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It’s official: ID angler shatters WA tiger trout record

FISHING —  An 18.49-pound tiger trout caught in Bonaparte Lake near Tonasket on May 5 has been confirmed as a Washington state record, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today.  

The catch was reported earlier but records processing has taken more than two months.

Kelly Flaherty, 53, of Priest River, Idaho, caught the trout measuring 32.5 inches while bait fishing with a worm and egg at the Okanogan County lake.

A tiger trout is a cross between a brown trout and brook trout. The hybrid is a sterile trout that's fond of eating forage fish.  Tigers are stocked in lakes where they can help control prolific sunfish, perch and other forage fish.

“The fish skyrocketed out of the water,” said Flaherty, who was fishing from a boat launch. “As soon as I hooked it, I was whooping it up, while a crowd gathered around the whole time.”

Flaherty estimates it took 15 minutes to land the fish from the time he set the hook until he pulled his prize onto the boat launch without a landing net.

The record exceeds the previous record tiger trout record by 3.45 pounds. That fish was caught in 2012 by Kirk Herrin in Roses Lake, Chelan County.

Columbia River smallmouth just shy of 50-year-old record

FISHING – A Camas, Washington, angler had a close call with a 50-year-old state fishing record Wednesday on the Columbia River.

Using a plastic grub near Stevenson, the angler caught a 8.53 pound smallmouth measured by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist Joe Hymer.

“It was 21 7/8 inches long and had a 18 1/2 inch girth,” Hymer said.

“The state record is an 8.75 pound specimen caught on the Hanford Reach in April 1966.  

Bonaparte tiger trout likely state record

FISHING – An 18.49-pound tiger trout caught May 5 from Bonaparte Lake near Tonasket is a pending state record.

 Kelly Flaherty, 53, of Priest River hooked the lunker 10 feet from shore on what he said was going to be the last cast of a long day of slow fishing.

The fish was weighed on a certified scale an measured by Washington Fish and Wildlife  staff at 32.5 inches long with a girth of 21.75 inches, but officials said Friday the record had not yet been officially processed. 

If approved, Flaherty’s fish will top the 15.04-pound state record set in 2012 at Roses Lake in Chelan County.

A tiger trout is a cross between a brown trout and brook trout. The hybrid is a sterile trout that's fond of eating forage fish.  Tigers are stocked in lakes where they can help control prolific sunfish, perch and other forage fish.

Giant rainbow trout caught in NF Clearwater

FISHING — An Idaho angler fishing the North Fork of the Clearwater River caught the big one he had to let get away.

On Jan. 8, Larry Warren landed a rainbow trout downstream from Dworshak Dam that would easily be a new state record, but he couldn’t legally keep it.

Any rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with an intact adipose fin is legally considered a steelhead and must be released if caught in waters where steelhead might be found.

Wild steelhead (ocean going cousins of rainbow trout) are protected in the Snake River system under the Endangered Species Act.

Hatchery steelhead are marked by removing the adipose fin. In order to ensure wild steelhead are protected in Idaho waters, Fish and Game requires all rainbow trout longer than 20 inches be released unharmed in waters where wild steelhead naturally return.

Warren landed the monster rainbow and knew he had no choice but to let it go, but he and his fishing companion took photographs and weighed and measured the giant before putting it back in the water.

Their scale put the rainbow at 28.37 pounds. They say it was 32 inches long with an amazing girth of 28.5 inches.

Idaho Fish and Game staffers tested the scale the anglers used, and found it to be relatively accurate, but in order to qualify for a place in Idaho’s record books, a fish must be weighed on a certified scale.

Fish and Game officials say they see photos of giant rainbows landed on steelhead streams from time to time, and anecdotal information suggests these fish are caught more often than some might think.

Once a rainbow trout reaches 20 inches in waters that might contain wild steelhead, it receives protection that rainbows in other waters don’t share. Since 2010, all trout in the Clearwater and North Fork Clearwater were excluded from harvest to protect adult and juvenile steelhead.

Even though this fish was likely stocked as a sterile 10-inch rainbow trout intended for harvest around seven years ago, it has received the same protection as wild rainbows in catch-and-release only waters like the upper Henry’s Fork. If not for that protection, it is unlikely those fish would survive long enough to attain that size.

The fish also had the advantage of living below a dam, giving it access to some pretty easy food coming out of the Dworshak’s turbines.

Regardless of whether this fish could or should have made it into Idaho’s record books, here's the best news: 

  • Somebody caught it and got a photo record of the catch.
  • Now it's back in the river to make the day for another angler.

Idaho girl’s perch declared ice-fishing world record

FISHING — An Idaho girl has landed a national fishing distinction.

Tia Wiese, 12, of Eagle, caught a yellow perch weighing 2 pounds 11.68 ounces on March 1 at Lake Cascade. Shortly afterward, the fish was confirmed as the Idaho state record for the species.

But during a hunting trip in Wisconsin, her father, Gary Wiese, visited the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. He learned of a special world-record category for ice fishing with a tip-up — and the yellow perch record was 2 pounds 6 ounces caught in Massachusetts.

“I knew there were different line class records, but I didn’t know there were records like ice fishing,” Gary said.

The Wieses sent the paperwork on Tia's fish to the Hall of Fame and recently received confirmation that it had been declared the new world record for the largest yellow perch confirmed as being caught while ice fishing using a tip-up rod.

In the late 1990s, Idaho Fish and Game Department fishery managers recognized that Lake Cascade’s perch population had depleted dramatically. Addressing angler appeals, they began a program to rejuvenate the fishery. Thousands of yellow perch were released into Lake Cascade, and those fish successfully spawned, beginning a rapid recovery of the lake’s perch population.

Fifteen years later, Lake Cascade has a strong population of yellow perch. In 2014, anglers were regularly catching them in the 2-pound range. Tia's father caught one almost as big as hers.

While Tia’s state record and world record remain on the books for now, plenty of anglers will be trying to catch a larger perch this year. Yellow perch spawn in early spring, and right now the females preparing for the spring spawn are adding weight as their eggs grow.

The next couple of months will tell whether Tia will retain her place in Idaho’s record books, and at the top of the world’s list of perch caught through the ice using a tip-up.

Pacific bluefin tuna record caught by Ellensburg angler

FISHING — Sam Ellinger of Ellensburg has set a state record for the largest Pacific bluefin tuna caught off the coast of Washington, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed.  

The 39.20-pound tuna measured 41 inches and was caught 28 miles offshore southwest of Grays Harbor.

Ellinger, a student at Central Washington University, said he began the day early and was bait-fishing with anchovies, "from the crack of dawn until it got dark."

"Catching a fish this size was pretty exhausting," he said.  "We didn't know what we hooked until we got it on the boat."

The previous Pacific bluefin tuna record was caught in 2012 by Patrick Fagan while fishing 35 miles offshore from Westport.

Pacific bluefin tuna facts courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

  • Among the largest and fastest fish in the ocean.
  • Streamlined to reduce drag around their fins for energy conservation on long-distance journeys. Tuna also can become super-streamlined by retracting or folding fins against the body so water flows even more smoothly over their bodies.
  • Capable of swimming 12-18 mph for brief periods.
  • Unlike most fish, tuna are warm-blooded and can heat their bodies to 11 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding water. This added warmth helps their muscles work faster and more efficiently.
  • Consume as much as five percent of their body weight daily and must continually swim with their mouths open to force water over their gills, supercharging their blood-rich muscles with oxygen.
  • Migrate more than 6,000 nautical miles to the eastern Pacific, eventually returning to their birth waters to spawn off of Okinawa, between Taiwan and the Philippines and in the Sea of Japan.
  • Overfished throughout the world.

11.8-pound record coho caught in Clearwater

FISHING —  Idaho Falls angler Steve Micek landed an 11.8-pound coho from the Clearwater River on Sunday, Nov. 9, to set an Idaho state record for ocean-run coho salmon.

The catch tops the record set last month as Idaho's first designated coho season kicked off in the Clearwater. Both record fish were caught by anglers casting spoons.

Here's the scoop on the new record from Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:

An Idaho Falls man caught an 11.8-pound coho that is a pending state record on his last cast into the Clearwater River this weekend.

If verified by record keepers at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Steve Micek will end the short reign of Moscow’s Ethan Crawford as Idaho’s coho king.

Micek landed the fish while casting a KO Wobbler Spoon for steelhead Sunday near Orofino. He was fishing with his son, Greg Micek, who saw an article last month about Crawford’s 9.4-pound coho, which set a record in the opening weekend of Idaho’s first-ever sport fishing season for coho. The younger Micek speculated they might have a shot at the record if they got into coho.

“My response was, ‘Yeah right,’ ” Steve Micek said.

They did find some coho, but the fish were in poor shape.

“Most of the ones we saw were pretty well beat up,” he said. “They had been spawning heavily. The tails were damaged, the sides were damaged, but this fish was really clean, like it just arrived,” he said.

The father-son fishing team landed a few female cohos and had good luck with steelhead during their weekend trip to the Clearwater. Late Sunday morning, they decided to quit for the day and head for home rather than wait for the afternoon bite.

“I said I was going to take a few more casts and, on the second cast, I hooked this fish,” he said.

The coho hit hard and pulled strong, but didn’t fight for long.

“I wish I could say it hard-boiled me across the river, but it didn’t,”

Steve Micek said.

It was the first male they landed and required a quick consult with the World Wide Web to verify it was indeed a coho.

“There are so many chinook in the water you have to be really careful,” he said.

 From there, he had the fish measured at the department’s check station and then headed to Harvest Foods to have it weighed on a certified scale. He then had the species verified by Conservation Officer John McClain.

Micek is in the process of filling out the record application and plans to mail the package to Boise. If everything is in order there, he will hold the state record.

Idaho opened the Clearwater River to coho fishing Oct. 17, following a surprisingly large return of the fish declared functionally extinct from the Snake River basin in 1985. The Nez Perce Tribe started a coho recovery program in 1995, using eggs from coho that return to tributaries of the lower Columbia River. After making steady progress, the run hit new highs this fall. Through Monday, more than 17,800 coho were counted crossing Lower Granite Dam. Anglers have caught about 80 coho since the start of the season, which runs through Sunday.

Idaho record coho caught on Clearwater

FISHING — Idaho's first specific coho fishing season opened Friday on the Clearwater River and before the weekend was over, the state had a new record for coho salmon.

Ethan Crawford caught a 9.4-pound coho in the Clearwater and had it officially weighed, according to Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department Clearwater Region fishery manager.

Crawford, 32, of Moscow, is a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist. He's also worked for Idaho Fish and Game.

"Seeing this is basically the first fishery we have had on ocean going coho, it was not surprising to me to see the old record fall which was caught out of Cascade Reservoir (6 pounds) in 1992," DuPont said. The previous records was a fish the spent its life in freshwater.

"I can tell you that there are many more out there that are even bigger," he said, noting that a lot of fish in the 10-pound range are moving up the river.

Anglers, many of them steelheaders, were bonking the coho and filleting them for the dinner table this weekend without even thinking about record books, DuPont said. Both clipped and unclipped coho can be kept during the fishery that runs through Nov. 16.

Be sure you know how to ID a coho while fishing the Clearwater.

If you catch a fish that you believe could be a new record, see this link for directions on how to get your fish verified:

The Snake River run of coho was declared extinct in 1985. But the Nez Perce tribe began a restoration effort in the Clearwater River starting in 1995. The run gradually improved before taking a giant leap forward this fall with the return of more than 15,000 adults.


Curlew Lake tiger musky state record pending

FISHING — A tiger musky officially weighed at 37 pounds, 14 ounces caught in Curlew Lake on July 25 is a Washington state record for the species — pending the official declaration from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

David Hickman of Richland caught the lunker that measured 50.375 inches long by 23.75 inches in girth. The fish was weighed the day it was caught on the certified scale at Anderson's Grocery in Republic.

It easily exceeds the current state tiger musky record of 31.25 pounds caught in Western Washington's Mayfield Lake on Sept. 22, 2001.

"The paperwork still needs two more signatures to make it official, but I think it's safe to say that it will be the new state record," Kent Mayer, a warmwater fisheries program biologist in Spokane, said Tuesday.

The tiger musky is a cross between two formidable predators — eggs produced by female muskellunge are fertilized in hatcheries with the milt of male northern pike. The resulting hybrid "tiger muskies" are sterile, enabling fish managers to stock them in small numbers as a trophy fishery without worry that they will reproduce out of control and gobble up other fisheries.

It's illegal in Washington to catch and keep a tiger musky under 50 inches long. Anglers must know how to distinguish tiger muskies from northern pike, which are considered an invasive species in Washington.

  • Northern pike display horizontal rows of light-colored round to oval spots on a dark background.
  • Tiger muskies display irregular shaped dark colored vertical markings on a light background. Sides sometimes have alternating patterns of bars and spots on a light background but patterns NEVER resemble the spots of a northern pike.

Tiger musky anglers are a patient lot. Hickman, who says he's pursued tiger muskies for years, said he's used to making many casts for the occasional payoff.  During the recent family vacation at the Ferry County lake, he said he'd landed and released only one other tiger musky — a 36-incher — and lost a second lunker perhaps in the 50-inch range at the boat.

His third tiger musky of the trip, the pending record, struck his white spinner bait on the ninth and final day of the vacation.

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fisheries biologist in Pasco, said he measured Hickman's tiger musky at 11 a.m. on July 28 after the fish had been kept on ice in the livewell of the angler's boat all weekend.

Three days after being caught, the fish measured 38 pounds even on the agency's unofficial scale, Hoffarth said.

The fish was reared at the Meseberg Hatchery in Franklin County near Ringold prior to release as a juvenile into Curlew Lake, said John Whalen, regional fisheries manager in Spokane.

Other facts:

  • Tiger muskies have been stocked for trophy fisheries in about 10 Idaho lakes and seven in Washington, including Silver, Newman and Curlew.
  • Idaho's state record tiger musky, 44.26 pounds, was caught Aug. 6, 2013, by Edward Kalinowski of New Meadows in Little Payette Lake.
  • See a video the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has posted with tips for catching tiger muskies.

Idaho record perch caught in Lake Cascade

FISHING — An Idaho record yellow perch was caught Saturday in Cascade Lake north of Boise.

Luke Spaete of Boise was participating in a fishing derby when he caught the fish, which weighed 2 pounds, 10.88 ounces and was 15 and three-quarters of an inch long.

Cascade Lake has a clear connection with lunker perch. The old record of 2 pounds, 9.6 ounces was set in 1976 and tied two years ago at Lake Cascade. Another angler in last weekend's fishing derby caught a fish on Sunday that would have broken the old record, but was short of Spaete's new record fish, according to the Idaho Statesman.

Spaete said he’d already caught two pretty big perch before spotting “one giant blob” on his fish finder. The perch’s belly and dorsal fin scraped the edges of the 8-inch hole in the ice, he said.

Four men needed to land record sunfish in Puget Sound

FISHING — Sunfish, the midgets of inland lake fisheries, have won new stature in the saltwater of Washington's Puget Sound.

A mola weighing up to 350 pounds was caught within view of the Seattle skyline on Tuesday night. It took four men to pull the fish aboard a tribal gillnetting boat.

Click "continue reading" for the who, what and why story about this giant sunfish by Mark Yuasa of The Seattle Times.

Idaho’s largest rainbow won’t be official record

FISHING — A monster trout caught below Dworshak Dam in July has been deemed a rainbow following DNA analysis. That makes the 28-pound, 9-ounce fish the largest rainbow trout legally caught in Idaho, according to a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Morning Tribune.

However, Tui Moliga of Lapwai won't land his name in the state record books for the fish.

Moliga, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, legally caught the fish below Dworshak Dam at a time the river wasn't open under state rules to harvest of rainbow trout longer than 20 inches. But the area was open under tribal rules.

After he caught the fish, Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials faced a pair of dilemmas regarding his request to have it considered as a state record.

Read on for the rest of Barker's story explaining this unusual circumstance:

Idaho tiger musky record smashed

FISHING — Edward Kalinowski of New Meadows, Idaho, smashed the state's 12-year-old record for tiger musky while fishing in Little Payette Lake on Aug. 6, the Idaho Fish and Game Department has confirmed.

Kalinowski landed the 44.26 pound lunker on a 12-pound test line with a Neon Magic lure. The fish is 50.5 inches long with a 25-inch girth.

The previous record was 38 pounds, 7 ounces, 48.25 inches with a 22.5- inch girth. It was caught June 16, 2001, in Hauser Lake by Douglas Butts of Eureka Mont., on a Mepps Bucktail Yellow lure.

Tiger muskies have been stocked for trophy fisheries in about 10 Idaho lakes and seven in Washington, including Silver, Newman and Curlew.

  • See a video the Washington Deparatment of fish and Wildlife has posted with tips for catching tiger muskies.

Record rockfish was 64 years old, not 200, tests show

Update: Tests later indicated the fish was 64 years old, according to an Alaska Fish and Game report..

FISHING — The record-breaking rockfish that caught national attention last week after biologists esitmated it was more than 200 years old has been proved to be a youngster.

Henry Liebman of Seattle caught a 39.08 pound shortraker rockfish while fishing with Angling Unlimited out of Sitka on June 21, 2013, breaking the Alaska state record of 38.68 pounds caught in 2001. Alaska Fish and Game Department biologists officially aged the fish at 64 years old.

  • Initial reports of the fish's age were estimates based on observations.
  • The official report was issued Friday after scientists in Juneau studied the otolith, the fish's equivalent of ear bones.

"It's impossible to age a rockfish once it has matured just by looking at it," said Kristen Green, groundfish project leader for Alaska's southeast region.

The oldest aged rockfish, a rougheye, was 205 years old and measured 32 inches.  Liebman's fish measured 41 inches, which encouraged unsubstantiated claims of a 200-year-old fish.  

Shortrakers mature by age 10 and reach their peak size shortly after. 

Liebman, who'd caught a huge shortraker in a prvious visit with Angling Unlimited, asked his skipper to help him and his party target big rockfish again.  They were fishing in 850 feet of water when he hooked the record fish.

The fish was weighed at 45 pounds on the boat, so Captain David Goss, knowing the fish would lose weight every hour out of the water, raced back to get the fish officially weighed by Fish and Game officials.

Follow the process of the fish going through the official channels to be named a state record.

Record rockfish, 200 years old, caught in Alaska

FISHING — A Seattle man fishing in Alaska caught a 40-pound shortraker rockfish that experts believe could be 200 years old, which would easily predate the Alaska Purchase in 1867.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel reported that Henry Liebman was deep-sea fishing off the coast of Alaska on June 21 when he hooked the record-setting shortraker from a depth of approximately 900 feet.

Shortrakers, which have hues of orange, pink or red on top of their white bodies, are one of the most commonly sought fish in Alaska and can live at depths of more than 2,500 feet.

Troy Tidingco, Sitka area manager for the state Department of Fish and Game, said the fish is still being analyzed but he believes it is at least 200 years old. The current record is 175 years. Researchers are able to determine the age of a shortraker by the number of growth rings along its ear bone.

Record mackinaw handled like a baby

FISHING — Getting a record fish weighed and verified isn't as easy as one might think.  Certified scales are rare. Fish quickly begin loosing ounces after they are killed. 

Phil Coylar of Wenatchee got some great advice as he came to the dock at Lake Chelan with a mackinaw he knew was a state-record candidate on Monday: Head for the local hospital, a fishing guide told him.

Luckily the hospital staff was as excited about his fish as he was.

Click continue reading for the story from the Wenatchee World.

Pending state record mackinaw landed at Lake Chelan

FISHING — A 35-pound, 10-ounce pending state record lake trout was caught Monday in Lake Chelan by Phil Colyar of Wenatchee, according to a report on Northwestern Outdoors Radio.

The current official state record mackinaw also was caught in Lake Chelan — a 35-pound, 7-ounce fish caught in 2001.

Colyar, a Spokane native, told The Spokesman-Review this morning that he cut his teeth on fishing at Spokane County lakes before moving to an angler's paradise, where he takes full advantage of the upper Columbia salmon and steelhead runs and Lake Chelan's underrated lake trout fishery.

Fast facts:

The fish: 35 pound, 10 ounce lake trout (or Mackinaw).
Tale of the tape: 44.5 inches long, 28-inch girth.
The angler: Phil Colyar, 56, of Wenatchee. Colyar moved to Wenatchee in 1983 from his native Spokane, where he was graduated from Shadle Park High School. (His wife, Carrie, was a graduate of Mead High School.) The Colyars own a jewelry store in Wenatchee.
Date Caught / Location: Feb. 4, 2013 at Lake Chelan, near the Yacht Club.
Tactics: Trolling a newly bought U20 MPPT (Purple and Pink) Flatfish. Depth: 270 feet.
Other Gear: Lamiglas 8 1/2 foot rod, Abu Garcia Level Wind Reel, Maxima 18-pound line.

Record Roses Lake tiger trout all but confirmed

FISHING RECORDS — The 13.75-pound state record tiger trout caught in Spokane County’s Fish Lake on May 27, 2008, by local angler Evan Roda has finally met its match.

The vetting and paperwork isn't complete, but Washington Fish and Wildlife department officials say it looks likely that a 15.04 pounder caught in Roses Lake of Chelan County will be the new record.

Kirk Herrin, a painting contractor from Manson, landed the big brook trout/brown trout hybrid last month while fishing for bass. He was casting a Fluke — a soft swim-bait lure.

The only tiger on the books, from anywhere, larger than Herrin's fish is the IGFA all-tackle world record of 20 pounds, 13 ounces, caught in Lake Michigan 34 years ago.

Read more details in this Everett Herald story.

Pending brown bullhead record nixed: fish IDed as channel cat

FISHING — Nice try. Even Washington fish biologists couldn't tell just by looking. But they were skeptical, so they did some tests….

The photo above shows a fish submitted as a potential Washington state record brown bullhead after being caught this fall from Lacamas Lake in Clark County.

The fish was unofficialy weighed at 28.1 pounds, said Joe Hymer, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist in Vancouver.

But today Hymer reported: "Upon further review…..genetic sampling determined this fish to be a channel catfish.   While a nice size fish, the state record channel catfish weighed 36.20 pounds, caught by Ross Kincaid in I-82 Pond #6 of Yakima County on Sept,. 6, 1999."

The current state record bullhead is 11.04 pounds caught in an unnamed lake in Snohomish County in 2000.  Typical size bullheads would be a mere appetizer for this lunker.

Lucky sucker sets Idaho fishing record on SF Snake River

FISHING — A fly-fisher is taking a ribbing from his buddies, but he can stand tall in his waders for making the Idaho state fishing records with a 25-inch long Utah sucker weighing 7 pounds, 13.8 ounces. 

Rick Thompson, 47, of Idaho Falls caught the fish Saturday on the South Fork of the Snake River with a No. 18 Pheasant Tail nymph, according to a story by Rob Thornberry in the Idaho Falls Post Register.

He thought he was stalking the brown trout of his dreams.

Read on for the details from Thornberry's fish story.