John Grubenoff of Pasco, Washington has been fishing for walleye for nearly three decades, but even he was surprised by the 20-pounder he pulled from the Columbia River last Friday. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), it was a mild and sunny winter day when Grubenoff caught a new state record.
“The largest walleye I’ve caught up until now was around 18 pounds,” he told The Spokesman Review.
Grubenoff’s massive catch measured 20.32 pounds on a certified scale. Its total length was recorded at 35.50 inches and girth at 22.75 inches. The DFW announced on Wednesday that the walleye officially overtook the previous state record, a 19.3-pound fish caught by Mike Hepper in the same area over seven years ago.
Grubenoff was trolling in 22 feet of water upstream in Lake Wallula, also known as McNary Pool, with a Rapala J-13 lure and a two-ounce weight. The area is known for especially good walleye fishing and contains some of the largest specimens in the country. Although boating can be difficult in the channels, anglers flock to Lake Wallula for its big and succulent walleye.
Despite not being native to Washington, walleye have quickly become one of the state’s most popular sportfish. The first sighting of the species in Washington was in 1962 from Banks Lake. Although biologists are still unsure how walleye entered the state, the fish quickly spread to other waterways. It is not uncommon for anglers to catch 14-pounders from the Columbia River in late winter, when the fish are bloated with eggs.
According to the International Game Fish Association, the all-tackle world record for walleye stands at a neat 25 pounds. That fish was caught by Mabry Harper in Tennessee’s Old Hickory Lake in 1960.
Grubenhoff said that he is thinking about having his record fish sent to a taxidermist for display at a local outfitter.
Images courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.