Record kokanee caught in Wallowa Lake
The kokanee Teece caught weighed 8.23 pounds, was 26.25 inches in length with a girth of 16 inches.
“From what we currently know, this kokanee is the largest ever caught in the United States,” said Bill Knox, assistant district fish biologist with the ODFW in Enterprise. “Only the current world record kokanee from Lake Okanogan in British Columbia is bigger.” (That fish weighed 9 pounds 6 ounces.)The record kokanee was caught by Teece while she was out fishing with her husband, Jack. They were trolling near the middle of the lake with a Jack Lloyd blade set-up dragging a Double-Whammy lure with two ounces of lead to keep it down deep.
“Wan likes the lake a lot,’’ Jack said. “Even in bad weather we still enjoy being up there. On the 24th there were a dozen boats, a lot for the middle of the week. No one was catching anything. In five hours we caught three, total.”
When Wan brought in the record-breaking fish, the Teeces knew they needed to have it weighed. They took it to Mt. Joseph Family Foods in Joseph to weigh it on a certified scale, per the state of Oregon paperwork instructions, Jack said.
The Teeces are having their record-breaking kokanee mounted by Rick Arnold in Bend.
A month earlier, on Feb. 26, Gene Thiel caught a 7-pound 8-ounce, 25-inch kokanee that broke the previous state record. The 73-year-old Joseph resident caught the fish while jigging from a canoe in 100 feet of water when conditions were icy.
The previous kokanee record was set only in July 2009, for a 7-pound 1-ounce fish caught by former Joseph resident Jerry Logosz, also while trolling in Wallowa Lake.
Wan Teece’s fish is the sixth time since 1999 that Wallowa Lake has broken the state record for kokanee.
While many factors influence the large size of Wallowa Lake’s trophy kokanee, Knox said introduction of freshwater shrimp Mysis relicta into the lake in the mid-1960s is probably the main reason. The large kokanee are feeding on these shrimp, which were introduced in many Northwest lakes to produce trophy kokanee after the example of Kootenay Lake in British Columbia. Unfortunately, the introduction of shrimp had unintended consequences in some lakes, wiping out some kokanee populations.
It is not clear how long trophy kokanee will continue to be caught in Wallowa Lake, but Knox said he expects even more interest in this popular fishery in coming months. ODFW estimates that anglers spend between 20,000 and 30,000 hours fishing for kokanee on Wallowa Lake annually.