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George Little: If you catch a record fish, don’t eat it right away

July 08, 2011 at 08:41 PM

If your goal is to catch the next world record largemouth bass, Illinois waters will be full of disappointment.

The Illinois state record largemouth bass tipped the scales at 13 pounds, 1 ounce. That’s nine pounds and change shy of the world record 22-pound, 4-ounce lunker George Perry caught in Georgia in 1932. Perry’s longstanding record has been tied, but never broken.

Illinois recognizes 48 state record species of fish. Considering the variety of state records and the abundance of fishing opportunities, landing a state record fish, at least on the surface, seems easier than harvesting the state record whitetail buck. After all, there’s only one species of deer.

According to, the largest state record fish is a 78-pound flathead catfish hauled out of Carlyle Lake. The smallest state record fish are a 1-pound, 10-ounce rock bass and a brown bullhead of the same weight. The longest-standing state record is a 48-pound buffalo caught in the Mississippi River in 1936.

It’s probably true that Illinois’ record fish are caught by sport fishermen and women more in search of recreation or a fish fry than they are a state record. After all, even George Perry caught the world record when he went fishing because it was too wet to plow and he was hoping to catch enough fish for supper.

It’s also possible some Illinois anglers have caught a state record fish and not known it, or not known the procedure for having it certified. I doubt many of us could guess the weight for the state record walleye, smallmouth bass or bluegill.

Should you land a fish that is bigger than anything you’ve ever caught before and think it might challenge a state record, the steps for getting it certified are very specific.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources regulations for entering a fish for a state record say, “A fish entered for a state record must be weighed on a scale certified for legal trade in front of two witnesses.”

In addition, the “fish must be kept intact until it has been certified.” If you have a state record challenger, contact DNR and find out exactly what that means.

A clear photograph must accompany the award application. The photograph should, if possible, include the proud angler. Better take more than one picture — the one you submit to DNR, along with the completed state record application, will not be returned. State record entries must be submitted to DNR no later than Jan. 30 to qualify for the previous year of fishing.

Getting your name in the record book isn’t as easy as it was for George Perry. He took his fish down to the general store, had it weighed and witnessed, may or may not have had a picture taken, then took his record bass home and had it for supper.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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