7.16.2014

New Illinois State Record Smallmouth Bass - Sorta

I've heard about this rumor for a couple of days, but it wasn't until today that the story finally came out. It's a story that has me torn and apparently a story that has the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) torn as well.

The whole story can be read on my friend, Dale Bowman's, column in the Chicago Suntimes. I'll give you the summarized version....

Guy catches giant smallmouth bass, throws it on a stringer, brings it home to show his friends, and when he realizes that it's taking too much room in his freezer, he goes to put it in his friends freezer.  Before it was put in the freezer, his neighbor realizes that it could be a new state record so he breaks out his digital scale and it comes in at 8lbs 9oz (old record is 6lbs 7oz). At some point, the fish thaws out and turns to complete mush so they throw the fish away.

So here's the problem that the IDNR is having - Do we count this as a record when there was no IDNR witness?

Here's my thoughts on this - Seeing as how I am a pretty strict catch and release angler who absolutely hates seeing a sport fish go on a stringer and ultimately into the garbage, I am pissed off that this fish no longer swims in Lake Michigan for me, or others, to catch and enjoy. Not only isn't it swimming in Lake Michigan, it was completely wasted and not even eaten. It's like killing a deer and then throwing it in the dumpster on the way home. It served nothing and nobody despite being killed. Was it in his legal rights to keep the fish? Damn right it was but legal isn't always the "right" thing to do. So that part of me basically says kiss my butt on your record.

However, another part of me realizes that there is an opportunity here to change the way IDNR verifies record catches by following in the footsteps of the IGFA. Currently, you have to submit a specimen for examination to the IDNR. If I were to catch a state record fish under current rules, I wouldn't even bother because I wouldn't want to kill the fish for the sole sake of having a record. This is the IDNR's opportunity to adopt the IGFA's catch and release record guidelines and start implementing them. No longer will a fish have to be killed for the sole sake of a record.

In this case, the scale that was used to weigh this fish was indeed found to be accurate by the IDNR. There is a witness to the guy catching the fish and a witness to the readout of scale. More importantly, there is a photo of that fish. When I compare that photo to the 20" 4.5lb smallmouth that I caught from the same lake, I have no doubt that the potential record fish in the photo is bigger. The measurements that were taken definitely would add up using a known general weight to length/girth scale for bass.

So, in conclusion, despite my anger for the fish being destroyed and ultimately ending up in the trash, I vote to give the guy the record. I also implore the folks at the IDNR to truly take this opportunity to allow for catch and release fish to be considered for record status. Adopt the IGFA standards and adapt whatever you want to make sure it works for Illinois as a state. I can almost guarantee you that more records will be broken as result because I guarantee you that there a ton of catch and release anglers like myself that wouldn't enter a potential record fish under current guidelines because they prefer to see it swim away.

Update: As of July 17th, 2014, IDNR has denied the record. It still stands at 6lbs, 7oz

19 comments:

  1. Great post. Another option is put IFGA standards for a catch and release state record. Like a different state record category, One some would hold in higher regard because the fish is still swimming.

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  2. I would definitely be OK with a separate category but there has to be a better way than destroying a fish to get the overall state record. Just has to be.

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  3. There has to be standards and official verification or there will be cheaters, some people are dishonest it's just the way it is. Personally I prefer to release big fish and have no need to be in a record book, but taking 1 giant fish out of the system will do no harm to the lake
    --Isaac Mobley

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    1. I definitely get where you are coming from which is why I see this as an opportunity to rewrite the rules. It's been done on a bigger scale so I am sure it can be done on a state level. I still wish that fish was around for me to catch. The real stick of it is that the fish in question was almost undoubtedly full of eggs. It was caught right in the heard of spawning season.

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  4. Kayak Angler Magizine had a story three issues back about a guy who caught a record spotted bass on 2lb test, drove it to the certified scale in a cooler with water and a bubbler, got the record, and released the fish. It can be done. You just have to be ready. If you are in a bass boat it should be easy. Have a buddy meet you with a cooler and bubbler at the shore and get to a certified scale. Let me remind you, that guy was in a kayak and was able to do it.

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    1. I don't really disagree but I think records would be more accurate and regularly challenged if the rules were changed.

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    2. What a story. "You got that scale that reads in Kilos? I caught a giant fish, but the problem is my freezer has three inches of frost around the whole thing and Totino's Pizza Rolls were on sale last week, so the thing is packed solid and I had to throw the fish on the lawn. We should tell everyone we know about this..." The heavy weight so he can "feel the bottom with his 5lb Powerpro" WTF? The guy is trying so hard to sound like he knows what he is talking about and still tells this story!? Does he not understand the internet? People get death threats because they post a picture of themseves holding a bass from the lips without supporting the belly and this guy thinks a story about leaving a bass on his lawn will fly?

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    3. LOLOL

      Once again, can't disagree.

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  5. There are plenty of 'photos' of sasquatch too. I sure like the idea of a c&r category, but we all know it will never work. Fishermen are liars. Sad but true

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    1. It can work just not sure it can work on a weight basis. Length would be the only way that I can think of

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  6. My 14 lb Illinois largemouth just disintegrated last week too...can I have a record? Caught it on a pink kraken in 0.48 fow. I swear my fish grips from bass pro are within +/- 2 lbs. My 5 year old nephew witnessed it too.

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    1. Well there's your problem. You need to trade in those cheap Bass Pro grips and get some Lucid Grips. Then I'd get behind your record run! lol

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  7. I caught a Kentucky state record perch many years ago. It was recorded and then a couple of weeks later it was disqualified because it wasn't officially weighed in on a certified scale by the state biologist. I still feel like that record was ripped from my hands.

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    1. That would definitely suck, Kim. What did you do with the perch?

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  8. A couple of years ago I caught the Illinois state record creek chub out of a creek that feeds the Fox.
    I was so proud of myself, but I couldn't stand the idea of destroying such a beautiful fish just so I can puff up my chest in front of others and behave like the dominant chimp.

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    1. Yeah that part really sucks. Not killing a possible record is feasible if you have a boat with a livewell but for kayak and wading folks, it's pretty damn impossible

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    2. Not true if you have a cooler on stand by. Like I said dude in Georga did it. He caught a 5lb spottie on 2lb test giving his the state light tackle record. Caught the fish, weighed it, and released it. Hard, but not impossible.

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  9. I havent read of anybody talking about delayed mortality-a real condition that exists when your hauling fish around in coolers and live wells-many bass in tournaments die after being kept too long ot finally released by the shore---

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  10. There are many variables relating to fish mortality--water temp-air temp-time in the well and water circulation-not to mention the stress from being kept in an enclosed space for a time---

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