Last week, I announced that catching a state-record fish is one of my New Year’s resolutions.
It’s a lofty goal, for sure, but thanks to a new Idaho Fish and Game program, it’s more attainable.
Starting this year, Idaho will recognize record fish in the catch-and-release category. The new list is separate from the long-standing records based on weight, which requires harvesting the fish.
I think it’s a fantastic idea and a total win-win. First, it gives catch-and-release anglers a chance to be recognized for outstanding catches. I’m a big believer in keeping medium-sized fish for the frying pan and releasing real whoppers. It still will be tempting to break a decades-old weight record, but this new list gives anglers a chance to put their names in the record book and watch a prized catch swim off to live another day.
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The new list should make for exciting fishing in 2016. As of this writing, the catch-and-release records page is empty, which means you could run down to the Boise River, catch a 12-inch rainbow trout, fill out the paperwork and have an Idaho record all to yourself. It might be short-lived if you submit a smaller fish, but it still counts. And how many times do you get the chance to hold a record? Pretty cool if you ask me.
Before you grab your gear and race off to rewrite the record books, here are some details:
▪ Fish must be released alive.
▪ Fish are measured by total length, from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail.
▪ Record fish must be at least a half-inch longer than the existing record, except for sturgeon, which must at least 2 inches longer.
▪ Anglers must submit two photos to claim the record: One of the angler with the fish and another of the fish directly next to a ruler or tape measure.
▪ Salmon, steelhead and sturgeon must be measured and photographed in the water.
▪ Entries must include at least one witness to the measurement and release.
▪ All applications must be submitted within 30 days of the catch.
Online application forms, complete submission guidelines and more information are available at idfg.idaho.gov/fish/records.
Minor changes to the traditional record book and a handful of adjustments to the state fishing regulations took effect in 2016. Pick up a free copy of the new rulebook when you renew your fishing license.
As if we didn’t have enough reasons to be excited for a new year of fishing, the prospect of setting a state record adds a lot of intrigue. I’ll probably pass on rushing out to nab a ceremonial record, but if I catch a lunker that’s too beautiful to keep or not quite big enough to break the weight record, you can bet your lucky lures I’ll be throwing my hat into the catch-and-release record ring.
Happy record chasing, and tight lines!
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.