Big Fish Fridays: Record sunfish
Want a record fish?
Chances are slim you can set out to catch a state record largemouth bass or muskie. Odds are much more in your favor when it comes to smaller sunfish.
Several of Illinois’ 13 native sunfish species have no entry on the state record list. That includes the longear sunfish (pictured above), redspotted sunfish and orangespotted sunfish.
Registering a record is relatively easy. One key is to weigh your fish as soon as possible on a certified scale in front of two witnesses. Get several pictures. And measure the length and girth of the fish.
All that information must be recorded on a form that you submit to the Department of Natural Resources.
There are also junior angler awards for youngsters under 16 who catch their first Illinois fish. And there are several other award categories for Catch and Release, Big Fish, Master Angler and Grand Slam awards.
Click here for information and forms for all award categories or call (217) 782-6424.
There’s a new record fish in Illinois.
Genetic testing has confirmed that the fish caught by “Chef Todd” Kent of Peoria on July 21 at the Emiquon Preserve was indeed a pure pumpkinseed. The fish measured 7 3/4 inches long, had a 7.5-inch girth and weighed 0.41 pounds.
Kent, who caught the pumpkinseed on an orange-and-yellow jig, was excited after learning news of his record.
“Dude, when do I get my plaque?” he asked. “Now it’s time to go out and get that record longear (sunfish).”
No previous entry was on the books for pumpkinseed, a native sunfish found in a few scattered locations around Illinois. Prime public pumpkinseed destinations include the Emiquon Preserve, the Mississippi River (particularly Potter’s Marsh), the Illinois River above Starved Rock, Little Sister Lake in the Fulton County Camping and Recreation Area (with a fish from there pictured below), Mount Olive New City Lake and the Fox Chain O’ Lakes.
Click here for another account of Kent’s quest to set the pumpkinseed record, which incidentally came while I was also in the boat.
Pumpkinseed are members of the sunfish family and are found in most states.
The world record pumpkinseed weighed 2 pounds, 4 ounces and was caught in South Carolina on the North Saluda River in 1997 by Scitt Hart of Greenville, S.C.
Pumpkinseeds prefer shallow water with some weed cover, which is abundant in Emiquon.
Pumpkinseeds also reproduce rapidly and eat a variety of insects, including mosquito larvae, along with small molluscs and crustaceans. They also feed on smaller fish, including smaller pumpkinseeds.