Ed O'Hara poses for a quick photo before releasing this 31-inch bull trout to claim the latest catch/release fishing record for Idaho's native char.
Congratulations to Ed O'Hara of Hayden on landing the latest catch/release state record bull trout. O'hara landed the 31-inch native char while fishing Lake Pend Oreille over the weekend on Aug. 29. After a quick measurement and photograph, the record fish was released to claim a new catch/release state record for the species.
Lake Pend Oreille, long known for producing trophy trout, has produced many record fish, including the "certified weight" record bull trout of 32 pounds, caught in 1949. While harvesting bull trout is not allowed in Idaho, they are still eligible for catch/release records and are an exciting sport fish for many anglers. Bull trout are found in lakes and reservoirs, but most anglers catch them in rivers and streams. You can learn more about their distribution and fishing for them in this article, "Casting for the bulls."
Similar to salmon, bull trout are also a highly migratory species, often making long migrations between lakes and rivers to complete their life cycle. Check out the story of this Bull Trout that swam over 200 miles! Adult bull trout migrate high into mountain streams to lay their eggs, returning to spend the winter in large lakes or rivers where they feed on other fish.
Bull Trout populations in Lake Pend Oreille have benefited from efforts to reduce the number of nonnative Lake Trout. For 15 years, Idaho Fish and Game has been actively working to reduce the numbers of Lake Trout to help bring back the trophy Rainbow Trout and popular kokanee fisheries. With fewer Lake Trout around, kokanee numbers have rebounded. The resulting boost in kokanee numbers has fueled much better growth for both Rainbow and Bull trout, and anglers are starting to see more trophy fish of both species.
See the State Record Fish site for a list of Idaho's record fish and how to apply.