In addition to walleye, anglers also are on the lookout for sauger and paddlefish this time of year.
Finding a sauger the size of Merchant's walleye is a nearly impossible feat, but Gritters said the two are commonly mistaken for the same.
The two fish have similar traits and common habitat trends, but the two are different when it comes to size and weight.
While catching a 13.8-pound walleye is something of legend, nabbing a sauger weighing in at more than 5 pounds is even more rare.
"A sauger is a fish that looks a lot like a walleye but a five pound sauger is huge," Gritters said. "Anglers have got to know the difference because they carry different regulations."
There are no restrictions on sauger but walleye carry a limit of six per day and must measure between 15 to 20 inches. In Merchant's case, he was able to keep his 29-inch female because she was considered a prize fish, but decided to release her back into the water.
He said he and his partner Sexton typically release 99 percent of all their catches, keeping only one or two a trip for dinner.
To him, it is more about the sport, and by releasing her that day, he offers someone else an opportunity to catch the big one. That is something Gritters appreciates in an angler.
"I applaud him for releasing it," Gritters said. "Once they get that size, it's nice to get those eggs back into the system."