When 12-year-old Tia Wiese landed a behemoth yellow perch last March on Idaho's Cascade Lake, she hoped it would break the state record. But little did the Eagle, Idaho, angler know her 2-pound, 11.68-ounce jumbo would eventually shatter a world benchmark as well.
"We received confirmation January 12 from the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame that Tia's fish has been recognized as a new ice-fishing world record for fish caught on a tip-up," said her father, Gary, who was fishing with her at the time. A local firefighter, he savors spending time on the water with his daughter at every possible opportunity.
"I knew it was a big fish, but setting a world record was a surprise," said Tia, now 13.
The father-daughter team paid their dues to land the portly perch. In fact, just getting out onto the ice was a challenge. "We had to back our trailer in the water and use ramps to get our four-wheeler on the ice," Gary recalled, explaining that recent rains had raised the lake level, pulling the icepack away from the bank. "The rain also left water on the ice, which refroze in a thin crust, and we had to deal with that."
Strong winds and a rain-sleet mix added to the adversity. "The conditions were pretty miserable," Gary confided. Seeking shelter, the pair popped up their portable over 24 feet of water along a breakline leading up to a spawning flat brushed by current from an incoming creek. While jigging from the house, they watched tip-ups positioned along the break.
At around 11 a.m., a flag tripped over 14 feet of water, triggering an epic battle that saw the trophy perch race 25 yards to foul their jigging lines before eventually being pulled onto the ice. "When I heard our lines going in the shanty, I knew it had gotten tangled in them," Tia recalled. "We thought it was a tiger muskie at first," Gary added.
After landing the fish, they rushed it to a certified scale for an official weight. "I missed breaking the state record by 4/100ths of a pound the week before," said Gary. "We wanted it weighed right away."
The perch, which measured 15.5 inches long, with a 12.75-inch girth, was quickly certified as an Idaho state record. But it wasn't until the following fall, while Gary was on a hunting trip to Wisconsin, that he realized the Hall of Fame had a tip-up category within its ice fishing division. "I spoke with director Emmett Brown while in Wisconsin, and he encouraged me to submit our application," said Gary.
As it turned out, their catch easily topped the existing record of 2 pounds, 6 ounces set by Roy Leyva on Massachusetts' Sheep Pond in March of 2005. And ten months after icing the fish, the record was Tia's.
A true diehard, she declines to reveal specific details about the lure that felled the giant perch — other than, "It was a natural bait on a secret rig. I'd rather not say any more." And who can blame her? With stellar numbers of supersize perch swimming the fertile waters of Cascade Lake, more than a few anglers are already gunning for her record. But who knows, it could be just a matter of time before one of Tia and Gary's father-daughter dates ends with yet another record-class fish.