Freak Show Rolls On: Near-9-pd Koke

Look up “serendipity” today and you might see a pic of Northwest Sportsman magazine next to the listing. With our May issue all about the kokanee of Northeast Oregon’s Wallowa Lake, the water promptly put out another state record for us.

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN'S MAY ISSUE FOCUSES ON WALLOWA LAKE AND ITS KOKANEE.

True, you’ll also probably find us next to the definition for “blind-ass luck,” but the latest beast is an 8-pound, 13-ouncer, caught Saturday by Bob Both of nearby Lostine.

BOB BOTH AND THE NEW STATE RECORD KOKANEE. (BOB BOTH)

“It was impressive,” says Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist Bill Knox who stopped by the Joseph Sports Corral to see it. “It was big and deep, and thick from side to side.”

He says the final paperwork is still to come in, but it will be the next state record.

Eagle-eyed Joel Shangle of Northwest Wild Country Radio alerted us after Both posted a bit about the kokanee and his setup on Ifish:

… It was an 8.85 pound fish that had a length of 26 inches and a girth of 17 1/4 inches. I caught the fish on a green and red wedding ring with a silver smile blade and shoepeg corn. I was also using a Luhr Jensen Bolo and was fishing 18-20 feet deep in 23 feet of water.

The fish put up a good fight, going airborne four times, according to Both’s tale. An on-the-water digital scale reading said 8.14 pounds, but he took the fish to town for an official score.

It’s the third new record of 2010 and 7th in a spectacular record-wrecking run that began in 1999.

“I don’t know if this will be the last one,” says Knox.

In fact, Both, who retired from the U.S. Forest Service’s Enterprise fire crew three years ago and hit the lake very hard last year, doesn’t expect it to last long.

“It’s a record for now,” he said when reached at home this afternoon.

Previous high marks included Wan Teece and her 8.23-pounder caught in March, Gene Thiel and his 7-pound, 8-ounce koke caught in February and Jerry Logosz and his 7-pound, 1-ouncer caught last July.

BOTH'S KOKE IS A HALF POUND HEAVIER THAN THE PREVIOUS RECORD, AN 8.23-POUNDER CAUGHT IN MARCH BY ANOTHER LOCAL ANGLER. (BOB BOTH)

Both says he has frozen the koke and will send it to a taxidermist in Minnesota to have it mounted.

Knox reports that Wallowa is still pretty cold — 42 degrees on top — and that we’re still on the early side of the good fishing period.

“The fishing’s actually quite slow,” says Knox, “but quite a bit of what they’re catching are big fish.”

Both, however, has got it dialed in with his Wedding Ring/Smile Blade/corn/Bolo Blade setup, limiting last Friday with five fish that weighed a total of 20.21 pounds and five more out of the lake today, the biggest of which was 22 inches.

Once you find fish, stay on them, Both tips.

So far this year, he says he’s caught 83 over 16 inches, but he doesn’t consider himself to be a trophy angler.

“I don’t go up there to catch a record,” Both says. “I go up there to catch them, and smoke and can them. I make a pretty mean kokanee dip.”

That said, his catch edges even closer to the standing world record, 9 pounds, 6 ounces from Lake Okanagan, in British Columbia.

Knox isn’t willing to comment on whether that mark will be broken, but there’s more than the usual crowd interested in Wallowa.

“When they’re catching fish that size that early in the year,” says Gary Miralles, a kokanee tackle maker we spoke to for our May issue, “the fish are going to gain weight in April, May, June, even July. There’s no doubt in my mind there’s one over 9 pounds. I wouldn’t doubt if a new world record came out of there … I think whoever has the biggest fish by July wins. I plan on spending some time up there myself in June and July.”

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One Response to “Freak Show Rolls On: Near-9-pd Koke”

  1. Possible World Record Koke Landed At Wallowa « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] Wan Teece bumped Thiel off with her 8.23-pounder caught in March, and that fish was aced out by Bob Both‘s 8-pound, 13-ouncer in […]

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