A British Columbia man caught a large rainbow trout. At least, that's what he assumed it was-and ate it before realizing that it was a world record kokanee.
Dennis Woodcox caught a large fish that he initially thought might be a rainbow trout, took it home and threw it in his freezer. Some months later, he took the fish out to smoke it and, after eating it, he got curious, did a little research, and learned that he had consumed a world record kokanee salmon.
It's a great story, one that we've probably all heard before: Angler catches record fish only to clean and fillet it before realizing his blunder.
Woodcox and his son were camping and fishing on British Columbia's Lower Arrow Lake when they noticed something on the surface of the water. Moving closer to investigate they discovered that it was a large fish, around twelve pounds.
Thinking that the fish, which he thought was a hefty rainbow trout, was just recently hooked and lost by another angler, Woodcox decided to check it for a still-attached lure.
He leaned over his high-sided boat to pick up the fish by the tail, but as soon as he grabbed it it began to fight vigorously. Woodcox tightened his grip and tried to get his other arm under the fish before he was finally able to get the lively "trout" into the boat.
"Finally I got it up high enough that I could throw it over my shoulder into the boat and we knocked it on the head. We were laughing the whole time, it was so funny," he said.
He put the mystery fish on ice until he got home, where he placed it in his freezer. A couple months later he decided to smoke the fish, but once he brined one fillet he noticed an oil slick coming off the meat. This put doubts in Woodcox's mind about the identity of the fish.
"I put it on the brine and there was an oil slick on it," he recalled. "So when I went to smoke it it was very oily as well, so I said...I don't believe...I think this is a kokanee!
I gave a couple pieces to my neighbors and the chunks were so big that I'm sure they didn't believe me. And it got nagging on me that this was a kokanee..."
So Woodcox took the remainder of the fish carcass - the skeleton and other, intact side of the fish - to local marine biologists for verification. They initially said that they too thought it was a kokanee, but then more provincial government biologists got involved and ultimately it took well over a year to verify the fish's species with certainty.
"It took a year-and-a-half for the samples to come back for 100 percent proof that it was a kokanee," said Woodcox, "and it somehow missed its cycle and lived to be seven years old."
Kokanee are essentially landlocked sockeye salmon. The unusual fish, also called "silver trout", never leave fresh water to migrate to the ocean before returning to spawn in fresh water. They live their entire lives in freshwater lakes.
But Woodcox is not disappointed that he ate the fish and that it won't count as a record. In fact, he relishes telling the tale of the world record kokanee that he caught with his bare hands.
"It's a story, right? That's the funny part about it, is the story," he declares. "Even if it wasn't a world record kokanee it would still be a funny story. Being a world record is just more hilarious, because of eating it as well."
Listen to Woodcox recount his tale of catching and eating a world record fish here:
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.