An angler fishing off a charter boat landed a rare, colorful opah and it may just break the Washington state record.
Jim Watson of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was fishing with All Rivers and Saltwater Charters, a company that operates out of Westport, Washington when he got a big hit on the live anchovy he was using.
After fighting with it for 15 minutes, the large round-bodied fish with blood-orange fins showed itself to be an opah- rare for these waters and usually found in more tropical regions.
The charter was out for tuna, but wasn’t having much luck until the opah struck.
Mark Coleman the charter captain said; “We fished straight offshore about 45 miles, and it was fairly slow for tuna most likely due to the full moon that night. We rarely see these fish and hear about one caught every five years or so.”
The fish weighed in officially at 35 pounds, 11 ounces, and was immediately taken to Olympia, Washington for verification by state Fish and Wildlife officials as a state record.
If verified it would break the current state record of 28.18 pounds owned by Rick Shapland of Molalla, Oregon.
In a great twist to the story Joel Torrison, who was the deckhand who landed Shapland’s record fish two years ago on a different boat, was the deckhand on Coleman’s charter and is credited with landing Watson’s fish.
Coleman said; “It was weird, and felt like the twilight zone that the last one caught on the Ranger was also landed again by Joel. Talk about getting struck by lightning twice.”
The opah is well known as a delicacy and is prized for its good eating.
Pictures via Seattle Times