Washington Fisherman Boats Massive State-Record Whitefish

Boggs’s whitefish was the first state record fish caught and certified in Washington state in 2023. Gavin Boggs

On the afternoon of February 11, Gavin Boggs hooked into a lunker whitefish while fishing for walleye on north-central Washington’s Lake Roosevelt. When he finally boated the fish, it weighed close to 8 pounds, measured more than 26 inches long, and sported a girth of 16 inches. Six days later, the fish was certified by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) as a new state record for lake whitefish, topping the previous record by less than half a pound.

“I was targeting walleye at a depth of around 75 feet using a four-inch swimbait, and it was a pretty tough day on the water,” Boggs, a Gonzaga University junior, told WDFW officials. “We did mark a lot of fish on the fish-finder and had caught one walleye before this big fish took my lure.”

Boggs said he only fought the fish for a couple of minutes, but he could tell by the bend in his rod and the heft at the other end of the line that he’d hooked into something special. “As soon as I hooked it, I thought it was a big walleye,” he said. “I carefully let the fish do its thing down below the boat and then when it came to the surface and we netted the fish, I was totally surprised. I’ve never targeted lake whitefish in Lake Roosevelt. It is my favorite place to fish for smallmouth bass and walleye, and this has changed my mind about fishing for lake whitefish.”

He sent his dad a photo of the fish when he got back to the boat ramp. The elder Boggs had a hunch that it might qualify for a new state record, so Gavin put the big whitey on ice and drove to a grocery store with a certified scale in nearby Davenport. The fish’s official weight came in at 7.86 pounds. It topped the previous record—a 7.5-pound fish caught in February 2021 by an angler named Jacob White.

WDFW fisheries biologist Danny Garret helped Boggs file the required paperwork during the state record verification process. He said whitefish are plentiful in Lake Roosevelt. “Hopefully, this record will increase the excitement for lake whitefish in Lake Roosevelt,” Garrett said. “This fishery goes largely unnoticed.”

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Lake whitefish aren’t native to Washington, but the fish have adapted well to life in the Evergreen State. According to Garret, they inhabit many large lakes and reservoirs throughout the state and flourish in the Upper Columbia River. Close relatives of salmon, trout, grayling, and char, lake whitefish can grow to an average length of 18 and 24 inches and live up to 15 years.

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