FRANKLIN, N.C. (June 27, 2014) — Nantahala Lake, a 1,065-acre reservoir in Clay and Macon counties, has spawned two state records for kokanee salmon in less than a week.
On June 6, Fred Mix, of Rainbow Springs, broke the existing record of 3 pounds, 9 ounces, held since 2009 by Ashley Swann, of Swannanoa, after reeling in a 3-pound, 15-ounce fish, using a homemade spinner.
Five days later, on June 11, Jeffery Todd Smith broke Mix’s record, catching a kokanee salmon that weighed 4 pounds, 1 ounce. He used flashers and dodgers as lures.
Like many anglers in the area, Smith, who is from Mills River in Henderson County, knew that kokanee salmon are found in North Carolina only in Nantahala Lake, having been stocked in the mid-1960s by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in an attempt to establish the species as a forage fish.
He said he has been trolling the lake for the last two years, hoping to catch a record-breaking salmon. On June 11, which happened to be his day off as well as his birthday, Smith finally achieved his goal, reeling in the state record fish after trolling for nearly nine hours.
He had the fish weighed on certified scales at the Ingles supermarket in Bryson City that night, and the next day, Jacob Rash, the Commission’s coldwater research coordinator, examined and certified the fish.
To qualify for a N.C. Freshwater Fish State Record, anglers must have caught the fish by rod and reel or cane pole, have the fish weighed on a scale certified by the N.C. Department of Agriculture, witnessed by one observer, have the fish certified by a fisheries biologist from the Commission, and submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish.
For anglers who catch a kokanee salmon that doesn’t quite measure up to this latest record-breaker but is 14 inches or longer or weighs 2 pounds or more, the Commission has a kokanee salmon classification for its North Carolina Angler Recognition Program. NCARP officially recognizes anglers who catch trophy-sized freshwater fish that do not qualify for a state record with a certificate featuring color reproductions of fish artwork by renowned wildlife artist and former Commission fisheries biologist Duane Raver.
For a list of all freshwater fish state records in North Carolina or more information on the State Record Fish Program, click here. For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, www.ncwildlife.org/fishing or call the Division of Inland Fisheries, (919) 707-0220.
For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit the fishing page.