Itís official, kokanee is world record

By Dick Mason, The Observer October 25, 2010 01:51 pm
Submitted photo Ron Campbell of Pendleton holds the 9-pound 10-ounce kokanee that he caught at Wallowa Lake June 13.
Submitted photo Ron Campbell of Pendleton holds the 9-pound 10-ounce kokanee that he caught at Wallowa Lake June 13.
Four months after landing a monster kokanee, Ron Campbell has landed in the world record book — twice.

The Pendleton angler, who took a 9-pound 10-ounce kokanee salmon at Wallowa Lake June 13, learned last week that his fish is now officially recognized by the International Game Fish Association as a world record fish in two categories.

“Learning that was quite a rush,’’ Campbell said.

Still, he cannot help but wonder.

Wonder about an even bigger fish that got away. Less than a week before landing his world-record salmon Campbell lost a kokanee at Wallowa Lake after a stiff battle.

“On the second jump he broke my 10-pound test line. I got to see him twice and he was a monster,” Campbell said.

The angler believes the fish weighed 12 pounds. He can’t wait until next spring to begin pursuing it, assuming it survives the winter.

Whether or not a second world record salmon awaits the fisherman is uncertain. Still Campbell, who grew up in La Grande, already has a whopper of an angling legacy. The kokanee he landed June 13 bettered the following IGFA world records for:

• the heaviest kokanee ever caught in the all-tackle category. Campbell’s 9-pound 10-ounce kokanee  broke the old world mark of 9 pounds 6 ounces. The previous record fish was pulled from Okanagan Lake in British Columbia on June 18, 1988, by a man named Norm Kuhn, said Jack Vitek, the records coordinator for the IGFA.

• the heaviest kokanee ever taken with a 12-pound test line. The old record was set May 31, 1986, by an angler named Adolph Aragon who landed a 5-pound 11-ounce kokanee at Spinney Mountain Reservoir in Colorado.

“He (Campbell) blew that record out of the water,’’ Vitek said.

The attention Campbell has received since the IGFA announced that his fish is an official world mark has blown him out of the  water.

“I have been on the phone constantly since then,’’ Campbell said.

Those who have contacted him include representatives of a major outdoor magazine, who are seriously considering putting Campbell on the cover of an issue next spring.

The attention Campbell received after June 13 but prior to last week also was intense. Angler West, an outdoor television program, filmed a program about kokanee fishing at Wallowa Lake. The program features Campbell. The syndicated program is expected to be  shown nationally in November. The timing is good not only due to Campbell’s new record, but also because the state kokanee record has been broken by a fish taken from Wallowa Lake five times since July 2009.

The producers of two other outdoor television programs are also talking to Campbell about appearing on their programs.

The Pendleton angler’s visibility has been enhanced since landing his record fish and so has his collection of fishing tackle. The Shasta Tackle Co. awarded Campbell a lifetime worth of fishing gear after he took the kokanee because he used a lure and a flasher from the company to take the fish. Campbell, a 1966 La Grande High School graduate, will be able to order anything from the company’s catalog for free for the rest of his life.

Campbell took his kokanee with a net that was too small for the fish. Another fishing tackle company, after learning this, sent the Pendleton angler a new, larger net.

Campbell said he needs the best tackle possible when fishing for kokanee because they pose such a challenge. Kokanee pull so fast they can strip anglers of all the line from their reel, Campbell said.

“Some people describe them as silver salmon on drugs.’’