Fishing

State confirms catch of record opah

Jim Watson of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, holds the 35.67-pound opah he caught in September. His fish broke the old state record by 7.49 pounds.
Jim Watson of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, holds the 35.67-pound opah he caught in September. His fish broke the old state record by 7.49 pounds. Courtesy

As expected, Jim Watson of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, now holds the state record for the largest opah caught off the Washington coast. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the record Tuesday.

Watson caught the fish — a large-eyed, orange-red colored, disc-shaped giant — while fishing with anchovies 45 miles off Westport in September. It weighed 35.67 pounds and measured 37 7/8 inches long.

“Catching the fish was a lot of work, but fun. They really fight, and it took awhile,” Watson said in a department news release. “The captain and crew came unglued, because you just don’t see these fish very often.”

Watson shared the fish with the charter crew, family and friends.

“It was not like any fish I’ve tasted, but it was really good,” said Watson. “Every bit of it went to good use.”

Opah are the only fish found to be warm-blooded throughout their bodies, a discovery first reported in the journal Science in May.

Watson’s opah exceeded the previous record by 7.49 pounds. That record was held by Rick Shapland on a fish also caught in the Pacific Ocean, off Westport, in 2013.

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