Washington angler smashes state tiger trout record by 3.5 pounds with second largest tiger trout in the world.
“I was stunned to see how big this trout really was. It looked as big as a salmon!”
That’s what angler Kelly Flaherty said about his new Washington state record tiger trout. Flaherty’s fish weighed 18.49 pounds. It smashed the previous Washington tiger trout record of 15.04 pounds set in 2012 by 3.5 pounds.
It also moves into second place as the biggest tiger trout ever, behind the 20.13 pound world record fish pulled from Lake Michigan in 1978.
Tiger trout are a hybrid of brown and brook trout, and are, to many anglers, the most beautiful trout, with their colorful vermiculations, or “worm-like” patterning.
They are also voracious fish eaters and are sterile, which makes them a popular stocking fish to help control undesirable fish populations.
Flaherty was shore fishing at the Bonaparte Lake Resort in Tonasket, Washington. He was using what he calls “bacon and eggs” – a nightcrawler and Pautzke-cured eggs – rigged on eight-pound test and cast from a six-foot Ugly Stick.
He cast and then began looking for something upon which to lean his rod, when he saw the big tiger swimming and pulling slack line just 10 feet from shore.
Flaherty set the hook and fought the thrashing fish for 15 minutes before landing it without a net. Worried that he might lose the fish for lack of a net he attempted to beach and “lip” the fish like a bass.
“I’ve caught enough bass to know about ‘bassers thumb’ but this thing tore me up,” he said. “I wasn’t sure I could hang on to it so I put my thumb in its’ mouth and the fish started thrashing. It wasn’t until I sat down that I realized my whole hand was bloody.”
Flaherty and crew took the fish to a Tonasket butcher shop to have the fish officially weighed on a certified scale with witnesses present. They contacted and registered the fish with Washington Fish and Wildlife, who also took biological samples to confirm and age the big trout.
Flaherty’s fish was 32.5 inches long with a belly-bulging 21.75-inch girth.
He concluded, “It’s a once in a life time experience for me.”