This is no fish tale: five state-record fish caught this year
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) certified five state record fish in 2022, including one that will likely be a new world record.
A northeast Washington family has quite the story about two tiger trout that broke records, not once, but twice in back-to-back summers.
Cathy Clegg routinely fishes off her family’s cabin dock in the summer along the shoreline of Loon Lake in Stevens County, and on Aug. 7, she hooked into something very big.
Clegg cast a gob of nightcrawlers into the 1,100-acre lake, like she’s done a thousand times before. Shortly thereafter, while playing with her granddaughter nearby, the rod arced in the dock’s pole holder — indicating something was tugging on the fishing line.
“I ran down, grabbed the pole out of the holder, and began to reel in the fish when it jumped completely out of the water like a salmon,” Clegg said. “Seeing it jump was very impressive. The fish ran out and back about four times, and it took about 10 minutes before my son (Caylun Peterson) managed to net the fish.”
“Caylun told me right away the tiger trout was bigger than his record fish from the previous year,” she said. “I was in total denial.”
Cathy and Caylun immediately iced the fish in a cooler and brought it to the Michlitch Spice Shop in Spokane, where an official scale verified the weight as 27.42 pounds. Clegg then took the fish to the WDFW Spokane regional office where Danny Garrett, a WDFW biologist, helped her with the paperwork and verification process.
The length of the new state and International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record tiger trout is 35 1/2 inches long and a girth of 26 1/8 inches.
Ironically, on June 26, 2021, Caylun caught a state and IGFA world record tiger trout weighing 24.49 pounds off the same dock using a gob of nightcrawlers.
“It is an amazing story,” Garrett said. “We know there are other western region lakes stocked with tiger trout, but none have tiger trout this size.”
Tiger trout are a sterile cross between male brook and female brown trout. Since they’re a sterile fish, the one thing on their mind is to eat to their hearts content. Each fall about 10,000 fingerlings are planted in Loon Lake.
WDFW also stocks tiger trout in several dozen other lakes east of the Cascades in Chelan, Spokane, Okanogan, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties.
During the past several years, Clegg says her son has caught tiger trout weighing 10 to 15 pounds, but they seem to keep growing and growing.
Clegg says her fish will be mounted and is awaiting pick up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from the family’s taxidermist who also has her son’s finished mount.
“Looks like we’re going to have two huge-mounted fish on display,” she said with a chuckle.
Additional state records set in 2022
So far, 2022 has been a state record-breaking year for a few other fish species including the black rockfish and silvergray rockfish — the records were broken in back-to-back months.
William Waltke of Edmonds was bottom fishing for halibut off Westport using a herring when he landed a 4.86 pound, 22-inch silvergray rockfish on June 30 — a rarity in local marine waterways.
Waltke caught his fish in 700 feet of water, and WDFW certified it at the North Puget Sound regional office in Mill Creek on July 1.
The silvergray rockfish (Sebastes brevispinis) 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 caught infrequently by sport anglers, it didn’t take long for another angler to break the state record a 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.
“We were catching a variety of rockfish and lingcod in a deep trough between 400 and 550 feet when my son caught the rockfish on a copper pipe trailed by a plastic jig,” Dan said. “I looked at it, and my son thought it might be a state record. Back at the dock there was a (WDFW) biologist who helped us verify the weight at 6.91 pounds, and we got all the proper paperwork done.”
The father and son duo enjoy spending time fishing together all-around Washington and had another successful outing chasing sockeye at Brewster earlier this summer.
“We like to get outdoors as much as possible to fish and hunt,” Dan said. “My son is very proud that he caught a state record fish and has been bragging to all his friends at football practice.”
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).
Steven Owen also broke another rockfish state record earlier this year while spearfishing off Neah Bay on April 14. He caught a 5.1-pound black rockfish (Sebastes melanops) — that record was eventually broken by Anneliese Yancey who was also spearfishing when she caught a 6-pound black rockfish at Neah Bay on June 4.
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.
To learn more about Washington’s sportfish records, go to https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/basics/records.