On May 23, 1979, LeRoy Chiovitte reeled in the biggest walleye ever caught in Minnesota. The massive fish weighed in at 17 pounds and 8 ounces, measured 35.75 inches in length, and had a girth of 21.25 inches. Chiovitte caught the fish above the rapids on the Seagull River, located at Lake Saganaga in Cook County, Minnesota.
The story of Chiovitte’s catch began when he and a friend decided to fish the rapids above Lake Saganaga. As they paddled upstream, they spotted a large fish swimming in the shallows. Chiovitte’s friend, who had the first shot, cast his line but failed to hook the fish. Chiovitte quickly took his turn and, using a Jitterbug lure, made a perfect cast, which the fish couldn’t resist.
After a brief but intense struggle, Chiovitte landed the walleye, which he immediately knew was huge. He and his friend took the fish to the nearest resort, where they weighed it on a certified scale. The fish weighed in at 17 pounds and 8 ounces, breaking the previous state record by nearly 2 pounds.
News of Chiovitte’s catch quickly spread, and he soon found himself the center of attention. He was interviewed by newspapers and television stations and was even invited to appear on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. Chiovitte didn’t mind the attention, but he remained modest and humble throughout the experience.
In 2016, Chiovitte’s record was challenged by a fisherman named Al Nelson, who claimed to have caught a walleye that weighed 1 ounce more than Chiovitte’s fish. However, after a review by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, it was determined that Nelson’s fish did not meet the state’s requirements for a record, and Chiovitte’s catch remains the biggest walleye ever caught in Minnesota.
After more than 40 years, the story of Chiovitte’s record-breaking catch has resurfaced, thanks to the efforts of the Cook County Historical Society. The society has acquired the fish and plans to display it in a new exhibit honoring Chiovitte and his catch. The exhibit, which will be housed at the Cook County Historical Museum in Grand Marais, Minnesota, will also feature photos and other artifacts from the day of the catch.
LeRoy Chiovitte holds the record for the biggest walleye ever caught in Minnesota. His catch, which weighed in at 17 pounds and 8 ounces, was made above the rapids on the Seagull River at Lake Saganaga in Cook County, Minnesota. Chiovitte’s story is a testament to the thrill of fishing and the enduring power of record-breaking catches.