Per the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, on March 21, 2023, Hayden Lake produced a new certified Idaho state record northern pike. The record fish weighed a whopping 40.76 pounds, was 49 inches in length and 26.5 inches in girth—a true monster of a fish!
The record was previously held by a fish that was also caught in North Idaho, in Lower Twin Lake. The fish, caught in 2010, weighed 40.13 pounds, was 50.75 inches long and 22.75 inches in girth.
The story behind the Idaho state record northern pike
Thomas Francis is an avid northern pike angler and has been for some time.
“Pike is what I go after all the time,“ Francis said. “I spend almost everyday fishing for pike. As soon as the ice is off and until it comes back.”
Despite being an avid pike fisherman, nothing could have prepared him for the fish that would later latch on to the end of his line and lay claim to the Idaho state record.
Francis‘ day of fishing on Hayden Lake started like any other – same gear, same approach and same goal, to catch big pike.
When he got to the lake that day, there was still some ice on the lake, so he couldn’t cast right up to the shore, only to the edge of the ice.
“When my lure hit the water, I let it sink all the way to the bottom. As soon as my lure hit the bottom, I felt her hit. I fish with 80 pound-test line, and she almost immediately started peeling drag, a lot of it,“ said Francis.
Francis knew immediately this was a big fish.
“She pinned herself to the bottom and just kept going, peeling drag the whole time. I knew that wasn’t normal, and I could tell it was something special.“
After peeling drag for a while, the behemoth changed her tactics.
“Suddenly I got slack line, as she was coming straight up from the bottom. She came flying out of the water, and it was obvious she was a huge fish,“ recalled Francis.
When he finally landed her, Francis said he knew she was going to be a state record fish, or at least a close contender.
“I immediately headed for the dock to try and find a boat with a scale and tape measure. We found a boat with a scale, and the fish pegged the scale out at 30 pounds, so we knew we needed to find a bigger scale.“
After visiting a few different places to find a certified scale, they finally received a certified weight of 40.76 pounds, a new state record.
When asked what he thinks about pike fishing in North Idaho, Francis said, “I like having pike around; they are the biggest fish we can go after here in North Idaho, and I fish for them almost everyday.“
For more information on record fish and the great fishing in the state of Idaho, be sure to visit the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Website