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Any time you catch a new species of fish is exciting. But it has to be doubly so if it turns out it’s a new state record!

That’s just what happened to South Dakota resident Darrick Koch when he landed a chinook salmon that may end up completely annihilating the old record. “It’s amazing,” Koch told the Capital Journal.

Koch and his buddy Troy Bramer were fishing Lake Oahe, trolling the deep waters near the Oahe Dam when Koch made his record catch last Friday. The two had gotten to the lake at 6 a.m. that morning, but were not having a whole lot of luck.

As frustrating as the day was, it was a long drive for the two to get to the lake and they weren’t even remotely interested in heading in early. Patience would eventually pay off. It wasn’t until after 2:30 p.m. that the record salmon took a blue squid bait in 170 feet of water.

Lake Oahe is also home to South Dakota’s northern pike record and is home to many other species as well. So Koch wasn’t even sure it was a salmon when they first noticed line peeling off the reel.

“When you’re out there salmon fishing there’s all kinds of fish that could bite,” Koch told the paper. “You don’t really know what you have on.”

After a grueling hour-long fight with the fish, Koch finally had his first chinook salmon on board the boat. While they knew it was a big fish, as is often the case with record catches, neither angler realized just how big.

Bramer had a digital scale, but the battery was dead. The two anglers went back to fishing before they decided to check fish weights and lengths on the internet. That’s when the enormity of the catch began to dawn on them.

“That’s when Troy said maybe we should go into town and get it weighed,” Koch told the Capital Journal.

The salmon was actually too much for the scale at the first bait shop the anglers took the salmon to. Fortunately their second stop had a bigger scale where the fish unofficially weighed in at 31.55 pounds.

If certified as a record at that weight, Koch’s fish would not only break the record, it would completely shatter it by almost seven pounds. That fish was a 24-pound, 8-ounce salmon caught by Gordon Sampson, also in Lake Oahe, last August.

The catch will have to be reviewed by South Dakota Game and Fish before it can become the official record. One thing is for sure, Koch isn’t going to forget his first salmon catch any time soon!