Just a few weeks after Idaho Fish and Game announced that it will allow catch-and-release records for 2016, the state got its first record in the new category.

In late December, 36-year-old Thomas McLeod from Grangeville broke a state record with a yellow perch he caught at Lake Cascade. The angler said he had planned on submitting another fish he had caught on a previous trip, but when he caught a 14.75-inch perch last month, he knew that fish was the one to go with. Better yet, he also set a record for being the first person to be written into the new catch-and-release program.

“I can’t lose that one,” McLeod said.

McLeod added that he typically takes home some of the fish for dinner, but could not bear to kill the large perch.

“I’m all about letting some of the big ones go and let someone else catch them, or let them spawn,” he said.

The state’s new record guidelines require anglers to measure the fish, take at least one photo of the catch next to a ruler, one photo of the fish with the angler, one witness, and the application submitted with 30 days. Of course, to qualify for catch-and-release records, the fish has to be released.

“Fish and Game has received many requests through the years to recognize catch-and-release records. With Fish and Game going to a three-year cycle for rules and a new fishing rules booklet taking effect Jan. 1, it seemed like a good time to launch the program,” Fish and Game stated in a press release.

“The new program is a chance to recognize anglers who want to release a trophy fish and include species that can’t be legally harvested,” said Martin Koenig, sportfishing program coordinator with Fish and Game. “People should be excited to go out early this year and catch a state-record fish.”

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