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Entries in state record (24)

Wednesday
Jan102018

Florida Shoal Bass Record Broken Again

The Florida shoal bass record has been broken once again, this time by a 14-year-old angler from Alabama.

Fishing from a kayak, Sheldon Grace caught the 5.95-pound trophy  in the Chipola River.

“I fought him for about 30 minutes and then when I got him close to the kayak, the jig popped right out of his mouth,” said Grace. “I quickly reached into the water and grabbed him because he was the biggest I’d caught all day.”

In 2016, Jimmy Ray Tice claimed the previous record with a 5.2-pound fish, the fourth in little more than a year to be taken in the Apalachicola River.

But it is the Chipola, a tributary of the Apalachicola, that seems most likely to produce bragging-size bass in the near future. Starting in 2006, three low-water years produced big year classes that are now moving into and past the 5-pound range, with the stretch below Marianna typically the best.

“You can definitely tell that the quality and quantity of the shoal bass in the Chipola River are getting better,” said Grace, who often fishes there with his father. “I had caught about six or seven 2- to 3-pounders and then right at the end of the day, I caught the record.”

Additionally, the Chipola, a spring-fed system with a unique range of habitats, is the only fishery in Florida with a population of naturally reproducing, genetically pure shoal bass, a species that Steven Sammons of Auburn University's School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences ranks at the top for stream fishing.

"I used to think smallmouth bass were the ultimate river bass, but shoal bass have completely changed my mind," he said. "They grow faster, consistently reach larger sizes, and may be the most aggressive black bass we have."

The biologist who also is an avid angler said shoal bass "set up like salmon or trout. They are not behind a rock or in an eddy. They set up in that fast water, the first big drop in a shoal."

Thursday
Dec072017

Montana's Fort Peck Producing Big Smallies, Including State Record

In the Great Lakes states, smallmouth bass seem to be growing to record sizes by gorging on round gobies, an exotic species. Out West, they seem to be doing much the same thing by feeding on cisco (lake herring), likewise a nonnative species, at Montana's Fort Peck Reservoir.

At least that's the theory proposed by Mike Dominick in late September, after he caught a state record smallie. On a certified scale, it checked in at 7.51-pounds, besting the old mark of 7.4 caught last year by Jacob Fowler at Flathead Lake.

Dominick said that he's consistently caught smallmouths stuffed full of cisco, citing one trip when he caught five fish of more than 6 pounds each and another when he and a companion caught 30 topping 3 pounds each in 1 1/2 hours from the same spot.

"They've got the perfect recipe for growing them, as long as the bait keeps up. I think an 8-pounder will be caught next year," he said, adding that his fish could have been that large had it been caught in the spring, when it likely would be laden with eggs.

And he's surprised that walleye anglers haven't taken a record from the eastern Montana fishery yet. State record is 17.75 pounds caught in 2007 at Tiber Reservoir.

Incredibly, Dominick's trophy, which he released, is just a little more than a pound shy of the state record largemouth, an 8.8-pound specimen caught at Roxon Rapids Reservoir in 2009.

The Montana angler hooked the smallmouth along a submerged rocky ridge with a drop-shot rig on 8-pound test.

"It tried to jump twice, but it was too big," he told the Billings Gazette. "It just stuck its nose out of the water and wallowed around. It was ungodly fat, just an impressive fish."

A serious bass fisherman who drives 9 1/2 hours to fish Fort Peck, he was particularly pleased that his fish tops the current record, caught by casual angler Jacob Fowler from a  Flathead Lake dock, using bait.

"I've been working two years for that fish," Dominick said. "I thought that record was breakable.

"But whether Fish and Game accepts it or not, that's okay. It was the most impressive one I've seen in Montana."

Tuesday
Nov212017

Florida Shoal Bass Record Broken . . . Again

A 14-year-old angler from Alabama now owns the latest Florida shoal bass record, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).  

Sheldon Grace of Headland, Ala., caught the 5.95-pound fish while kayak fishing on the Chipola River near Altha. It measured 22.4 inches long.

“I fought him for about 30 minutes and then when I got him close to the kayak, the jig popped right out of his mouth,” said Sheldon. “I quickly reached into the water and grabbed him because he was the biggest I’d caught all day.”

Sheldon and his father often fish for shoal bass, one of the five black bass species in Florida.

“You can definitely tell that the quality and quantity of the shoal bass in the Chipola River are getting better,” said Sheldon. “I had caught about six or seven 2- to 3-pounders and then right at the end of the day, I caught the record.”

The former state record shoal bass weighed 5.20 pounds and was caught in 2016 by Jimmy Ray Tice on the Apalachicola River.

The Chipola River is a spring-fed system with a unique range of habitats and is the only water body in Florida with is a population of naturally reproducing, genetically pure shoal bass. The FWC has implemented several conservation projects to enhance this unique fishery. A video highlighting the charm of the Chipola River and the partnerships forged to protect it can be viewed on YouTube by searching “FWC Chipola River.”

To properly certify a new Florida state record, a FWC biologist must identify the fish species and witness its weighing on a certified scale. Anglers can check current state records at BigCatchFlorida.com by clicking on “State Record,” and should notify the nearest FWC regional office if they believe they have caught a record fish. Contact information for FWC regional offices can be found at MyFWC.com/Contact by clicking on “Contact Regional Offices.”

The FWC recognizes other memorable freshwater catches through its Big Catch program, which provides certificates commemorating trophy catches of 33 different freshwater species. Largemouth bass catches are recognized by the TrophyCatch program, which is a citizen-science program that partners with industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops, to offer rewards for the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier.

Wednesday
Oct182017

Possible State Record Smallmouth Caught In Montana

Mike Dominick caught this 7.51-pound smallmouth bass Sept. 23 on Montana's Fort Peck Reservoir and weighed on a certified scale. Likely state will recognize it as state record, surpassing 7.4-pounder caught in 2016 at Flathead Lake.

“I think an 8-pounder will be caught next year,” he said, noting that the fish he caught would be about 8 pounds if it was full of eggs during the spawn.

Fort Peck could easily produce that next big bass, he believes. On his last trip he caught five fish over 6 pounds. One trip he and another angler caught 30 smallmouth over 3 pounds in an hour-and-a-half and never moved the boat. The reason the fish are so beefy is the large baitfish population. He’s seen bass stuffed full of cisco, an introduced species also known as lake herring.

“They’ve got the perfect recipe for growing them, as long as the bait keeps up,” Dominick said.

Friday
Mar312017

You Just Never Know . . . 

While fishing for bass with a swim jig on Lake Kinkaid, Ryan Povoloish just caught this Illinois state record for crappie. It weighed 4 pounds, 8.8 ounces, surpassing the old mark of 4.5 set in 1976 on Rend Lake.

Back in 1992, Barry St. Clair caught this state record largemouth bass on Lake Fork while fishing for crappie with a shiner. It weighed 18.18 pounds. It's officially the only Texas bass to top 18 pounds.

When you go fishing, you just never know what you'll catch. That's one of the many reasons we go fishing. It's also one of the many reasons that I wrote Why We Fish. Here's an excerpt:

"Sadly, the snook weren’t biting. But a tarpon was. It ate my jig, nearly yanked the rod out of my hand, and then rocketed toward deep water. All I could do was hold on. I knew that I couldn’t stop the fish, no matter how skillfully I played it. I waded out into the water as far as I dared, knowing as I did so that it was a pointless gesture.

"But then the miraculous occurred, just as I looked down at my reel to see all of the line gone except for the knot."