number of big walleyes in recent weeks.
Many of those walleyes have been on the upper end of the 19½- to 28-inch protected slot, fish that must be released on Lake of the Woods.
Hangsleben, whose sons Brooks, 8, and Wyatt, 9, also are avid anglers, said the boys often ask about mounting fish.
“I tell them if they catch a 32-inch (walleye), I’ll mount it, thinking they probably never will,” Hangsleben said.
Matt’s brother, Mike Hangsleben, sweetened the deal over the weekend, saying he also would pay to mount a 32-inch walleye if one of the boys caught one.
Twenty minutes later, Maxson hooked into the 31-incher, and Mike netted the fish.
“We both burst out laughing because we thought it could be 32,” Matt said. “Max yelled, ‘We’re mounting it!’”
Mike agreed to cover half the cost since Maxson’s fish was within an inch of the magic 32-inch mark.
“Later, when he was fighting the 29-incher, I was sweating a little because it was fighting harder than the 31 did,” Matt Hangsleben said.
Not to be outdone too badly by a 5-year old, Matt released a 30½-incher Sunday, Aug. 11. Usually, he said, they catch a walleye measuring 25 inches or more every other year or so. Brooks released a 27½-inch walleye earlier this year, and Wyatt released a 27-incher last year.
This past weekend, the bar was raised to a whole new level.
“It was pretty wild getting five (trophy-size walleyes)” in the same weekend, Matt Hangsleben said. “I usually quit fishing in August and start getting ready for bow hunting when the fish move out deep because I don’t want to downrig. But I have heard more lately about people having success with spinners out there so decided to give it a try. It was slow at times, but when we found them, they were big.
“What a weekend!” he said.