Fly fishing rod

New state record Cusk landed in New Hampshire

On the evening of Jan. 13, 2022, New Hampshire angler Ryan Ashley caught a cusk lunker while ice fishing at Lake Winnipesaukee, which put his name in the record books. Cusk, also known as burbot, weighed 12 pounds and 8.48 ounces. It was nearly three feet long and has already been certified by New Hampshire Fish and Game as a new state record. Ashley caught the impressive specimen while fishing with his cousin Paul Tasker, Jr. at what they call “heaven spot.”

Paul Paradise was a family friend who died two years ago. Ashley says her grandfather, who served as the first chief of New Hampshire Fish and Game, died when Ashley was young. So Paradise, who was Ashley’s grandfather’s best friend, taught her how to hunt, trap and fish. “He practically introduced me to the outdoors,” says Ashley F&S. “It was an emotional moment to pull a state record out of his place. I wish I could have seen his face. I know he would have been grinning from ear to ear.

Ashley caught the state record tusk while fishing with her cousin, Paul Tasker Jr., pictured (left). ryan ashley

Ashley says he caught the record fish around 9 p.m. on the 13th. He was using a 28-inch HT Enterprises Fast Stix Extreme DX ice spinning combo spooled with 6-pound test line. He had caught two or three smaller tusks before something big took his AJ’s Custom Tackle swim pole. “It was like boom, let’s go,” Ashley recalled. The fish immediately started pulling the drag and Ashley worried that it would wrap it up. Eventually he was able to stop the fish and slowly start pumping it. In total, Ashley says the fight lasted about 15 minutes. And when he finally brought Cusk through the ice fishing hole, Ashley says he immediately knew it had the potential to be a new state record. “It was amazing,” he says. “I never thought I’d catch [the state record]. When I grabbed the fish with both hands by the head, my two hands were easily inserted into its mouth.

Ashley and her friends regularly target cusk on New Hampshire lakes. Ashley says the cod-like fish is “poor man’s lobster” and one of the best to eat. It typically uses the white, flaky flesh of the fish for chowder. But Ashley won’t eat her state record 35 inches. He plans to bring it up and donate the rest of the fish remains to New Hampshire Fish and Game for analysis by agency biologists.

scaled tusk
New Hampshire Fish and Game has already confirmed Ashley’s record. ryan ashley

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Ashley is a dedicated ice fisherman, and despite catching a record sized fish, he continued to fish with Tasker Jr. for a few more hours that night. He says one of the best parts of the whole experience was catching the record-breaking fish in the same spot where he learned to fish and took his two-year-old daughter to catch her first rainbow trout. sky. His next goal as a fisherman is to catch a lake trout over 20 pounds. “Ice fishing is what I do,” he says. “I started doing it when I was three, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.”