Murray Zelt’s grandson has dubbed him “Papa the Fish Whisperer.”
Zelt lived up to that name this week when he hooked a 27-pound lake trout in Horse Lake.
“It’s a trophy type of fish for sure, a fish of a lifetime,” Zelt, 57, said. “I’m on Cloud 9.”
Zelt, who had surgery over Christmas, was slated to go to Kamloops for a follow-up medical visit on Wednesday, Jan. 27 when he got a call asking if he could do the consult over the phone due to COVID-19.
He agreed and since he was up early, decided to go ice fishing. He chose Horse Lake because it had good cell service and he could do the consult from the ice. He’d been fishing for an hour and hadn’t got a bite but as soon as the surgeon called “my reel starts screaming.
“I could tell it was pretty special,” he said.
The surgeon, also a fisherman, was on the phone encouraging him. After the call ended, it took him another 15 minutes to get the fish out of the water. Local Jeff McMichael was fishing nearby and helped lift it through the ice. Fortunately, there were two holes close together as it would have been a tight squeeze getting it out of the standard eight-inch ice fishing hole.
READ MORE: Hooked on fishing in South Cariboo
“We were both like kids in a candy store when we got it on the ice,” Zelt said.
After a quick look and some photos, they slid it back into the water. “It’s probably as old as I am. Fish that big are 40, 50 years old,” he said. “They’re not that good eating when they get to that size.”
Zelt, an avid fly fisherman, had never really fished for lake trout before. Two days earlier, he was excited to land a 14-pound lake trout on the same lake. He partly credits his lucky t-shirt from his grandson Zayden - emblazoned with the words Papa the Fish Whisperer - for his streak.
As he watched the lake trout pull away from his hand and swim into the depths, he said it was doubly rewarding that his doctor had encouraged him to go outside and be active as part of his healing. He later texted the photos to his surgeon as the two “really hit it off,” he said.
“To be rewarded like that I feel truly blessed. I’ll probably never beat that in my lifetime but I’m content.”