SANDPOINT — Somewhere, out there in the depths of Lake Pend Oreille, Old Man Sparkles is telling his own fishing story of his daring escape from the hands of a mighty young angler.
Old Man Sparkles — the name given to the 36.5-inch, 22-pound Gerrard rainbow trout caught by Sophie Egizi, 8, of Sagle — was recently certified as a state catch-and-release record by the Idaho Fish and Game.
Sophie, the daughter of Bob and Jessi Egizi, caught the fish Oct. 11 trolling a fly while fishing with Capt. Bob Wiley of Pend Oreille Charters. The family learned three weeks later it was a record.
“We were trolling and then it just hit,” Sophie said. “I grabbed the rod and then it just went down and down, and then down some more. Then it was 30 or 40 more minutes fighting it.”
Sophie’s hands were cold and her arms sore but she never considered giving up, she said. She was determined to land the record-book fish.
“So I get him up to the surface then he dove down a couple hundred feet,” she said. “I kept doing that until I landed it.”
She was impressed by its size. She knew it was a big fish but didn’t know it was a record.
Wiley had a hunch — and when Sophie decided she wanted to release the fish she named Old Man Sparkles, he took the necessary measurements, photos and witness statements to ensure the record would be official.
The family learned via an email from Idaho Fish and Game that the record was recognized.
“We were so excited,” Bob Egizi said. “As parents we were so excited because we know how hard it is to catch that big fish. And yeah, we were just ecstatic for her.”
The trout was caught 15-20 minutes into what was scheduled to be a half-day trip. The family realized they couldn’t top Old Man Sparkles and decided to end the excursion after Sophie’s catch.
“We said, ‘We’re done. This is what we came for,” Bob Egizi said.
Wiley told them anglers fish for years without catching a monster like Old Man Sparkles.
The family is having a taxidermy replica made of the fish using photos and measurements. It will be a keepsake, along with the pin Sophie received for catching a 20-pound fish.
Now that she’s caught a record Gerrard, Sophie’s sights are on catching a record northern pike and bass as well.
The Idaho state record 37-pound Gerrard was caught in Lake Pend Oreille in 1947 and the lake recently produced a new catch-and-release record bull trout — 29 inches.
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Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.