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Over the past couple years, there have been several notable stories of anglers who may have caught a state record fish but didn’t have a scale on hand.
Zack Hall had a potential contender for Ohio’s longstanding state record muskie on Piedmont Lake in 2018. In 2019, it was Demetrio Ascioti who caught a potential New York state record tiger muskie on Otisco Lake.
For 2020 — a year that we jokingly suggested may be remembered as the “Year of the Yellow Perch” — the story of “what could have been” may belong to Wisconsin angler Kyle Tokarski.
It Wasn’t a Walleye, But…
Tokarski, who has worked as a guide for Alexander Sport Fishing out of Green Bay for the past seven years, was actually fishing for walleye on March 23rd. Throughout the day, he also ended up catching a half dozen perch — something not at all uncommon for the area.
“They come through in packs,” Tokarski said. “You see them for a while, then they disappear.”
While yellow perch weren’t what Tokarski was targetting, one catch in particular made up for it.
Catching a Potential Wisconsin State Record
While he did not have a scale on him — he had debated bringing one with him but opted to hit the ice without it — he did have a tape measurer to record the fish’s length and girth.
With a massive 16 inch girth and 17 inch length, Tokarski’s yellow perch would have easily qualified as Wisconsin’s live release record.
The current live release record for a yellow perch in Wisconsin was caught on Lake Altoona in June 2019.
That fish was 13 inches long — four inches shorter than the perch Tokarski landed. He also mentioned that they have been catching walleye with the same girth as his perch.
In the moment, however, he didn’t quite realize the magnitude of what he was working with.
“I Looked Up the State Record and Felt Sick Afterwards”
In addition to working as a fishing guide, Tokarski is also an avid smallmouth bass angler.
“I know what a 3 1/2 or a 4 pound smallmouth feels like,” Tokarski said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that perch was around 3.8 (pounds).”
Upon finding out that he had let a potential Wisconsin state record swim away unweighed, however, Tokarski’s sentiment is one most anglers can relate to.
“I looked up the state record and felt sick afterwards.”
The Record Still Stands…
Interestingly enough, Tokarski visited his local Cabela’s a couple days after catching and releasing his monster yellow perch. On site, they had a mounted replica of Wisconsin’s longstanding state record.
Taking to social media, Tokarski stated that he thought his fish would have eclipsed the current record and many others agreed.
For comparison, the fish above — the current Wisconsin state record yellow perch — was caught on Lake Winnebago in 1954. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources does not list a recorded length on its website, but the mount suggests the fish was 15 1/2 inches.
Nonetheless, Tokarski’s fishing journey will continue. A Rapala-sponsored angler, he wanted to thank the company for providing the Jigging Rap that allowed him to catch his monster perch.
If you would are headed to the Green Bay area and would like to book a fishing trip with Kyle Tokarski or any of the other experienced guides at Alexander’s Sport Fishing, you can visit their official website or call 920-851-4214.