On March 21, 2023, Hayden Lake in North Idaho produced a new certified state record northern pike. The record fish weighed a whopping 40.76 pounds, was 49 inches in length, and 26.5 inches in girth – a true monster of a fish!
The record was previously held by a fish that was also caught in North Idaho, in Lower Twin Lake. The fish, caught in 2010, weighed 40.13 pounds, was 50.75 inches long, and 22.75 inches in girth.
Thomas Francis is an avid northern pike angler and has been for some time.
“Pike is what I go after all the time. I spend almost every day fishing for pike. As soon as the ice is off and until it comes back,“ Francis said. Despite being an avid pike fisherman, nothing could have prepared him for the fish that would later latch on to the end of his line and lay claim to the Idaho state record.
Francis‘ day of fishing on Hayden Lake started like any other – same gear, same approach, and same goal: to catch big pike. When he got to the lake that day, there was still some ice on the lake, so he couldn’t cast right up to the shore, only to the edge of the ice.
“When my lure hit the water, I let it sink all the way to the bottom. As soon as my lure hit the bottom, I felt her hit. I fish with 80 pound-test line, and she almost immediately started peeling drag, a lot of it,“ said Francis.
Francis said he almost immediately knew this was a big fish. “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.“
After peeling drag for a while, the behemoth changed her tactics. “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,“ recalled Francis.
When he finally landed her, Francis said he knew she was going to be a state record fish, or at least a close contender.
“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.“
After visiting a few different places to find a certified scale, they finally received a certified weight of 40.76 pounds, a new state record.
When asked what he thinks about pike fishing in North Idaho, Francis said, “I like having pike around; they are the biggest fish we can go after here in North Idaho, and I fish for them almost everyday.“
From all of us at Idaho Fish and Game – congratulations, Thomas!
Maybe you’re next!
Who knows what size fish may tug on your line next; maybe it will be the next state record! If you catch a fish you believe may be a state record, here’s what you need to do to apply for the record spot.
- First you can visit our record page on our website for all the details you need.
- From there you’ll need to fill out an Idaho state record fish application.
- As part of the application, you’ll need to provide the method of catch, a weight from a certified scale along with a receipt documenting the weight, at least one photo of the fish and the signature of a witness.
- Lastly, you will need a signature from a Fish and Game staff person.
The best places to find certified scales are often post offices and grocery stores.
Did you know there are both certified weight records and catch-and-release records for all fish species? To learn more about submitting a fish for a catch-and-release record, check out this application form. Good luck fishing this spring and summer!
Please contact the Panhandle Regional office at (208) 769-1414 with any questions.
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