It all started when Scott Enloe hooked a fish that turned out to be bigger than he ever could have imagined. The action escalated when he and his son and fishing partner, Hunter, landed the lunker and sprang into fast action to both record its mind-bending measurements and preserve its life.
But the moment that really cranked Enloe’s big fish story up to 11? That would be as soon as he shared the photos of himself holding the record laker.
A media hurricane soon swamped the Enloe household in Gunnison, Colorado, where Scott has fielded near-constant interview requests and personal messages ever since the May 5 catch — and continues to do so as I write this.
It’s warranted. Between Enloe’s affable enthusiasm as a sportsman, and a fish that looks like this, it’s a tall order to ignore.
An Absolute Monster
The lake trout weighed 73.29 pounds, according to the Enloes’ scales — a world record and a specimen that’s probably been living in Blue Mesa Reservoir for the lake’s entire 57-year history. If verified by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Enloe’s catch will break a 28-year-old IGFA All-Tackle record. The existing record fish was snagged, whereas Enloe caught his laker on rod and reel, hooked cleanly through the upper lip. Enloe’s fish measured 47 inches long and 37 inches in girth.
Enloe, a house builder originally from North Carolina, called me exactly on schedule. He sounded sharper than I would have after five straight days of interviews.
“I’m good. I’m run to death! It’s been absolutely bananas,” he said of the attention, which became international when outlets from Canada caught the story.
But let’s back up. Scott and Hunter Enloe’s story of the (unofficial for now) world record lake trout begins on Blue Mesa’s first fishable day.
“The ice finally broke up on Friday,” Scott said. “So we were out at the launch at 5:30 on Friday morning, third in line.”
With deep lake trout fishing experience, the Enloes knew the best depth to dangle for the biggest lakers was between 25-60 feet.
Scott cast out with his Abu Garcia baitcasting reel and a heavy Okuma rod — with a modest 10-pound test Seaguar fluorocarbon line. He baited his Colorado-made GSO Fishing hook with a 6-inch Basstrix tube jig and waited.
Catch and Release
When the fish struck, a spirited fight ensued. After 15 minutes, the Enloes finally caught a glimpse of her. They had a substantial Frabill net on board, but it was clear it wasn’t going to be enough to pull her out.
“Deadlifting” the fish out of the water, Scott finally landed it.
“That’s when we do things fast,” he said. “We go into the gear of, let’s get this thing weighed, measured, and back in the water — as soon as possible.”
Hunter’s dog, a shepherd mix named Keiko, who comes on “every trip, or else he’ll just lay around on the porch,” Scott said, approved of the haste. Normally, the curious canine can’t resist licking every fish the Enloes land — this time, he caught sight of the lunker and laid down in the corner of the boat, evidently unsure what to do next.
The Enloes, on the other hand, knew exactly what to do. But some steps of their usual protocol didn’t follow the narrative they’re used to.
“She was on board for about a minute and 45 seconds. Three times, I put her in the live well — I mean, I tried to — that fish was so big, literally, just her head would fit in the live well,” Scott said.
Still, it was mission accomplished before long, and he successfully released the animal back into the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Hunter, who guides out of Gunnison with Alpine Outfitters, knows you can safely estimate about a year per pound on lake trout once they reach 30 pounds or larger.
“When they first dammed and filled this reservoir in 1966, they stocked it with a range of lake trout,” Enloe said. “Fish from fingerlings on up to one, two, five years old. So based on that, this is a fish that’s lived here for longer than I have been alive.
“So who am I to stop it from living where it’s always lived?” He continued. “When I went to put her back, she was ready to go immediately. I held onto her for about 15 seconds, and when I released her, we had her on the depth finder at 25 feet, 30 feet, then she just faded off. She’s down there right now, I’m sure, perfectly fine.”
Catch-and-release is a cornerstone for the lifelong angler, an approach he said was the number one thing he’d like to leverage his unexpected publicity into.
Oh yeah, publicity.
Word Travels Fast
By now, the cat’s out of the bag (look for Scott on the morning show Fox & Friends soon). But the remarkable thing about it was the cat’s escape velocity.
Scott didn’t think much of it when he flipped a few of the photos to his friends while still in the boat. The Enloes didn’t fish for long — by lunchtime, they’d made it back to Gunnison.
“That afternoon, we stopped in to get somethin’ to eat, and this kid working at this restaurant said, ‘Dude, I saw your laker picture,’ and I said, ‘Well, how did you see it?’” Scott recalled. “And he goes, ‘A guy from Indiana sent it to me.’ And that should have given it away right there.”
It had been 6 hours since Scott caught the fish. And he doesn’t know anybody from Indiana.
That night, he said, his phone vibrated on the nightstand until he rolled over and turned it off. When he did, he saw 800 message notifications.
The story is history and could stay that way. The IGFA generally does not verify catch-and-release records. Among other requirements, the organization makes anglers weigh their fish on dry land.
But Enloe has never seen eye to eye with killing a fish just to get a “piece of paper on the wall,” as he put it.
“If you keep it, what are you gonna do with it? You’re not gonna eat it — at that age, it’s gonna taste terrible,” he said. “I can go to bed tonight and say, hey, I released a 60-year-old fish into the water. She deserves my respect, and I’m sure I got hers.”
World record or not, Enloe’s catch will go down in the history of Blue Mesa Reservoir and all who fish there.
“It’s the story of the one that didn’t get away,” Enloe joked, then reflected. “Hunter and I were talking about it; what if that fish came off, and we were just stuck trying to tell everybody how big it was? They all would have said, ‘Oh, right. Wow, that’s somethin’.’ And that would have been the end of it.
“We all would have walked away and said, ‘Oh, I bet it weighed 30 pounds.’ Instead, here we are.”