After 53 Years, Minnesota Coco Record Broken Twice in Two Days – Duluth News Tribune

Duluth — Charter fishing boat Captain Brody Kaldal had just one day to bask in glory after customer Walter Taylor, 7, of Stillwater, Minnesota, smashed a record-breaking coho salmon Sunday morning on Lake Superior.

But then Captain Kent Poulsen had to go and break the record again. On Monday morning, his client, David Sychoch, 54, of Wabasha, Minnesota, caught a coho piece nearly 9 ounces heavier.

Coho salmon are part of an unprecedented batch of monster coho in western Lake Superior this summer as the fish devoured the largest ever crop of baby sisko, also called lake herring.

The Big Lake coho has averaged between 2 to 4 pounds over the past 30 years or more, and has struggled to find food in the frigid, sterile Lake Superior. Poulsen customer Koho topped Monday’s Grocery Store Certified Super One at 10.92 pounds and 29 inches long. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employees have received the fish registration application form, have officially certified the fish and expect it to be officially certified within days.

Caldal’s client Koho on Sunday weighed 10.06 pounds and was 27 inches tall. The old state record, which stood for 53 years, was set in 1970 in Lake Superior off the Baptism River. It weighed 10 pounds and was 27.5 inches long.

Captain Kent Poulsen of the Left Bridge Charter Association with a 10.92-pound coho salmon caught by one of his clients Monday on Lake Superior near Duluth. The fish is expected to be certified as Minnesota’s new record coho, beating the 10.06-pound coho caught Sunday and the state record of 10 pounds set in 1970.

Contributed / Lift Bridge Charter Society / Kent Paulsen

“We’ve been watching our coho grow fat all summer long, getting to 4lbs, then 6lbs, then 7lbs. … We really expected this to happen,” Paulsen told the News Tribune on Monday. Probably, and it did.” “But I honestly don’t expect us to hold the record for long. … I wouldn’t at all doubt if it broke again in the next few days. And certainly by next year.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a 15-pounder next year, thanks to this Cisco boom,” Paulsen said.

Cichosz, who fished for coho on Paulsen’s boat, True North II, will be listed as the state record holder. A group of stripper flies, Spin Doctor Flasher and Charging Tail fly, were tethered behind a bottom tool 50 feet down in over 80 feet of water about 3 miles from the entrance to Duluth.

“Yeah, that was his first time fishing on Lake Superior,” Paulsen remarked of Sechus. “He’s an ex-Marine.”

The powerful fish, Paulsen said, “shrieked 100 feet of line from the reel even before David could catch the line and start reeling… We knew it was a big fish right away.”

Walter Taylor with coho salmon

Walter Taylor, 7, of Stillwater, Minnesota, caught a 10.06-pound coho salmon while fishing on his rental Looper 2.0 boat Sunday. The fish held the new record for a coho in Minnesota for exactly one day, and on Monday it was surpassed by a 10.96-pound coho.

Contributed by / Duluth Fishing Charters / Brody Caldal

The fish now in second place on Caldal’s boat, the Looper 2.0, was caught by a Creative Touch spoon spinner behind the Dipsy Diver at a depth of approximately 80 feet, about 5 miles from the entrance to Duluth.

Coho salmon, like lake trout and Chinook salmon, were fed the largest wave of cisco since records were kept. This batch hatched in Lake Superior in early 2022 and is now the perfect size for larger fish to chew on. DNR biologists predicted this spring that Cisco’s mass was about to lead to an explosion of fish biomass in the Big Lake, and they were right. But predictions that the big fish (trout and salmon) would be too full of cisco to chase the lures of anglers proved premature.

It was one of the best fishing summers in anyone’s memory at the western end of Lake Superior.

“I don’t remember fishing as good as this summer,” said Caldal, who has been fishing on the lake for seven years and has run his own boat for three seasons.

“It’s the best I’ve ever seen,” said Paulsen, who has been fishing on the Big Lake for 22 years and has run his charter business for the past eight seasons. “The trout in the lake have been steady all summer. We didn’t have the usual slowdown in July and August, and that added bonus of these big companies has been amazing.

We have about another month to see if we can break the record again this year.

Capt. Kent Paulsen

The big fish-eating sisko is about 8 inches long, said Corey Goldsworthy, Minnesota Fisheries Supervisor DNR Lake Superior. By late next year, the fish may be too big for all but the largest trout in the lake to eat, and the Sisco boom will end as quickly as it began, at least for sport anglers.

Even then, however, he expects at least another summer of big fish in western Lake Superior in 2024. Even the state-record chinook salmon, two 33-pound fish caught in 1989, may decline, Goldsworthy said.

“We’re already seeing 20-pound Chinooks this summer, so that record is not out of the question next summer,” Goldsworthy said. “We’re really in uncharted territory for Lake Superior. We’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Goldsworthy said coho salmon are native to the Pacific Ocean and have been stocked in Lake Superior since at least 1966. Several states and Ontario had strong stocking programs in place, Goldsworthy said, but all of those programs have now stopped and the fish are “naturalized, self-sustaining populations.” They lay their eggs in the tributaries of Lake Superior each fall.

Cisco’s last “epic” boom was in 1984, Goldsworthy said, and it is now estimated to be twice that size.

There are so many ciscoes west of Lake Superior that the coho did not make its usual summer migration up to the north shore to hunt down its usual prey. Instead, they stayed around Twin Ports. Now, the salmon are scurrying out of the estuaries waiting for enough inflow into the north and south shore rivers to spawn, likely later in September.

“We’ve got about another month to see if we can break the record again this year,” Paulsen said, adding that the 3-year-old coho then dies after it fledges.

“The two-year-olds this summer already weigh 4, 5 and even 6 pounds,” Caldal said, “so I think we’ll see a bigger coho next summer when these fish are 3 years old.”

(tags for translation)brody caldal

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