How much would you pay for a world record lake trout?

Earl "Punk" Palmquist wants to sell his world record.

The International Falls, Minn., angler caught the world-record lake trout while ice fishing in 1987 on Clearwater West Lake near Atikokan, Ontario. The 40-pound lake trout, now mounted and on his wall, is still recognized as the largest taken through the ice.

But for the right amount of cash, Palmquist will part with it. He has two good reasons, he said.

One is named Dusty, and the other is Nicholas.

"I've got these two grandsons," said Palmquist, 80. "Both are going to college. One's already going, and the other will go next year. I need some money."

He'd like to help his grandsons, Dusty and Nicholas Schwartz of International Falls, with their expenses.

And Palmquist has had some health problems. If he has a few bucks left over from the sale of his mounted fish, well, that would help defray some of his medical costs.

Friends in International Falls have helped him list the fish on eBay, the Internet auction site. The bidding closes Saturday. The minimum bid is $500.

He has no idea how much the fish might be worth to the right bidder.

"There's only one in the world like it," he said. "There are a lot of lake trout fishermen."

Palmquist thinks maybe some lodge owner might want the mount.

Matt Yernatich, a Duluth taxidermist, isn't sure what Palmquist's fish might bring. Yernatich creates graphite composite replicas for anglers who have released their trophies, and he charges $12.95 per inch based on the length of the fish. A lake trout such as Palmquist's would cost nearly $600.

But it wouldn't be the real thing.

"There are people who are purists, who don't believe in replicas," Yernatich said.

Outdoor retailers such as Cabela's or Bass Pro Shops might be interested in the lake trout to display in one of their stores, Yernatich said.

Palmquist, a former heavy equipment operator, was fishing with two friends on Clearwater West Lake in February 1987 when he hooked the huge lake trout. The fish took a bucktail jig tipped with both a sucker minnow and a shiner minnow, Palmquist said. The water was 80 feet deep, but Palmquist said the fish hit at about 50 feet. He was using 14-pound-test Trilene line.

"He took off like you can't believe," Palmquist said. "He stopped and went again."

Palmquist said he had little line left on his reel when the fish ended its second run.

"If he'd have gone another three or four seconds, that would have been all she wrote," he said.

It took him 50 minutes to land the fish. His two friends drilled another hole next to the one where Palmquist was fishing, then chipped out the ice between the two holes. That gave Palmquist more room to get the fish up through the ice. He couldn't believe how large it was.

"It looked like a piece of popple (aspen)," he said.

The lake trout was 43 inches long and 27½ inches in girth. At an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources office four hours later, it weighed exactly 40 pounds on a certified scale. Palmquist still has the paperwork to verify it. The fish is still listed by the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward as the largest lake trout taken through the ice and kept.

Over the years, Palmquist has loaned the mount to several lodges or motels in the International Falls area. He's had it at home for the past eight or nine years. The mount is in excellent condition, he said.

Palmquist has no qualms about selling it.

"Not really," he said, "because I want to help those kids."