Anglers hook huge northern pike, whitefish
Serious North Idaho anglers may want to study the alignment of the stars and the weather patterns for the morning of Aug. 6 to see if it’s more than a coincidence that two state record fish of different species were caught on the same day.
“It was a sweet morning for fishermen, that’s for sure,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department Panhandle Region fisheries manager, who confirmed the records for northern pike and lake whitefish.
The records included:
• A 51 1/2-inch-long northern pike weighing 40 pounds, 2 ounces caught in Twin Lakes by Kim Fleming of Coeur d’Alene.
• A 26-inch-long lake whitefish weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces, caught at the north end of Lake Pend Oreille by Dale Hofmann of Hope.
“What’s interesting is that neither fisherman was targeting the species he caught,” Fredericks said.
Fleming was trolling for trout with a Wedding Ring lure and worm when he hooked the lunker pike, usurping the 39-pound, 13-ounce record caught in Lake Coeur d’Alene in 2007.
Hofmann was trolling for lake trout with a U2 FlatFish plug when he caught the whitefish to break the 3-pound, 8-ounce record caught in Lake Pend Oreille in 2006.
“That’s the most amazing thing, catching a whitefish on a big lure,” Fredericks said, noting that whitefish don’t eat other fish.
“Usually anglers catch them using little jigs or something like that.”
Both men said they’d probably eat their prizes rather than have the trophies mounted.
And Hofmann didn’t wait.
“I invited 12 of my buddies over, my wife made a bunch of other food,” he said, noting that one of the guests was Pete Comstock, the neighbor at Jim and Margaret’s RV and Trailer Park who talked him into having the fish officially weighed.
“We had a big stag party,” he said. “They all had me sign pictures for them of me with the fish; then we had a feast. Delicious! I don’t have a mounted fish, but I have pictures of my buddies eating it.”
Hoffman said he generally fishes for lake trout to eat and share with friends as well as to collect the $15-a-fish bounty the state offers for the species as part of a Lake Pend Oreille kokanee fishery recovery program.
“I’ve caught 110 lake trout so far this year, but I’ve caught up to 230 one year,” he said, noting that he fishes 80-90 days a year.
He was fishing about 10 feet off the bottom in 65 feet of water when his FlatFish hooked the lunker whitefish.
“I’ve tried fishing specifically for whitefish, but I’ve only caught about 10 of them, and the biggest was about 2 pounds,” he said.