On Oct. 13 Idaho fisherman Matt Hosking pulled a hefty coho salmon from the Clearwater River, which joins the Snake River near Hosking’s hometown of Lewiston. The coho has since been accepted as a new state record, according to a recent press release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Hosking’s coho weighed 11.78 pounds, which breaks the previous state record by a narrow margin of less than half an ounce (or .48 ounces to be exact).
Hosking knew he had a potential record on his hands as soon as he landed the nearly 33-inch coho. So, he kept the salmon and brought it to a local grocery store, where it was weighed on a certified scale.
Harvesting the fish made it eligible for a “certified weight” record, as opposed to a catch-and-release record, which would have been judged entirely by length. But a quick look at Idaho’s fishing records shows that Hosking’s fish would have broken either record. The current catch-and-release record for coho is 30 inches; Hosking’s salmon measured 32.7 inches long.
The agency points out that 2023 has been a good year for coho salmon returns in Idaho. These anadromous fish were declared extinct in the state in 1985, primarily because of a large dam that was built near Lewiston and cut off access to their spawning grounds. In 1994, the Nez Perce Tribe began restoring the fishery with the aid of hatcheries. Coho runs have rebounded somewhat since then, and 2023 marks the third year in a row that more than 15,000 adult coho have returned to the Snake River Basin from the Pacific Ocean.
A small fraction of those fish are pushing 11 pounds, however. IDFG’s Clearwater Region Fishery Manager Joe DuPont says coho salmon of this size are rare.
“There are bigger coho out there, but not many,” DuPont explained in the press release. “Based on the 2,400 coho we have trapped at Lower Granite Dam this year, only two would surpass the size of this fish.”