I actually knew about this the day after the fish was caught, but I was heading out of town the next day, and was waiting to hear how the anglers involved wanted to handle it. I knew by the time I got back to the office this would be all over the internet and many have already heard about it. But others of you have not, and I want to blog about it!
Last week we had what was potentially another hook & line state record fish caught and RELEASED in Nebraska! This time it was a huge northern pike.
Better yet, watch the video!
HOLY COW! What a fish!
Here are some more details.
Pause for a moment and just take that all in. . . .
That stands for itself, but you know I am blogging and have to offer some comments.
You see the estimated weight. There are several formulae that can be used to estimate the weight of a fish from its length and perhaps girth. Those formulae are developed from the weighing and measuring of fish and produce estimates of a fish’s weight. Using several different formulae the estimated weight of a pike with that length and girth measurement ranges anywhere from 26 to over 40 pounds depending on which forumula you chose.
Using the standard weight formula that pointy-headed fisheries biologist use, one developed through statistical procedures and the weighing and measuring of thousands of fish, I can tell you that a 45-inch northern pike would weigh, on average, 23 pounds 11 ounces. However, the weight of fish of a given length can vary, and a 45-inch pike in mid-winter is likely to be “fat”, weigh more than average for a given length. It is possible, believable, that 45-inch pike was close to our existing hook & line state record of 30 pounds 1 ounce.
Our existing hook & line state record pike, a 30 pound 1 ounce fish, was 47 inches long. Unfortunately I do not have a girth measurement for that fish, but I can tell you that it was caught in the fall, another time period when pike tend to “fatten up”.
Was Jake’s fish big enough to be a new state record? No one can say for sure without weighing it on quality, accurate scales. That was not done in this case because the angler who caught the fish wanted to release it ASAP, in the best condition possible. I am absolutely supportive of that decision; I would have done the same thing! I will say this, it is possible that fish exceeded 30 pounds, and if the angler who caught it wants to claim an unofficial catch & release state record, I am all for it and in fact am going to tell everyone about it! I WILL bet that was certainly the largest pike that has ever been caught and RELEASED from Nebraska waters!
I have already heard some grumbling about the secrecy of where the fish was caught. Jake chose to release that fish and also has chosen to protect the fish by not telling everyone where it was caught. Again, I totally understand and respect that decision, and will again tell you that I would do the same thing! The fish was caught from public water in Nebraska and that is all I am going to say about it. If the location of the catch was publicized, there would be a minimum of 200 anglers on the ice there this coming weekend. That pike was released so it can be “recycled”, caught again, but there is no guarantee the next person would do the same thing. You might believe that is being coy, selfish, even stuck up and arrogant. . . or is it being respectful of the resource and the fish?
Let me also add that I know Jake’s dad, Dusty, and these guys are good anglers, good “sticks”. They did their homework, they knew what they were doing, they honed their skills, they have spent a lot of time on the water. Should they be expected to give that all away to everyone else? Or, can others arrive at the same place by putting in their own time and hard work?
Earlier this winter I told you about a big crappie that was pulled through an ice hole and that fish also may have been big enough to be a new hook & line state record, Big Fish! The angler who caught that big crappie, Andy Moore, is also a good stick. We all know that every time any one puts a hook in the water, there is no telling what might be caught. Sometimes a beginner will catch a record fish, a trophy fish, their first time fishing. However, I think it is great that Andy and Jake once again have demonstrated that a person can learn how to catch fish, can learn how to catch big fish. There are no guarantees when it comes to fishing, but one can learn how to put the odds in your favor and the rewards can be HUGE!
I preach often about catch & release and especially selective harvest–keep the species and sizes of fish that can withstand the harvest for a meal of fresh fish now and then, do not fill the freezer with fish fillets, release the big ones, including big panfish, and especially big predator fish. It is easy to “talk the talk”; this winter I am thrilled for guys like Andy and Jake who have demonstrated, in spades, how to “walk the walk”.
CONGRATULATIONS Jake! WHAT A FISH! Thank you for releasing that beast, and thank you for being such an example for the rest of us!!!