Salmon fishing for the first time, teenager breaks 43-year-old record

Luis Martinez, a 19-year-old who had never fished for salmon before, bought a fishing license on Friday and at the end of Saturday was celebrating having caught a Michigan record for chinook salmon.

Martinez, fishing on Lake Michigan with Icebreaker Charters, landed a 47.86 pound, 47.5 inch chinook salmon that broke the state record for 43 years, as reported by the Ludington Daily News and WLNS. The old record was 46.06 pounds and 43.5 inches caught in 1978 in the Grand River in Kent County.

“Honestly, I fell asleep the entire way until my mom said, ‘You’re up,’ and I thought what?” Martinez explained to WLNS. “They gave me the fishing rod and I started to rewind the thing.”

It took about 30 minutes to land.

“The first 10 minutes were tiring, my arms were sore, I was ready to give up, but my mom was screaming, ‘Don’t give up, keep spinning it,’” Martinez told WLNS. “The fish started jumping out of the water you could see it and they were like so excited because it was huge. I was like, it’s just a fish, there is nothing special , at least that’s what I thought.

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Captain Bobby Sullivan immediately recognized the potential of the capture.

“When it hit the ground, I said, ‘This thing is big,’” Sullivan told the Ludington Daily News. “And then I started to question myself. I thought it was pushing 40 [pounds]. I said, ‘You don’t realize what you just caught.’ “

The catch was taken at 7:30 am, so they kept fishing a bit longer, catching one more salmon.

“All the time I’m like, ‘I wish I had a scale, I wish I had a scale,” Sullivan told the Ludington Daily News.

They eventually made their way to Ray’s Auto Marine where the fish weighed over 47 pounds on a scale that was not certified, prompting the desire to get an official weight. This happened at the Northside Market, where the certified scale read 47.86 pounds. Later that day, Jay Wesley, the Lake Michigan Basin Coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources, certified the catch as the state record.

“Amazing to have 47 pounds,” Wesley told The Daily News. “In fact, the last state record was in 1978, and it was hung in the Grand River. Having this one to officially bite a lure, fished in Lake Michigan and fished in Michigan’s salmon capital, Ludington, is pretty amazing.

Martinez, who fished with his mother, sister and stepfather, told WLNS it was like winning the lottery in the sense of fishing. He added: “I will be back [salmon fishing again], but I will never beat this fish. It’s all downhill from now on.

Photos of Luis Martinez with fish and with fishing guide Bobby Sullivan courtesy of Jay Wesley of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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