Idaho Angler Stripped Of State Record Because He Didn’t Have A Fishing License

Record trout
Kody King

Every year, like clockwork, I’m getting ready to fish with someone and they ask if they should get a license or just risk it.

“I’m only going this one time! Never even seen a Game Warden here before. Why do I have to pay to fish a public lake?”

My answer is always the same: Just buy the dang fishing license.

I get that people don’t like the idea of even more of their hard earned dollars flowing into Uncle Sam’s pocket, but fishing licenses are one of the few times where you directly see where your money goes. I’ll probably do a dive on the cash flow of fishing licenses soon, but for now just understand that every one of those dollars goes to supporting the natural resources that we all love to use.

Also, it’s really not expensive. If you are truly just fishing the one time, get a 1 or 3 day pass, they’re like $15 bucks. Or buck up and get one for the whole year for like $30, it’s not that much of a financial commitment and you can feel good about sending money towards protecting and maintaining game lands and public waters.

You’re already shelling out for the rod and reel, line, baits, and all the other gear you need, which can be quite pricey unless you get it through Tackle Warehouse, the best place to find top gear for low prices, so why not just take that final step and get a license to cover your backside?

There’s always the longshot reason for wanting to have a license as well, as this angler in Idaho found out the hard way just the other day:

You may just catch a state record…

Back in May, the Idaho Fish and Game Department made a news release congratulating Kody King, a Montpelier resident, on smashing the state record with a tiger trout he caught in Montpelier Reservoir. The monster nearly doubled the previous state record of 4.8 pounds, clocking in at 29 inches and 8.47 pounds.

Obviously, that’s an incredible catch, but one game warden was uneasy with the entire thing when he began looking through the submission details.

Kolby White, a senior conservation officer for IFG, received the initial call from King on May 26th, who left a voicemail saying he caught a huge tiger trout the night before that may be a state record. The key phrase there was “the night before”.

White sent the voicemail to his supervisor who got in touch with King and they went through the process of filling out paperwork and getting the fish weighed officially. When the news release hit the press, White saw the picture King submitted (The one above) and immediately got suspicious.

He told the Idaho State Journal:

“A couple days later I saw our news release and I looked at the picture that was submitted and it threw me off a little bit because I knew exactly where that photo was taken at the Montpelier Reservoir and it definitely wasn’t taken at nighttime.”

Anyone with a brain can see that it was the middle of the day in that picture…

White then looked King up in the system and saw that he purchased a one-day, non-resident fishing license around 2pm the day he caught the fish. Officer White then went the final step by going to the Montpelier Reservoir and took several pictures from the spot the fish was caught.

“Based on all of my photographs, it was obvious that the fish was caught sometime between noon and 1 p.m. So, with all of that information we conducted an interview with (King) and eventually once we showed him our pictures he admitted to catching and killing the fish and then traveling into town to purchase a license after the fact.”

King was hit with misdemeanor charges of fishing without a license and unlawful possession of wildlife and his state record was rescinded. Gatlynn Mayes’ 4.8 pounder caught in Becker Pond in 2020 was reinstated as the official state record.

In a public apology published by The News-Examiner, King expressed remorse for his actions:

“I am deeply sorry to inform you that the state record fish I caught was illegal, as I did not possess the necessary fishing license at the time. I understand the importance of following the rules and regulations that govern our community, and I am truly remorseful for my actions… 

I understand the significance of upholding the laws that protect our natural resources and maintain the integrity of our community. I assure you that this incident was a lapse in judgment, and I am committed to making amends and learning from this experience.”

Talk about a swing of events. One day you’re the best tiger trout fisher the state has ever seen and the next you’re a criminal trying to fix a bad situation. Again, I’ll say to anyone out there who may want to go fishing only once or twice this year: Just buy the license.

If laws and supporting public lands don’t convince you it’s the right thing, just imagine catching a state record and winding up with a criminal record instead…

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A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock