This mammoth, record-class king salmon was found dead on Oct. 30 in Battle Creek, a major tributary to Northern California’s Sacramento River by a crew of biologists surveying the creek for spawners.
“The length of this giant was 1290 mm (50.7 inches!) and I can’t remember the massive girth, but a weight calculator gave an estimate of 85 pounds!” says Matt Johnson, of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, who sent to photo in to be entered in our Smoker of the Year Contest. “Some lucky dog might have broken the state record had there been a season this year!”
The California state record for Chinook salmon is 88 pounds, a fish taken from the Sacramento River by O.H. Lindberg on 11/21/1979. There’s no telling how big this Battle Creek fish would have been when he was fresh and not spawned out, but he obviously had record potential! My mind reels at the thought of potentially hooking him down in the lower river where I used to fish when we had a season…down where the fish are all bright and have sea lice. I’m guessing he would have torn us up and left us heartbroken had we hooked him, but I sure would have loved to had the chance!
In any case, I hope this big guy did ‘the deed’ many times and spread some good DNA around before kicking the bucket!
Here’s another look at it…According to Johnson, the first shot was snapped by Doug Killam, Associate DFG Fish Biologist and the guy straining to hold up the monster was Dale Morrison of the Pacific States Marines Fisheries Commission. This photo is of Killiam himself. Any way you slice it, this big sucker was the King of kings!!
Of course, this king is a small bright spot in an otherwise dismal season (again). There are hardly any kings in the Valley this fall — Nimbus Hatchery on the American River has next to none, the total fall run on the Feather is something like 6,000 fish (down from over 100,000 not too many years back) and the Sac system is also a total bust — including normally prolific Battle Creek, where this lunker called home.
“The fall-run escapement into Battle Creek this year is totally pathetic,” says Johnson. “The last update I heard was around 12,000 fish. This number represents the count through the “peak ” entry period of late September/early October. Hopefully this rain will bring a few more fish in!”