The term “hybrid vigor” is used by fish biologists to describe the fact that the offspring of two disparate parents often exhibits a growth rate superior to either.
That definitely was the case for the tiger trout Kirk Herrin caught last month.
Herrin, a painting contractor from Manson, landed a huge tiger trout of 15.04 pounds on April 11 in Roses Lake. After all the vetting and paperwork is complete, the fish is expected to be:
n A state record for the brook trout/brown trout cross,
n The No. 2 tiger on the International Game Fish Association’s all-tackle listing of world records,
n The world record tiger in the IGFA’s 10-pound-test-line class.
n The 10-pound-test-line class record in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
The only tiger on the books, from anywhere, larger than Herrin’s fish is the IGFA all-tackle world record of 20 pounds, 13 ounces, caught in Lake Michigan 34 years ago. The current state record is 13.75 pounds, caught May 27, 2008, in Fish Lake, near Spokane, by Evan Roda. The existing IGFA 10-pound-line class record is an almost insignificant 3 pounds, and the FFHF 10-pound line class record an even more insignificant 2 pounds, Herrin said.
Whew! Not bad for a catch that not only was a fluke, but also was caught on a Fluke — a soft swim-bait bass lure.
Herrin was up front about his lucky day.
“I was casting for bass,” he said, “so it was strictly an accident that I hooked the big trout.”
But as an experienced tournament bass fisherman, Herrin knows the record fish, if officially verified, is worth a few bucks in tackle endorsements. At least enough, maybe, to have his tiger mounted, he said.
He also mentioned that an 8-pound tiger was caught about a week later, by another angler, and released back into the lake.
Tiger trout have been introduced over the years by a number of states, usually for two reasons: first, as a way to enhance the sport fishery, and second as a predator. Tigers prey on other fish, and have been effective in controlling “rough species” populations in certain circumstances. The hybrids are also sterile, making it easier to control their numbers.
Wisconsin was one of the earliest states to utilize the trout, planting them in the Great Lakes until the 1970s, when the program ended. The long-standing world record was probably one of those Wisconsin fish.
According to state Department of Fish and Wildlife inland fish program manager Chris Donley in Spokane, a dozen or so lakes have been planted with tiger trout in Washington, and stocking continues.
“The hybrids have an even better growth rate than our triploid rainbow,” Donley said. “To produce a really big-body trout, you need to find one willing to eat other fish.”
Roses is still being planted, from the Chelan Hatchery, and has been since 2009. Biologist Travis Maitland in the state’s Wenatchee office said the lake has received fish from fingerling size up to about a pound.
“But there’s no way any of those fish could grow to the size of Herrin’s trophy in three years,” he said. “It must have been an anomaly — maybe a few surplus brood stock fish, or something like that.”
State Fish and Wildlife Department personnel monitoring the recreational spot shrimp opener Saturday said good weather brought out more participants than last year, and that catch results were generally good. Exceptions were found in areas susceptible to the heavy tides over the weekend — most notably in the San Juan Islands and adjacent spots.
Biologist Mark O’Toole at the state’s La Conner office said checks at Biz Point, for example, showed 6.2 pounds of shrimp per boat — one of the lowest averages in this general area.
Kevin John, at Holiday Sports in Burlington, said Marine Area 7 fisheries on Friday and Saturday, and on May 17, 18 and 19, should be more productive, as tides ease.
Only one day — Friday — remains in the shrimp fishery for Marine Areas 8, 9, 10 and 11, and if the opener repeats, it should be good. And crowded. Monitors counted 519 pot buoys from Picnic Point south to Edwards Point, just south of Edmonds, and 202 boats in Marine Area 9 compared to 127 last year. The Edmonds area had the highest catch average between the San Juans and Seattle, at 19.7 pounds of shrimp per boat. That’s based on a formula calling for 3.5 pots per boat on the average, O’Toole said.
A big crowd of 371 boats was counted in Marine Area 8-1, Saratoga Passage, and a fine average of 19.0 pounds per boat. Port Susan, however, was perhaps down a little from last year.
Hood Canal continued its reign as the state’s premier spot shrimp producer (70 percent of the entire inland waters recreational catch), hosting 1,510 boats Saturday. Canal shrimpers fished for just four hours, O’Toole said, but averaged 17.7 pounds per boat, and an incredible total of 26,787 pounds of shrimp.
Marine Areas 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, the eastern Strait and part of the San Juans, opened May 3 for halibut, and Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood said it has been one of the better early seasons in several years.
“A number of our customers were back with limits by 9 a.m., and everyone was excited about the prospects,” Chamberlain said.
That included some limits from Mutiny Bay, a close-in fishery that is not usually known for numbers of halibut, he said.
The largest fish he was able to verify was a 140-pounder from Protection Island, he said, but he also saw fish of 60 and 40 pounds, and a couple of 20s.
Up north, Stuart Forst at Holiday Sports said Hein Bank is probably the best spot for this weekend, followed by Partridge and McArthur banks.
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.