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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

New state record northern pike caught in North Idaho’s Hayden Lake

Thomas Francis snagged this record northern pike on Hayden Lake on March 21.  (Courtesy/Thomas Francis)

From staff reports

An angler on Hayden Lake landed a 40.76-pound, 49-inch-long northern pike that was 26.5 inches in circumference on March 21.

The catch, made by Thomas Francis, set a state record for northern pike.

The record was previously held by a fish that was also caught in North Idaho, in Lower Twin Lake, according to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game news release. The fish, caught in 2010, weighed 40.13 pounds, was 50.75 inches long and 22.75 inches in girth.

“Pike is what I go after all the time. I spend almost everyday fishing for pike. As soon as the ice is off and until it comes back,” Francis said.

Francis’ day of fishing on Hayden Lake started like any other – same gear, same approach and same goal – to catch big pike.

When he arrived that day, there was still some ice on the lake, so he couldn’t cast right up to the shore, only to the edge of the ice, according to an IDFG news release.

“When my lure hit the water, I let it sink all the way to the bottom. As soon as my lure hit the bottom, I felt her hit. I fish with 80 pound-test line, and she almost immediately started peeling drag, a lot of it,” Francis said.

Francis said he almost immediately knew this was a big fish.

“She pinned herself to the bottom and just kept going, peeling drag the whole time. I knew that wasn’t normal, and I could tell it was something special.”

After peeling drag for a while, the behemoth changed her tactics.

“Suddenly, I got slack line, as she was coming straight up from the bottom. She came flying out of the water, and it was obvious she was a huge fish,” he said.

When he finally landed her, Francis said he knew she was going to be a state record or at least a close contender.

“I immediately headed for the dock to try and find a boat with a scale and tape measure. We found a boat with a scale, and the fish pegged the scale out at 30 pounds, so we knew we needed to find a bigger scale,” he said in an IDFG release.

After visiting a few places to find a certified scale, they finally received a certified weight of 40.76 pounds.