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Charles Starritt’s smallmouth bass caught in 1914, restored to original condition. Photos courtesy of Bruce Starritt.

100-year-old fish still trying to make history

October 03, 2013 at 12:02 PM

The State Journal-Register


Too bad we can’t travel back in time to check out this fish story.

If true, it might have involved a state-record smallmouth bass caught in a pond in northern Illinois almost a century ago.

Bruce Starritt of Rockford sent in pictures of a smallmouth bass head that was mounted to a walnut board.

“The smallmouth bass was caught by my grandfather on July 7, 1914,” he said. “The fish weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces, and the catch location was Terra Cotta Pond just outside Crystal Lake in McHenry County.”



Starritt found a faded label attached to the back of the walnut mounting board.

The information was typed on lined paper with credit for the catch going to Charles W. Starritt Sr.

“Unfortunately, there is no additional documentation other than the old deteriorated label taped on the back of the walnut board to which the head is attached,” he said. “A local taxidermist did a restoration of the head for me in 2003 and I retyped the old label information and added an additional label expanding the information I knew.”

Starritt said the mount was almost thrown out in the 1960s, but was rescued from the trash.


The mount before restoration.

In 2003, the fish was cleaned and re-stuffed.

The fish also received new paint, fin replacement and restoration and resetting of the original glass eyes.

Willis Laymon, restored the mount.

Unfortunately, there is no way to find out if the fish really was a state record.

The current record is 6 pounds, 7 ounces, well short of the 9 pounds, 8 ounces stated on the label.

Mark Samp caught the current record-holder in a Fulton County strip mine lake in 1985.

“State records have to weighed on a certified scale in front of two witnesses that aren’t related to the angler,” said Dan Stephenson, assistant chief of fisheries for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “It appears to be an incredible fish but there is no way I know of to grant it a state record. It wouldn’t be fair to others.”

Chris Young can be reached at 341-8487 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him at twitter.com/ChrisYoungPSO.

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