A massive tiger trout pulled from Loon Lake in Stevens County on June 26 has set a new state record, state fishery managers have confirmed.
The 24.49-pound tiger trout broke the previous record by 6 pounds, according to Bruce Baker, an inland fish biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Angler Caylun Peterson caught the monster tiger trout while fishing in the early-morning hours to escape the triple-digit heat forecast for the day.
Peterson said he’s been fishing Loon Lake — located about 30 miles north of Spokane — ever since he was a kid.
WDFW stocks a variety of fish in Loon Lake, including about 85,000 kokanee in late spring, several hundred jumbo rainbow trout in March and April and 10,000 tiger trout in the fall.
Tiger trout are a sterile hybrid fish produced by cross-breeding a brown trout with a brook trout. They are produced almost exclusively in hatcheries and average about five pounds.
Spin-fishing and using a whole nightcrawler as bait, Peterson said he was targeting tiger trout that day, which he frequently does when fishing Loon Lake.
“They fight really good, they eat excellent, they’re just a blast to catch,” Peterson said of tiger trout, adding that they frequently grow quite large in the lake.
But he knew he had something special as soon as the record fish was on his line.
“I hooked into that thing and he pulled drag for quite a while before it stopped,” he said.
As he reeled in the fish, he could tell it was a big one. But even once he’d landed it, he wasn’t entirely sure he would keep it until he found it was unable to swim away on its own.
“Honestly, I was ecstatic, but tried to let it go because I was thinking in my head that if this thing is this big now, in a year it might be a record,” Peterson laughed. “Well, it turned out it was a record anyway.”
Fortunately, Peterson’s mother and a neighbor quickly informed him that the state record for tiger trout was 18 pounds.
“I said, ‘You gotta be kidding me, I know this thing is over 18 pounds,’” he said.
He was right; a measurement confirmed the fish was a new state record, and the official 24.49-pound weight was certified at WDFW’s Spokane office that Monday, June 28.
The previous record for tiger trout was an 18.49-pound fish caught by angler Kelly Flaherty from Bonaparte Lake in Okanogan County on May 6, 2015.
Peterson is having his record fish taxidermied, but just because he’s hit a new high in his angling career, he’s nowhere near done fishing — in fact, he’s already been back to Loon Lake in search of the next record.