(photo by Benny Sieu, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
RACINE – Roger Hellen first sensed he was picking up some goodvibrations Tuesday night when he was at Joey’s on Douglas with some friends.
Throwing in a buck for the “Shake of the Day,” Hellen rolledfive fives with his toss of the dice and pocketed $70.
“Actually, we were kind of talking about how I was on a rollthen,” the 38-year-old Franksville resident said.
The best was yet to come. Three days later, Hellen landed notonly the largest fish ever registered in the Salmon-A-Rama fishing contest, but a fish that might be confirmed as a world record forits species.
Trolling the Lake Michigan waters at about 8 a.m. Friday with friend Joe Miller in Hellen’s 21-foot boat, “Get Hooked,” Hellen had a strike with a brown trout that weighed in at 41.15 pounds atthe official Salmon-A-Rama weigh-in tent, but at 41.8 pounds on a certified scale. If the latter weight is ultimately accepted, it would set a world record.
The fish struck in 40 feet of water about a mile and a half northeast of the Siena Center and took about 30 minutes to net.After initially declining to disclose the bait he used, Hellenrevealed that it was a blue and green dolphin.
What was Hellen’s response when he netted the fish?
“Holy S***T look at the size of that fish!” said Hellen, who will almost certainly win the tournament’s $10,000 grand prize Sunday.
Hellen’s catch has yet to be certified as a world record, but itcertainly has the potential to earn that istinction. When Hellentook his catch to Brossman’s Meat Market Catering & Wholesale eats in Racine so it could be weighed on a certified scale, the igher weight was revealed.
If that weight is ultimately accepted, his catch would edge theworld record brown trout of 41.7 pounds, which was caught last Sept. 9, 2009 by Tom Healy in the Manistee River in Michigan.
Healy’s fish is listed as the world record by the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and the International Game Fish Association.
As word of Hellen’s catch spread, he became a celebrity. Several news outlets visited the Salmon-A-Rama grounds for interviews and photographs and his cell phone started ringing frequently.
“It actually gets kind of overwhelming,” he said.
Salmon-A-Rama co-chairman Craig Bender, a long-time fishing veteran, tried to put in perspective a fish that dwarfed the previous tournament record catch. That was a 37.40-pound lake trout caught by Michael Collins July 13, 1997.
“It’s an incredible fish,” Bender said. “It’s an incredible story. It’s one of the biggest stories there will be in Racine this year.”
Hellen, a Kenosha native who is a supervisor for Summit Packaging in Racine, had an unassuming, business-as-usual approach when discussing his catch early Friday afternoon. He wasn’t even going to concede that his catch will win the tournament, which officially ends 11 a.m. Sunday.
“I’m sure there are bigger fish out there,” he said. “There’s a
lot of people fishing, so who knows what could happen?”
So was this all just a matter of luck?
“That’s kind of hard to say,” he said. “It does take a lot of
luck, but you’ve got to know what you’re doing and be in the right
place at the right time, too.
“It’s 50-50, I guess.”
- VIDEO: 41.15-pound trout new Salmon-A-Rama record
- Roger Hellen, a 38-year-old resident of Franksville, caught the largest fish registered in the history of the Salmon-A-Rama fishing tournament Friday morning.
Video by Peter Jackel
Edited by Pete Koszyczarek