The Idaho state kokanee salmon catch and release record has been broken twice in the last three weeks — by two Pocatello men who also happen to be fishing buddies and co-workers at Idaho Central Credit Union.
Cody Spencer and Rob Mackesey have each taken a turn at holding the record in recent days.
Spencer caught a 20.9-inch kokanee salmon at Big Elk Creek near Palisades Reservoir on Aug. 19. He defeated a two-year-old record, but his own victory was short lived.
Mackesey went to Big Elk Creek on Saturday and was able to catch a 21.5-inch male kokanee salmon, setting a new record.
“I’m happy we both got to hold the record for a bit,” Spencer said, adding that it’s all good competition and fun between them.
Still, Spencer says he may have to return to the area in the future to see how long they can keep their winning streak going.
Mackesey and Spencer set out to get records of their own after learning that the previous record-setting fish was only 18.5-inches.
“We catch bigger ones than that at Palisades,” Mackesey said.
Apparently they’re not just telling fish tales.
Mackesey and Spencer both reeled in fish larger than 18.5 inches on Aug. 19, but the latter narrowly came out ahead with his 20.9-inch record-setter. Mackesey caught one that was just shy of that at 20.08 inches on the same day.
Spencer said it was great to hold a record even if it was just for a little while, and he appreciates Fish and Game’s relatively new catch and release program that allows people to set records on fish they let go. They do have to submit a photo of the fish beside a measuring tape or similar item that can be used to verify its length.
“It’s awesome to get recognition that way instead of keeping and killing the fish,” Spencer said.
Mackesey was also excited to get a record of his own over the weekend.
“It’s hard to fathom it all honestly,” he said, adding that he got an official email on Monday confirming his new record. “It’s tough to put into words. It’s an awesome experience.”
Mackesey and Spencer are life-long fisherman, but both are relatively new to kokanee Salmon fishing. They say they enjoy casting for the unique fish.
“They definitely look different than typical fish,” Spencer said, adding that they look more like something you would catch in Alaska than Idaho.
Mackesey says the fish are normally a silver color, but when they’re spawning, the males become red and develop a hump on their back. They also have teeth.
“Their physical features are so cool,” Mackesey said.
Both men enjoy fishing for kokanee salmon and plan to continue the sport in the future.
“It’s definitely an annual thing,” Spencer said.
And the lure of being able to one day break their own records is enticing, too.
“I would definitely entertain the idea of going after another state record for sure,” Mackesey said.