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RALEIGH, N.C. (Aug. 13) – It was a hot weekend for kokanee salmon fishing — literally and figuratively — as two state records for the small salmon were broken within a day of each other.

Mark Swann of Black Mountain reeled in his 2.48-pound record breaker on Aug. 3 while fishing Nantahala Lake. The next day, Levi Towery of Forest City brought in a salmon from Nantahala that topped Swann’s by a mere two-tenths of a pound.

Levi, 9, caught his 2.68-pounder, which measured 18.4 inches in length, using a Browning rod, with a 6500C Ambassador reel and a Doctor Spoon lure.

Levi, who was fishing with his grandfather Roy Toms, also of Forest City, says he expected to catch a record breaker. He has been fishing for salmon with his grandfather for the last three years and everything he knows about catching the silvery fish, he learned from him.

Toms says he’s been catching kokanee salmon from Nantahala since the early-1980s, many of them much bigger than the one Levi reeled in on Saturday. When he saw last year that the newly established kokanee salmon state record had been set by a 9.2-ounce fish, he knew it was just a matter of time before Levi reeled in a record breaker.

Nantahala Lake is the only spot in North Carolina where kokanee salmon are found. The fish, which is native to the western United States, was stocked in Nantahala Lake in the mid-1960s by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in an attempt to establish the species as a forage fish for other predator fishes in the lake. This stock has remained and become a favorite target for anglers.

Kokanee salmon do not grow very large, generally less than 20 inches in length, which is the reason they were stocked as a forage species. They feed almost exclusively on plankton and on small aquatic organisms.

Jake Rash, district biologist for the Wildlife Resources Commission, certified the fish, which was weighed on scales at Ingles Market in Forest City.

To qualify for a state record, anglers must have caught their fish on a hook and line, must have their fish weighed on a certified scale witnessed by one observer, have the fish positively identified by a qualified expert from the Commission and submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish.

For a list of all freshwater fish state records in North Carolina or for more information on fishing in North Carolina’s public, inland waters, visit the Commission’s Web site, www.ncwildlife.org.
 
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