It's official after nearly four months. The 41.8-pound brown trout Roger Hellen of Yorkville caught off Racine July 16 during the Salmon-A-Rama fishing contest has been declared a world record in one division and has a share of a record in another.
The 39-year-old Hellen was informed Wednesday by Jack Vitek, World Records Coordinator for the International Game Fish Association in Dania Beach, Fla., of the news.
"IGFA has officially approved both all-tackle and line-class records for Roger Hellen," said Vitek, whose organization is located four miles south of Fort Lauderdale.
Hellen will share the all-tackle record for brown trout with Tom Healy, who caught a 41.7-pound brown trout Sept. 9, 2009 at Manistee River, Mich. Even though Hellen's fish was one ounce larger, it didn't meet the IGFA's requirements to claim sole possession of the record.
"If a fish is heavier than 25 pounds, the incoming fish has to be one half of one percent greater than the fish that is currently there," Vitek said. "Because he only beat it by one ounce, it wasn't heavy enough, so it was a tie."
But it was a dramatically different story in the 50-pound line class division. The previous record was a brown trout caught by Paul Loquasto on April 29, 1986 in Lake Ontario, N.Y., that weighed just 14.4 pounds.
When asked how Hellen's record could be so lopsided in this division, Vitek said, "It's maybe because no one has really targeted brown trout on that heavy of a line. There's a multitude of reasons. Some of the other brown trout records that are up there, 30 or 40 pounds, were on wider tackles."
Hellen and fishing partner Joe Miller caught the record fish a mile-and-half northeast of the Siena Center about 8:30 a.m. July 16. Two days later, his catch officially won Salmon-A-Rama's grand prize of $10,000 and Hellen earned another $700 for registering the largest fish of his category.
During the last four months, Hellen said his life really didn't change that much with one exception: He has been asked numerous times by people on the street to recount the events leading up to his historic catch.
"I've been asked hundreds of times," said Hellen, an assembly supervisor at Summit Packaging in Racine. "I can probably rattle it off in 30 seconds or less."
Another frequently asked question is whatever became of Hellen's fish. Since late September, it's been in Harvard, Ill., where taxidermist Matt Kapraun is preparing the fish to be put on permanent display in Hellen's home.
Hellen said he paid $800 for the job, which is expected to be completed in March.
But Hellen said what he accomplished in July is something that will never tempt him to boast.
"You can't talk something up too much because you never know what's going to happen down the road," he said.