State record perch topped again

Lake Cascade keeps producing record perch, but ice fishing is done.

rphillips@idahostatesman.comMarch 6, 2014 

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Tia Weise, a seventh grader at North Star Charter School in Eagle, is now a state record holder after landing this perch.

PROVIDED BY GARY WEISE

Well, that didn’t last long.

The state record that stood for 38 years has now been topped three times in two weeks, all at Lake Cascade.

Welcome the new heavyweight champ, 12-year-old Tia Weise of Eagle, who landed a 2 pound, 11.68-ounce yellow perch on Saturday.

It broke Boisean Luke Spaete’s record breaker of 2 pounds 11 ounces that he landed on Feb. 15.

Lake Cascade’s perch are a modern success story due to Fish and Game’s effort to restore the glory of the reservoir’s former perch fishery that dwindled in the 1990s and has rebounded with record-sized fish.

It’s also produced some entertaining fish stories.

Weise landed her fish while fishing with her dad, Gary (Does that name sound familiar?).

They were fishing in an ice-fishing shelter with their jigging rods when the spool on a stationery tip-up rig nearby start peeling line.

Gary knew a big fish had hit by the rate line was screaming out, but he thought it might be one of the lake’s rare tiger muskies taking it.

They sprinted to the tip up, only to discover slack line, and they assumed the fish was lost. Then both the jigging rods they’d left in their shelter start scooting across the ice.

Tia sprinted and grabbed them both, and what came next was not only fighting a fish, but undoing a puzzle.

The fish had hit the tip-up rig and then swam into the other two lines. So they had one fish on their hands, but it was connected to three lines going through three different holes in the ice.

Gary slacked the other lines while Tia reeled in the fish. He said it took about five minutes to undo the puzzle.

When Tia pulled the perch through the ice, there was a bird’s nest of line with two hooks tangled in it and a third hook in the fish’s mouth.

“I started freaking out because it was huge,” she said.

Gary used a hand-held electronic scale to weigh the fish. It read 2.7 pounds. The existing state record was 2.68 pounds.

Gary knew that because two days after Spaete broke the 38-year old record, Gary also broke it, but his fish was smaller than Spaete’s.

“That’s just the way it goes,” Gary said. “I was happy for Luke, and I was happy with what I caught.”

His handheld scale was not official, so they put the fish in a bucket and headed to D9, a Cascade grocery store with a certified scale.

The fish topped Spaete’s by a hair more than two-thirds of an ounce.

Gary had twice came achingly close to holding the state record perch, but said he was more excited that his daughter caught it.

They knew a potential record was likely swimming in the reservoir after the recent run of big fish being caught.

“It was a goal I wanted to get, but I didn’t think it would happen,” Tia said.

Spaete was gracious in turning over his newly won perch crown to the young angler. He knew the pair because the Weises competed in the Hardwater Classic, an ice fishing derby that Spaete hosted in January.

“I’m just really happy for her. She put her time in and got rewarded,” Spaete said. “She is a dedicated fisherwoman for sure.”

Will Tia’s record be like the 38-year old record, or Spaete’s two-week reign?

Cascade has produced dozens, if not hundreds of perch exceeding 2 pounds this winter. The largest perch are females adding weight as they grow eggs, and they will continue to grow until they spawn in early spring.

Ice conditions on the lake are degrading. Recent rains have floated the ice pack off the shoreline so there’s open water, and mild temperatures in the forecast.

The ice fishing season is likely over, and fish will spawn and lose weight by the time anglers return to the reservoir.

Anglers and biologists will likely have to wait until next winter to see if the new record holds.

Biologists say the age group of large perch had several years of good feeding conditions that allowed them to grow to record size, but reservoir’s burgeoning perch population may mean more competition for food and smaller perch in the future.

But Mike Hall of Ogden, Utah has been fishing the reservoir and tracking its trophy fish. He predicted Spaete’s record would fall this year, and thinks there’s another record out there.

“The fish is there, there’s no doubt,” he said.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

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