‘We needed to find a bigger scale’: Idaho angler reels in monster pike weighing over 40 pounds for state record
The second his lure hit the bottom of Hayden Lake, Thomas Francis felt his line peel with a ferocity he knew “wasn’t normal.”
The avid angler from North Idaho would garner a new state record for his catch that day, March 21, reeling in a behemoth northern pike that weighed 40.76 pounds, measuring 49 inches long with a girth of 26.5 inches—it was an absolute monster!
Francis is huge on pike fishing in North Idaho and has been for a while. “Pike is what I go after all the time,” he told Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG). “I spend almost everyday fishing for pike. As soon as the ice is off and until it comes back.”
Out with his boat, there was still ice on Hayden Lake that day in March, so he couldn’t drop his lure right beside the shore, but only where the ice ends.
He used the same gear, employed the same technique, and aimed for the same species as usual—pike—but the lake yielded “something special” that day.
Francis was completely unprepared for what he would catch.
“When my lure hit the water, I let it sink all the way to the bottom,” he said. “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.
“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.”
He knew he’d hooked a fish of rare proportions. After peeling line for some time, it suddenly changed tactics.
“Suddenly I got slack line, as she was coming straight up from the bottom,” Francis said. “She came flying out of the water, and it was obvious she was a huge fish.”
After successfully reeling in the pike, Francis fathomed that it was either a new state record or something very close to one.
“I immediately headed for the dock to try and find a boat with a scale and tape measure,” he said. “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.”
Seeking a certified scale from a few different places, he eventually found one and confirmed the fact: weighing a colossal 40.76 pounds, the northern pike was indeed a new Idaho state record.
IDFG published a photo of Francis holding up his record-breaking fish with both hands, its length stretching past the width of the man’s shoulders.
Asked how he finds fishing for pike 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 every day.”
The state’s previous northern pike record weighed 40.13 pounds, measuring 50.75 inches in length with a girth of 22.75 inches, and was caught in 2010 in Lower Twin Lakes.
Northern pike are found across North America and inhabit lakes throughout Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, the Great Lakes region, Vermont, and West Virginia, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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