An Idaho man turned heads earlier this month when he caught an 11-plus pound coho salmon in the Clearwater River near Lewiston. Matt Hosking had the salmon weighed on a certified scale at a local grocery back in mid-October, and on Tuesday, October 24, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) declared it a new state record for the species.
“All of my years fishing, I get to finally get my name in the state record books,” Hosking wrote in an October 13 Facebook post about the record-setting catch. “Caught a coho salmon today weighing 11.775lbs and 32 3/4” long.”
Hosking caught the record coho while targeting Clearwater steelhead, he tells Field & Stream. “We were pulling Mag Lips through a big hole near the paper mill,” he recalls. “When the rod buried, I thought I had a steelhead on the line, but the fish never jumped like steelhead normally do.”
After he boated the salmon, Hosking measured it and started browsing through state records on his phone. “I looked at my buddy and said, ‘We gotta go,'” he says. “I’m thinking: I gotta get this thing measured. This is really close to the state record.”
The fish had been on ice for about two hours by the time Hosking arrived at the IDFG office in Lewiston. Once measured and weighed, it edged out the previous state record by less than a half ounce.
According to an IDFG press release, Hosking’s catch came during the third consecutive year of solid coho runs in Idaho, with over 15,000 adults passing over Lower Granite Dam. “There are bigger Coho out there, but not many,” said Clearwater Region Fishery Manager Joe DuPont. “Based on the 2,400 Coho we have trapped at Lower Granite Dam this year, only 2 would surpass the size of this fish.”
The Lower Granite Dam is one of several dams on the Lower Snake River that wild salmon from the Pacific Ocean must negotiate in order to reach natal spawning grounds in Idaho’s Clearwater River basin. Those dams have been a topic of controversy in recent years as fisheries conservationists, supported by Trout Unlimited and other groups, vie to get them removed. Supporters of dam removal say that a free-flowing Lower Snake is the key to recovering Idaho’s federally endangered salmon and steelhead populations.
“When we’re out pulling Mag Lips for steelhead, we probably hook two to three coho a season,” Hosking says. “I know a lot of guides around here that catch more than that. We also target them exclusively with spinners earlier in the fall. By the time they get to the hole where I caught his one, they’ve probably traveled about 465 miles from the ocean.”