The rainbow trout that Jack Housel Jr. landed on “a really cheap lure” and 24-pound line apparently is a world record.
At the Libby, Mont., post office Tuesday, it weighed 33.1 pounds and was 38.62 inches long, said Scott Snelson, biologist with the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
“We took it to the post office in Libby because that’s the only scale in town that was certified and large enough to handle this fish,” Snelson said of Monday’s catch.
The rainbow now in the record books weighed 31 pounds, 6 ounces and was taken from Lake Michigan in 1993. That fish dethroned a 29-pound, 2-ounce rainbow taken from the Kootenai River in 1991, probably within a quarter of a mile from where Housel scored, said Jay DeShazer, a technician in the Libby office.
Housel caught his whopper in the Kootenai River just below Libby Dam, 17 miles east of Libby, on a 1-ounce silver and orange Pot o’ Gold lure.
“It’s a real-cheap-to-buy lure, about $1.69,” he said. “You can buy’em anywhere.”
But he was also using a new type of line called spiderwire, far stronger and tougher than monofilament, and without it he could never have landed the fish, he said.
The fish collapsed quickly after leaping several times but it still took 20 minutes to land.
“That’s why I caught him so easy,” Housel said. “It leaped five or six times. You know - the way the big ones raise up part way out of the water and slosh back and forth. It was exciting.”
The wildlife department has sent a tissue sample to a genetics laboratory in Missoula to confirm that Housel’s fish is a rainbow. Housel also has some paperwork to complete before his fish goes down as the official record.
‘Big One’ update
Ernie Crossley’s 22-pound, 9-ounce chinook leads the way as the Lake Coeur d’Alene Anglers Association’s “Big One” Derby heads toward the finish.
Scott Houk ranks second with a 21-pound, 12-ouncer, and Donald Houk is third with a 20-pound chinook.
The event ends Sunday. The largest chinook caught is worth $10,000.
Tickets, at $25 apiece, remain on sale at Fins & Feathers in Coeur d’Alene, Skipper Bill’s in the Spokane Valley and Blue Goose Sporting Goods in St. Maries, Idaho.
Waterfowl hunt extended
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission set earlier and longer-than-usual waterfowl hunting seasons at its meeting Saturday in Richland.
Statewide duck hunting will open Oct. 4, one week earlier than the traditional second Saturday in October, and run through Jan. 17. The season will be two weeks longer than it was in 1996.
Goose hunting will begin Oct. 11 and continue through Jan. 18 in most of Western Washington and all of Eastern Washington. Goose hunting will be open on selected days of the week in southwestern and eastern management areas.
Duck hunters will be allowed to take up to two hen mallards and three pintails in a daily bag limit of seven ducks.
Commissioners also set a statewide youth duck/coot hunting day on Sept. 27 and an Eastern Washington youth upland game bird hunt Sept. 27-28. The hunts will be open only to hunters 15 years of age or under who are accompanied by a non-hunting adult over the age of 18.
Federal guidelines for migratory waterfowl allowed for expansion because North American duck production is at record levels, thanks to increased water in breeding areas.
Steelhead run shows promise
Following an extraordinary summer of salmon fishing, early reports on the fall steelhead run look exceptionally good, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
As of Aug. 5, 102,593 steelhead had been counted crossing Bonneville Dam, an increase of 158 percent from the same date in 1996. A comparable number of fish had not crossed the dam by the same date since 1988. As many as 158,000 steelhead may cross by Aug. 25, department officials said.
Most of the steelhead are A-run fish, smaller fish that have spent less time in the ocean than the later-running and larger B-run fish, the department said. Most B-run fish migrate to the Clearwater River. A-run steelhead usually inhabit the Snake and Salmon River drainages.
Through Aug. 5, about 6,000 steelhead had crossed Ice Harbor Dam at the mouth of the Snake River and about 2,000 had passed Lower Granite Dam. Both numbers are comparable to 1996, when the run totaled 97,652 at Ice Harbor and 86,666 at Lower Granite.
Area hunter wins
Billy Rasmussen of Spangle won the elk permit Friday when the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife raffled off special permits to hunt deer, elk, bighorn sheep and moose.
Rasmussen’s ticket was among 5,079 sold in the elk drawing. Cory Henson of West Richland won the moose raffle, which had 2,474 entries. Gene Snyder of Rochester, Wash., won the deer raffle and Bryan Bailey of Onalaska, Wash., won the bighorn sheep raffle. A total of 2,829 and 1,454 tickets were sold in those categories.
The Legislature-approved raffle raised $65,130 for species management programs. Two alternate winners were drawn in each category.
Busy agenda in Idaho
Deer and elk management, big-game harvest survey techniques, allocation of big-game tags to outfitters, waterfowl and upland game seasons and limits and a variety of other game-management issues will be included on a packed agenda Thursday and Friday when the Idaho Fish and Game Commission meets in Boise.
The commission will ask for public comment on a proposed return to a monthlong season for sharptail grouse and on criteria for setting bonus seasons for quail and chukar.
Several items involving the department’s financial status will be discussed when the first session begins at 8 a.m. Thursday in department headquarters, 600 S. Walnut.
An open house has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Montana site opens
Plans are on track to give anglers their first formal public access to fishing sites along Montana’s Ruby River, beginning Friday.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission has adopted emergency fishing regulations for the river downstream from Ruby Reservoir, the final step before four of the five access sites are opened.
The department has arranged about 6 miles of public access through three leases of private land, a no-cost lease of property from the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and the purchase of 76 acres from a landowner 2 miles below Ruby Dam.
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