Michigan Fisherman’s First Chinook Salmon Is A New State Record

A group of people holding a fish
David LeMaster

His first salmon would have been something to remember no matter how big it was. The fact that it will now be etched into the state record books assures that it is a fish he’ll never forget.

The gigantic Chinook Salmon caught by 19-year-old Luis Hernandez Martinez not only qualifies for the new Michigan state record, but it’s also the largest one ever caught anywhere on the Great Lakes. The enormous size of the fish is further put into perspective when you realize that the 12-pound fish his sister is holding next to him is a respectable sized fish.

Chinook Salmon, also called King Salmon, are present throughout all 5 of the Great Lakes. But no one has ever caught one bigger than the 47-pound 8.6-ounce behemoth that Martinez hooked this past weekend.

The fisherman was aboard the Icebreaker II, captained by by Bobby Sullivan out of Ray’s Auto Marine in Ludington, Michigan.

He caught the fish on a Moonshine Magnum Spoon colored in Raspberry Carbon while trolling at about 3 mph. The fish hit the spoon at 6:15 AM, so right during the morning’s magic hour.

Martinez discussed his record breaking adventure with Field and Stream.

“The first 20 minutes of the fight was tough. My arms were tired and in pain. Then, after the fish jumped out of the water, it got a little easier.”

After 45 minutes of tug-of-war, Captain Sullivan helped Martinez haul the fish into the boat.

“Most everyone I talked to said they figured the fight would have taken much longer. I guess it wore itself out about halfway through.

And once it was in the boat, I thought, Wow, that’s a big one; that’ll make for a lot of meals.”

Captain Sullivan said he knew the fish was big, and figured it would safely put Martinez into the esteemed “Thirty Pound Club” back at the marina, but he had no idea they had just reeled in a state record.

“I had already called Captain Chuck II’s to let them know a big fish was coming their way; then we got back to the marina and hung the fish on their scale.

It read 47-plus. I thought, that can’t be right, and weighted it a second time.”

They took the fish to another nearby tackle shop to verify the weight, and it again checked in with record breaking numbers. After that they decided to find an officially certified scale to make sure the record was legit and a biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources met them on site to verify the size of the fish.

Martinez said he was blown away by how excited other people were for him.

“What really impressed me was how quickly the whole process took place, from the response of the DNR, to just how the whole community helped out and were just as excited as I was.”

The previous Michigan state record for the species was 46-pounds 6-ounces, a full pound smaller than the new record.

The previous largest Chinook Salmon caught in the Great Lakes was hooked in Ontario, and while a few ounces lighter than the old Michigan record that fish was longer.

If you plan on doing any fishing in Michigan, then be sure you purchase a fishing license. Keep in mind that in some circumstances you do not need to purchase a license when fishing with a professional guide, as oftentimes their entire boats are licensed and permitted to take tourists on fishing trips.

The sale of fishing licenses directly funds the protection and enhancement of public boat ramps, aquatic environments, and fish populations in all 50 states.

It also protects you from potentially being fined, having your gear confiscated, and/or losing your fishing privileges. It’s important to remember that just because you have a fishing license in one state, that does not mean it is valid in another state.

And as always, please fish responsibly and save the whiskey until after you’re off the water.

A beer bottle on a dock


A beer bottle on a dock