The Man Behind the Record-Breaking Walleye

As most of us have heard, Friday morning the state record for largest walleye caught was broken.
KX News Reporter Malique Rankin met with Neal Leier and talk about his big catch.

32.5 inches, 15 lbs 13 oz. This is the fish Neal Leier caught, breaking the state walleye record. 

Neal Leier; Record Breaker: “It was a big surprise, a lot of adrenaline rush.”

Leier says he was on the water with his brother Leon and his uncle Larry.
It was only his second time fishing this season. 

Neal Leier; Record Breaker: “My brother says there’s some fish below us. So I grabbed the fishing rod and threw it out there. So I hooked a fish. By the time we got it up to the boat, saw it was a real big one. We got it in the boat here. We decided we were going to head down south and fish some more. His buddy told us to told us to turn around and go back and weigh it in to see if it’s the largest North Dakota catch.”

As we all know now, it broke the record.

Greg Power; Fisheries Division Chief: “The previous record goes way back to 1959 so it’s a 59 year old record”

The previous record was set in Wood Lake in Benson County

Greg Power; Fisheries Division Chief: “That fish was 15 lbs and 12 oz.”

Leier’s walleye was one ounce larger, caught in the Missouri near Fox Island.
The previous record had a lot of controversy.

Greg Power; Fisheries Division Chief: “There’s a great debate about whether that was a legitimate record. If that fish really existed or was that big. That was 59 years ago. The documentation – they didn’t have social media then, they didn’t have certified scales.”

Greg Power says a catch that large is an indicator of a good fishing season

Greg Power; Fisheries Division Chief: “The walleye population itself is in really good shape, the forage, what the groceries are out in lakes are in really good shape.”

As for Leier, he says his new title has sparked some friendly competition.

Malique Rankin; Reporter: “So is there some sibling rivalry to keep this record going?”
Neal Leier; Record Breaker: “It’ll be a challenge”
Brother: “There’s gonna be, because I’m the one that fishes all the time!”

If you think you’ve caught something that could break the record Power says to take it in to game and fish, have it weighed on a certified scale, and fill out the proper paperwork to have a record recognized.

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