By Martin Koenig, Idaho Fish and Game Natural Resource Program Coordinator
It was a typical cold, December day in central Idaho with rain down low and snow in the mountains. While many anglers might have been thinking about ice-fishing, winter steelhead, or even putting a fresh coat of wax on their skis and hitting the slopes, Joey Walton had other plans: big Smallmouth bass. Knowing he had to make the long run across the reservoir, he set out early in search of a trophy.
Having been looking for a record fish for months, and already catching several smallmouths this season just shy of the current record, he knew he was in for a challenge. On that cold 13th day of December, his hard work finally paid off when Walton finally connected with the fish he had been looking for. After using a measuring board to verify an accurate length and getting a some quick photos, Joey released the 23.75-inch giant smallmouth back into the frigid waters of Dworshak Reservoir, and took home a new catch-and-release state record instead.
The year 2022 may be remembered as of the best for Dworshak Reservoir, having produced a string of impressive smallmouth bass. If conditions remain consistent, there could be another record coming. But don’t get your hopes up, as the 9.72-pound weight record (also 23.75″ long) of Dan Steigers from 2006, and this latest catch-and-release record will require a truly exceptional fish to be broken Still, I’m optimistic and looking forward to seeing what 2023 might bring to the record books.