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On March 1, 2014 Tia and her dad were set up on Lake Cascade when line went screaming off one of their tip-up rods. Eventually, the fish got tangled up in two other lines, but through teamwork, Tia was able to land the giant perch.
“She was really excited. She was jumping up and down,” says Gary “We were both pretty excited.”
“I couldn’t quit smiling,” says Tia. “It was the biggest perch I’ve seen. I was kind of hoping it was a state record.”
After weighing the fish on his own scale, Gary knew it was close to a state record, and knowing that fish can lose weight after being landed, he rushed to Cascade to have Tia’s fish weighed on a certified scale, where his suspicions were confirmed. Tia’s yellow perch became the new state record weighing in at 2 pounds 11.68 ounces. She still holds the Idaho state record for yellow perch, but a recent hunting trip made her dad realize she may hold a world record as well. While hunting in Wisconsin, Gary visited the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. There he learned how many different world records exist. He also discovered that the world record for yellow perch caught ice fishing with a tip-up was 2 pounds 6 ounces out of Sheep Pond, Massachusetts.
“I knew there were different line class records, but I didn’t know there were records like ice fishing,” says Gary.
When he discovered there was a world record classification for ice fishing with a tip-up rod, and saw that the current record was five ounces lighter than Tia’s fish, he did the paperwork and waited for a response. Tia’s catch was recently confirmed as the largest yellow perch caught while ice fishing using a tip-up rod, anywhere in the world.
When Tia learned that news, the smile that wouldn’t go away last March came back.
“He told me over the phone,” she says. “I was laughing so hard I was crying. It was funny.”
This record fish is the result of Fish and Game’s dedication to restoring the perch fishery at Lake Cascade that started more than a decade ago. In the late 1990s, fishery managers recognized that Lake Cascade’s perch population had depleted dramatically. In response to angler input they began a program to rejuvenate the fishery. Thousands of yellow perch were released into Lake Cascade, and those fish successfully spawned, beginning a rapid recovery of the lake’s perch population. Fifteen years later, Lake Cascade has a strong population of yellow perch, and in 2014 anglers were regularly catching them in the two pound range.
While Tia’s state record and world record remain on the books for now, there will be plenty of anglers trying to catch a larger perch this year. Yellow perch spawn in early spring, and right now the females preparing for the spring spawn are adding weight as their eggs grow. Ice conditions in this part of the state have been variable due to an unusually warm December, but as winter wears on, the ice is becoming more stable. The next couple of months will tell whether Tia will retain her place in Idaho’s record books, and at the top of the world’s list of perch caught through the ice using a tip-up.
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