Northern pike tend towards beefiness, but the specimen Thomas Francis pulled from Hayden Lake in North Idaho is a chonky beast even by its species’ standards.
The 40.76-pound, 49-inch-long pike edged out the previous Idaho record-holder, a 40.13-pounder caught in 2010. The fish was so big that it was a struggle to find a certified scale with the chops to provide an accurate weight.
“I immediately headed for the dock to try and find a boat with a scale and tape measure. We found a boat with a scale, and the fish pegged the scale out at 30 pounds, so we knew we needed to find a bigger scale,” the angler told IDFG.
Francis, an experienced pike angler, knew as soon as the fish hit his lure that he “had something special.”
“She pinned herself to the bottom and just kept going, peeling drag the whole time. I knew that wasn’t normal, and I could tell it was something special,” he said. “Suddenly, I got slack line, as she was coming straight up from the bottom. She came flying out of the water, and it was obvious she was a huge fish.”
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) shows the current All-Tackle record for northern pike at 55 pounds, 1 ounce. So the Idaho specimen was still a ways away from global recognition when Francis pulled her from the water. But for the Idaho fisherman, it’s more about appreciating the species than it is about breaking world records.
“I like having pike around; they are the biggest fish we can go after here in north Idaho,” he said. “I fish for them almost every day.”
Whenever he gets a keeper, it’s a boon to local ecology, based on IDFG’s assessment that Northerns don’t belong in north Idaho. Instead, they were illegally introduced to the region in the 1970s, IDFG found. For that reason, the department periodically gill nets the predatory fish to help support native species like cutthroat trout.