Jim Beres and his nearly 27-pound lake trout. (Jim Beres)

Jim Beres was fishing for walleye, trying to win a boat in the Lake Erie Fall Brawl. He caught Ohio’s record-biggest lake trout instead.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is headed to Sheffield Lake today, to examine the trout and verify the new record, at 26.63 pounds and 38 inches.

“We didn’t even know what it was. We thought, maybe it’s just a giant walleye but it’s old,” said Beres, who was fishing off Lorain Friday with his brother. “But I thought, the mouth ain’t right. It was just crazy. We were screaming, we were excited! It broke the net.”

Lake trout are a native fish in the Great Lakes but have become so rare that the federal government now stocks them in Lake Erie, near the Erie Islands. But they generally swim toward the deeper waters of Pennsylvania and New York, said Craig Lewis, of Erie Outfitters in Sheffield Lake, which weighed the fish.

“No one really targets them in Ohio,” Lewis said in a phone interview. “Maybe this year 50 will be caught in Ohio, and that’s a tremendous amount.”

The fish have microchips in them, so ODNR will be able to track its movements throughout its life.

Jim Beres caught Ohio’s biggest lake trout ever Friday, while fishing for walleye in the Lake Erie Fall Brawl. (Jim Beres)

Beres, 47, of Lorain, has been fishing since he was 5 years old. He loves hanging out with friends and family and meeting new friends at the pier.

He took off work at Ford Motor Co. last week to hunt deer. But he went hunting only one day, preferring to hang out on Lake Erie instead.

“I think I put 80 hours on the boat since Thanksgiving,” he said. “We were fishing, fishing, fishing.”

Beres caught the trout on Friday morning, using a purple-and-yellow JT custom Bandit lure. He plans to get the fish mounted.

“I don’t know what we’ll do with it. I’d like to have it on my wall for a little bit. I’d also like to other people to see it.”