Idaho has another new smallmouth bass state record. Angler Joey Walton caught a 23.75-inch smallmouth at Dworshak Reservoir in December. According to an Idaho Game and Fish (IDFG) press release, the fish has been certified as the new state catch-and-release record for The Gem State.
Walton pulled the fish from Dworshak Reservoir, which is a body of water known for its largemouth bass. Dworshak is located in northern Idaho. It is a man-made reservoir on the North Fork of the Clearwater River located behind the third highest dam in the United States. The state’s previous catch and release was also caught in Dworshak Reservoir – just seven months ago.
Local guide Travis Wendt caught and released a small 23.5-incher in May. In Idaho, weight is not considered for catch and release records. That said, Walton’s catch may have satisfied the state catch-and-hold record — a 9.72-pound fish measuring 23.75 inches that was caught in 2006 by Dan Steigers. That fish was also boated to Dworshak Reservoir.
Smallmouth bass seem to keep getting bigger and bigger at Dworshak Reservoir. IDGF biologists say this phenomenon is related to the body of water’s main food source for juveniles: kokanee salmon. When kokanee numbers are high, they are smaller in size – perfect for consumption by bass. In the last two years there have been smaller than usual kokanee in the lake.
“The prospect for trophy potential is extremely high,” Idaho Department of Fish and Fisheries biologist Eli Felts told the area’s town council in June, as reported by The Clearwater Tribune. “There is a good production of bass that has broken the growth barrier,” Felts said. “Once they get to 12-15 inches in length, they tend to grow much faster.”
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Smallmouth bass are found throughout much of Idaho, but the species is not native to the state. State stocking records show that smallmouth bass were first introduced into Dworshak Reservoir by the thousands in the 1970s. Those stocks developed shortly after Dworshak Dam was completed in 1972.