( Garibaldi, Oregon )
On September 16, Western Angler Senior Editor, Ron Boggs nearly doubled the existing world record with a 47 pound walleye! The size and circumstances of the catch ranks it among the most unusual in modern angling history. Normally, world fishing records are broken by onces or maybe a couple of pounds. Never before has a fish eclipsed an old record by nearly double. But due to a technicality, the old walleye record of 25 pounds will stand.
Because walleye are freshwater fish, walleye records are only registered for freshwater catches. Boggs' unbelievable lunker was caught in saltwater, thus ruling it invalid for consideration in the freshwater walleye books.
"I went to the coast to catch surf perch and just enjoy the sunny weather with my wife Pam. We were out on the bay dunking sandworms on light tackle when the fish hit. We know immediately it was something big...probably a lingcod or sturgeon -- or so we thought."
"It took almost half an hour to get the fish close enough to see it," he recalls. "I did a double-take when I first saw it. Even after Pam netted it I couldn't believe it was a walleye. It was so humongous I had to help her get the overloaded net into the boat. I was shaking so hard I couldn't drive the boat. Pam drove us in to the scale at Greg's Marina, and I about passed out when the needle registered 47 pounds."
"I've dreamed of catching a state record walleye for 10 years. Who would've thought I'd ever see a world record sized fish. Too bad it doesn't count [ in the record books ]."
Many species of fish adapt to both fresh and salt water, but walleye have never been observed to survive in the saltcheck. A marine biologist at the scene speculated that the leviathan fish originated in the Columbia River which empties into the Pacific 50 miles to the North. "It probably caught a fresh water current from the river," the biologist reasoned. "Once the fresh water dissipated, the fish was stuck in the saltwater. It had to either adapt or die. I can't explain why." he shrugged, "but somehow this fish managed to adapt. The Pacific coast is an abundant foraging area, so this walleye probably grew at an accelerated pace."
When asked if other saltwater walleyes were possibly swimming in Oregon or Washington coastal waters, our source hypothesized, "If this one could survive, then others probably have too. The mouth of the Columbia River is the only place in the world where walleyes have access to the Pacific Ocean. They've only been in the lower river for about 25 years. Who know what's happened in that time? Nobody has ever studied the possibility of walleyes trickling into the Pacific."
Boggs doesn't care how the fish managed to exist, but says he's planning future coastal walleye fishing trips. "I hope this wasn't just a fluke. Maybe the record keepers will have to establish a new category for saltwater walleye? If that's the case," he smiles, "then I've got a headstart on other record seekers."