Topping Washington’s Current State Record Fish

I wrote a similar article two years ago, thinking that at least a couple of Washington’s ten most beatable state fish records would be broken.

None were, but these same fish records are still begging to be broken – so once again, here they are.

Ten fish species will be covered in this article and the lower the number, the most likely that fish record is of being replaced. On the reverse side of Washington’s record fish is the brown bullhead record of 11.04 pounds, a record that will never be broken, since it almost certainly is a result of species mis-identification since the world record for the species is a Mississippi bullhead that weighed six pounds two ounces.

10 – Although Washington’s state record largemouth of slightly more than 11 pounds nine ounces is rather impressive, its about a half pound lighter than Oregon’s state record. Since Oregon is south of Washington, a lighter Washington largemouth record is understandable and perhaps meaningless, but the numbers of bass weighing more than ten pounds taken from Washington waters in recent years certainly isn’t. Additionally, some humungous largemouths have been netted over the years by fisheries personnnel. At some point, a pre-spawn lunker is going to topple the existing state record.

9 – Washington’s smallmouth record of eight pounds 12 ounces is generally considered to be the world record for smallmouth bass taken on a fly – making it a most impressive state record, but one destined to fall since a number of eight pound plus smallmouths have been taken in recent years from sections of the Columbia and Snake rivers as well as an eight pound ten ounce fish from Palmer Lake.

8 – Washington’s record yellow bullhead of 1.63 pounds is only one-third of the weigh of the national record from Georgia. Yellow bullheads, as far as bullheads go, average good size, but don’t seem to have as large a maximum size as do brown and black bullheads, both of which seem to average smaller than the yellow bullheads. The biggest problem with replacing this record is actually identifying a record yellow bullhead instead of assuming it is the more common brown bullhead.

7 – The state record black bullhead of one pound 12 ounces is rather anemic when compared with the national record fish from Michigan which weighed eight pounds 15 ounces. Black bullheads tend to average small, but vary greatly in size. Properly identifying a sizable black bullhead would be difficult since most of the state’s bulheads are brown bullheads.

6 – Washington’s record chinook salmon of 70 pounds eight ounces is a very impressive salmon, but it pales next to Oregon’s record chinook of 83 pounds, California’s record chinook of 88 pounds or British Columbia’s record chinook of 92 pounds. Since chinook salmon feed up and down the Pacific Coast, at some point these jumbo chinooks should be available to be caught in any state. This record will be broken, but barbless hook requirements in the ocean make it very difficult to land a sizable chinook in saltwater.

5 – While a white crappie weighing 2.80 pounds is an impressive fish, Washington’s state record white crappie pales when compared to Oregon’s record of four pounds 12 ounces or Idaho’s record of slightly more than three and a half pounds. There are definitely state record size white crappie swimming around Washington, but they need to be officially weighed and recognized rather than going straight to the stove and table top.

4 – Washington’s state record flathead catfish of 22.80 pounds is less than 19 percent of the weight of the national record flathead, a 123 pound fish from Kansas. Of more relevance, it is barely more than a third the weight of the 58 pound eight ounce flathead pulled from Brownlee Reservoir. Since Brownlee is on the Snake River, very close to Washington, and the lower reaches of the river are in southeast Washington – there is no reason why Washington shouldn’t be producing a new state record flathead in the near future.

3 – Washington’s record american shad weighed only 3.83 pounds – A very nice shad, but one that pales when compared to the world record of 11 pounds four ounces from Massachussetts. Closer to home, Washington’s record shad compares rather poorly with the Oregon record of six pounds six ounces ( 60%) or California’s record of seven pounds five ounces (52%). Since Oregon’s state record came from the Willamette River, a major tributary of the Columbia River which is shared with Washington – it is inexplicable that the disparity between the two state records is so large.

2 – The state record for blue catfish is only 17 pounds 12 ounces or less than 13 percent of the last couple of national records from the southeastern United States. In fact, this state record is so pathetic for its species that one cannot help thinking that Washington’s blue catfish are really off-colored channel catfish. If they are, indeed, blue cats, this record needs to be replaced pronto.

1 – The warmouth state record is only .53 pounds and came from southwest Washington’s Silver Lake which has produced a number of warmouths weighing around a pound, but have not been turned in for official recognition. Oregon’s state record warmouth of one pound 14.2 ounces was caught from a backwater on the Columbia River – which is, of course, shared by Washington. This state record is woefully smaller than it should be and will be replaced.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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