Eight state-records broken in 2022; two have family connections
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) verified eight state-record fish in 2022, including one that set a new International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record
There’s been plenty of fishing tales about the big ones that didn’t get away in 2022, but in a peculiar twist of events, two of them have family ties.
Jeremy and Anneliese Yancey of La Grande, Oregon, like to get out on the water — or underwater in their case — as often as they can, and have quite a story to tell about three separate Washington state records they broke in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca this past summer.
For the past five years, the couple enjoys freediving — holding one’s breath while using just a wetsuit, mask, snorkel, and fins — and spearfishing treks throughout many waterways in Washington and Oregon.
“We had a friend who took us to one of his good spearfishing spots at Neah Bay where my wife caught a big six-pound black rockfish (Sebastes melanops) on June 4, which is the current state speargun record,” Jeremy said.
Ironically, Anneliese’s black rockfish broke the state speargun record held briefly by Steven Owen of Milton who got a 5.51-pound black rockfish at Neah Bay on April 14.
That kicked off a friendly competition between the couple and their freediving friends about who could catch the biggest fish.
The friendly competition was soon reignited on the evening of Aug. 31. Jeremy decided to head out off a rocky cliff at Clallam Bay near Sekiu in 10 feet of water when he came across a good-sized starry flounder.
“Spearfishing is a nice way to be selective in the fish you want to target, and the conditions were perfect when I shot the state record 5.60-pound starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus) sitting on the sandy bottom,” Jeremy said.
The icing on the couple’s cake came during that same dive when Jeremy also caught a state-record spotted ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei) at a depth of 15 to 20 feet around the same sandy-bottomed area.
“Spotted ratfish don’t usually come up into those shallow water locations, but I got lucky when I saw the fish swimming nearby,” Jeremy said. “I knew there wasn’t an entry for a spotted ratfish spearfish state record, so I ended up getting the fish that weighed 1.88 pounds. We also got a kelp greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus) that weighed 3.5 pounds, and it came up just short of the current state record 3.88-pound fish.”
On their way home to eastern Oregon, the couple had both fish weighed on a certified scale at Michael’s Meat Shack in Aberdeen, before having them officially verified at the WDFW Region 6 office in Montesano.
This family affair fishing story doesn’t end there!
In Eastern Washington, Cathy Clegg who spends a good chunk of her summer at the family’s cabin along the shore of Loon Lake in Stevens County, broke the state and IGFA world record for a tiger trout (Salmo trutta x Salvelinus fontinalis) that weighed 27.42 pounds on Aug. 7.
Coincidentally, her son Caylun Clegg held the previous state and IGFA world record tiger trout that weighed 24.49 pounds and came off the same dock on June 26, 2021. You can read more about their fishing story by going to the WDFW Medium website.
Additional state records broken
So far, 2022 has been a state-record breaking year for other fish species including the silvergray rockfish (Sebastes brevispinis) that was broken twice just months apart and the arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias).
Richard Hale of Tukwila was drift fishing for halibut and bottom fish off Blue Dot around 40 miles offshore from Neah Bay at a depth of 350 to 450 feet when he landed a state record 6.65-pound arrowtooth flounder on Aug. 15. Hale was using conventional halibut gear with squid skirt and tuna belly as bait. WDFW verified the fish at the North Puget Sound regional office in Mill Creek on Aug. 18.
William Waltke of Edmonds was bottom fishing for halibut off Westport using a herring when he landed a 4.86-pound silvergray rockfish in 700 feet of water on June 30 — a rarity in local marine waterways. Waltke had his fish verified at the WDFW North Puget Sound regional office in Mill Creek on July 1.
The silvergray rockfish is a type of rockfish species that anglers can find from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, and they typically inhabit depths from 330 to 990 feet. Although silvergray rockfish are infrequently hooked by sport anglers, it didn’t take long for another angler to break the state record just over a month later.
Hudson Terry, 15, of Ellensburg was deep-sea bottom fishing off Neah Bay with his father, Dan, when he hooked into a silvergray rockfish on Aug. 6. Terry hooked his fish in a deep trough between 400 and 550 feet using a copper pipe trailed by a plastic jig. Back at the dock the 6.91-pound fish was verified by a WDFW biologist.
Silvergray rockfish weren’t listed in WDFW’s 2020 Washington State Catch Record Report but are presumably lumped amongst fellow Sebastes subspecies in the “Other Rockfish” category, of which 113 were reported caught, all out of Ilwaco.
Washington coastal rockfish catches are dominated by black rockfish and in 2020 a total of 104,540 were reported landed, mostly at Westport, followed by yellowtail rockfish (46,762), canary rockfish (5,797) and blue rockfish (1,432).
More information on Washington’s more than 30 species of rockfish can be found going to https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/bottomfish/rockfish.
Those who set a state record also get recognition by WDFW with a congratulatory letter and certificate, according to Bruce Baker, WDFW Inland Fish Program Division. The oldest verified state record occurred in 1943.
To learn more about Washington’s sportfishing records, go to https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/basics/records.