A silver salmon pushing 27 pounds took a wild journey this week from Icy Strait near Hoonah to Jerry's Meats in Juneau to the Alaska state record book.
A 26-pound, 11-ounce coho, caught in the Pacific Ocean by a California man earlier this week shattered one of the state's oldest sport-fishing records. According to KINY Radio in Juneau, Steve Atkinson of Huntington Beach was fishing near Icy Strait when he hooked the record-breaker.
The previous record was a 26-pound silver caught in 1976 by Andrew Robbins.
Bob Chadwick, a state fisheries biologist in Sitka, said the fish was flown to Jerry's Meats shortly after it was caught so it could be weighed on certified scales.
"It was caught north of here, and it sounds like they rushed it in once they saw it was close to a state record," he said Friday.
KINY reported that the fish weighed 27 pounds on a pair of hand scales at White Stone Harbor. Knowing that the state record was 26 pounds and that freshly caught fish can lose weight the longer they are out of water, a plane was chartered to get the fish to an official scale as soon as possible.
Chadwick said that for a fish to be considered for the record book, it must be weighed on a licensed, certified scale while a "trophy fish official" -- usually a state fisheries employee -- watches.
News of the super-sized silver began spreading Friday after KINY's report. Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said a printout of the report was getting attention at the Anchorage office.
"We've already had a number of people stop by and go, 'Wow,' kind of enviously," he said.
The fish was caught in the same general area that Robbins caught his record 35 years ago. But Chadwick said that doesn't necessarily mean all the big cohos are in southeast Alaska. In fact, in 2002, Carl Roehl of Anchorage came within ounces of the Robbins record with a 24-pound, 12-ounce silver caught outside of Whittier.
"There's big coho all over the state," Chadwick said.
There's trophy fish of all kinds waiting to be caught, he added.
"My son was just as proud of his 21-pound king he caught this Saturday," Chadwick said. "They're all trophies."
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By BETH BRAGG
Alaska Dispatch Publishing