Doug Killam of the California Department of Fish and Game holds up a massive Chinook salmon carcass found near Anderson, Calif., in late October.
Oh yeah, that's a big one.
Wildlife officials in northern California last week came across one of the biggest Chinook salmon ever found in the state — a monster more than 4 feet long and weighing 85 pounds.
"We see lots of big ones," Doug Killam, a biologist in the California Department of Fish and Game's Red Bluff office, told the Redding Record Searchlight, "but this one was just bigger than most big ones — it was just spectacular."
The big fish had recently spawned and died, Killam said, and probably weighed about 90 pounds when it began its 100-mile swim upstream from the Pacific to the spot where it died on Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River near the town of Anderson.
The California sport-fishing record for a Chinook salmon is 88 pounds. In Alaska, where they're called king salmon, they get even bigger — the record sport catch is 97 pounds, while the largest commercial catch was a truly phenomenal 126 pounds.
"If someone would have caught this one, it probably would have been a state record," Killam told the Record Searchlight.
Ironically, the sad state of salmon spawning in the Pacific Northwest probably helped this one live a full life. Ocean commercial catches were canceled this year, and the river sport season on the Sacramento drastically shortened.