If youve been fishing Ohios waterways this summer in hopes of catching that monster fish, youll be encouraged to know that a state record fish may be lurking in your favorite fishing hole.
Each spring, state fish biologists conduct in-water studies to gauge the health of several Ohio waterways. And, their research reveals that potential state record fish are swimming in many of Ohios most popular fishing spots. So, that big fish you had hooked and got away, just might have been a trophy!
Earlier this year, while doing netting surveys, we recorded a 13.5-pound saugeye in Alum Creek Lake. This fish would have broken the state record had it been caught by an angler, said Ray Petering, a fisheries biologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The current state record saugeye was caught in 1993 and weighed in at 12.42 pounds.
Biologists use a variety of fish sampling techniques when conducting their studies, such as electro-shocking and trap-netting. Every year we see some very large fish often close to state record size, said Petering.
Ohio has seen a substantial increase in the number of new record fish over the past 10 years, with 20 different fish species taking claim to the state title.
The Outdoor Writers of Ohio keeps track of record fish caught in the state, including a list of 41 species. Tom Cross, chairman of the organization's Record Fish Committee, is enthusiastic about his responsibility. I love this job! Cross said. It gives me the chance to talk to some of the best or luckiest anglers in Ohio, he said.
Cross said there are important steps every angler must take in order for a his or her potential record fish to be considered. Number one is to get that thing weighed on a certified digital scale as soon as possible and get a print out of the weight, said Cross. The angler also needs witnesses and must be able to provide their names and addresses."
One Lake Erie angler recently found out just how important it is to follow Cross advice. The angler waited two days before having his 15-plus pound walleye properly weighed, and by that time it was impossible to determine the fishs original weight. The current state record walleye was caught in Lake Erie and weighed in at 16.19 pounds.
The five-member Record Fish Committee reviews each application and supporting documentation, including photographs, certified weight slip and statement from a fisheries biologist with the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Tom Cross, with Outdoor Writers of Ohio, can be reached by calling (937) 386-2752. The committee is currently reviewing a potential state record green sunfish that was caught this summer weighing .89 pounds.
For a fish to qualify as a record catch, it must be legally caught on a rod and reel, Cross added. There are fishing regulations against snagging certain fish, and no fish under consideration can be gigged.
The most recent record fish certified in Ohio was a 17.68-pound hybrid striped bass caught at Deer Creek Lake in May. Last years record catches include a 12.62-pound longnose gar and 20.49-pound lake trout. A list of current state record fish is available on the ODNR Web site at www.dnr.state.oh.us.
According to Cross, fishing records reflect that no one spot in Ohio seems to be more prone to record-size fish than another. Theyve been caught all over the state, he said. You never know whats beneath the surface. Any water hole can have a record fish.
So, this summer when youre fishing, remember -- that fish you hook could get your name in the record book.