Surprise catch at Killarney Lake

Teen fisherman catches and releases a rare sunfish


An avid teenage fisherman landed a surprise catch on Saturday evening over at the local lake.

Colton Phillips, 14, pulled up a beautiful 7.5 inch sunfish in Killarney Lake at around 7 p.m., to his complete surprise.

“He was pretty excited,” said his mother, Sandy Phillips. “He was fishing off a dock at a neighbours’, here on the south side of the lake. He was with his 10-year-old sister, Makenna, and he caught a sunfish. She took some pictures on the phone, and then he released the fish back into the lake, to fight another day. Then he ran home to tell us. We were kind of surprised.”

Sandy Phillips says her son has been fishing-crazy for the past number of years.

“He’s fishing all the time, every day,” she said. “He just loves fishing, especially the last couple of years. He first started when he was just four years old.”

Most of the time Colton fishes with his dad, Cade, she said. They are the fishermen of the family, she added.

“He’s fished at the Red River for channel catfish, at Lake Metigoshe for sunfish – there’s lots of them there –, over at the Deloraine Reservoir, and at Bower Lake,” she said. “He’s always catching fish. This past summer they have been fishing every week, and they have caught 45 trophy fish. That’s master angler fish.”

But news of her son landing the sunfish at Killarney Lake was something quite out of the ordinary, she said.

“They researched the Manitoba Sustainable Development website, and Killarney Lake has never been stocked with sunfish,” said Phillips. “The records go back to 1917. But someone did say they had caught one here this spring, and released it.”

Colton also searched the Master Angler website, she said, and there was no existing record of a sunfish being caught at Killarney Lake, she said.

And it turns out that Colton is a bit of a star angler, which perhaps explains why he caught the rather rare fish.

“He made his first Master Angler catch in the Red River a couple of years ago, catching a catfish that was 36-and-a- quarter inches in length,” said Phillips. “We took lots of pictures, and they made a replica catfish for us and had it mounted. It’s on our living room wall. He caught another one this summer, in the Red River, that was even bigger. It measured 38.5 inches.”

Colton now has accumulated a number of ‘special badges’ for fishing, said his mother.

And lots of fish pictures.

“We have been adding them to the wall, around the mounted catfish,” she said. “There’s around 11 pictures there right now, and four more to go up, including the sunfish. They are beautiful; they remind me of aquarium fish.”

A VERY SPECIAL FISH – Angler Colton Phillips, 14, was surprised as heck on Saturday evening, August 25, when he landed this rare beauty – a sunfish – from a dock on Killarney Lake. It’s the first recorded catch of the species, and his 10-year-old sister Makenna snapped this excellent photo, before Colton released the live 7.5-inch fish back into the lake.


FISH WALL OF FAME – After snagging a winning master angler catch of a 36-and-a-quarter–inch catfish over on the Red River a few years ago, Colton Phillips had a replica fish created and mounted to commemorate the huge catch (centre). Since then, he has been adding more fish pictures to the family’s living room ‘wall of fame,’ and soon a sunfish one will join them.