KENAI - An 18-year-old has landed a world-record Dolly Varden weighing in at more than 27 pounds.
"I wanted to go fishing, and I caught this world-record Dolly," said Mike Curtiss of Kenai.
Curtiss was fishing above the Arctic Circle on the Wulik River about 80 miles northwest of Kotzebue.
On his first day out,Oct. 9, he found a deep hole in a shallow, slow-moving section of the river and after warming up with a few smaller fish, he hooked into what turned out to be a 27-pound, 4-ounce Dolly Varden char.
Curtiss said he wasn't sure what he had on his 10-pound test line until he got the fish out of the water.
"I didn't realize how big it was until I got it up on the bank," he said.
Coincidentally, the old record for Dolly Varden and arctic char was set by Robert W. Thompson, the father of another member of Curtiss' fishing party.
Thompson caught a 20-pound, 12.5-ounce Dolly in the same river in 2000.
Curtiss said it took about 30 minutes to land the fish.
Curtiss' catch was impressive - 4 pounds is considered a large Dolly, and a 10-pound Dolly Varden or arctic char qualifies for trophy status in Alaska.
Curtiss' fish measured 41 1/2 inches long and was 21 3/4 inches around.
"I've never seen one that big before," said Alaska Department of Fish and Game area biologist Fred DeCicco.
"Fish over 20 pounds are really uncommon. North of the Bering Strait, that group gets to be much larger than ones farther south, that's one of their characteristics."
Curtiss said that by the time he returned to Kotzebue, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office had closed for the day, so he took the fish to a local grocery store and weighed it on a deli scale - making sure to save the price stickers printed out by the machine noting the weight of the fish.