Feb 19, 2009

They're small but they're scrappy

I've noticed a recent trend in Illinois sport fishing. In the past year, youngsters have been taking over the record books, and they're doing it sneaky style. I'll start out with the least sneaky, in fact this story is quite normal.

Marcus Miller, 15 and shown above, caught his 4.52 lb (18.75 in long) hybrid crappie on May 14th, 2008 in his family's private Jefferson County farm pond. This fish was headed for the frying pan until Miller's grandpa convinced him he might have something special. Instead the slab was weighed and tested confirming it's status as an Illinois state record hybrid crappie. Miller's fish beat out the previous hybrid crappie record of 2.81 lb by a landslide. Also of note, this is the largest crappie of any kind caught in Illinois. The record black is 4.5 lb, the white weighed in at 4.43 lb. I've caught a 14.5 in crappie, having held that one I can't imagine one being 4 inches longer!

On April 24th, 2008 John Chione, 13, caught 6.71 lb silver redhorse, above, unseating the previous record of 6.63 lb. The next day, his brother Andrew Chione, 15, set a new record for shortnose redhorse with the 3.74 lb fish shown below. He destroyed the previous shortnose record of 2.16 lb (held by a 9 year old).

What is particularly sneaky about this is, while most people have never heard of these fish, Andrew and John knew their fish were records. My suspicion is the previous records were weak, and they somehow knew it. How else could they set two records in two days at the same spot? I would have tossed these back. Talk about being aware of your surroundings, I'm impressed.

And finally the one I believe to be the most sneaky, but the most awesome. On Nov 3rd, 2008 Jon Zettler, 18, got in a boat for the second time of his life and caught what appeared to be a 2.06 lb yellow bass at Rend Lake. The previous record for yellow bass was 2lb. Following genetic testing, it was discovered to actually be a yellow/white bass hybrid. The clarification in species was no problem for Jon's hopes of setting an Illinois state record because...wait for it...there is no other recorded catch of a yellow/white hybrid bass. The state has recognized Jon's fish as a state record. Most likely no one has ever had a reason for genetic testing, but Jon's apparent record yellow was just the motivation required to establish a new fish catagory. Because the yellow record remains at 2 lb (that was close) I think this record might be safe for a while, but then I read the record white is 4.8 lb and I think there is hope for the rest of us. Jon's ability to stay in the books might depend on our ability to distinguish a yellow from a hybrid.


  1. Clif, I'm curious about that "cat"fish you "caught" in your back yard last year. I'll bet, if you really tried, you would be able prove it was a record hybrid.


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