Ohio anglers have plenty of opportunities to become record holders if catching the largest specimen of one of the 47 types of fish recorded by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, an organization of outdoor communicators in charge of the record book, is their mission.
All it takes is fishing skill, determination, focus, an investment of money and/or time, or just plain, good old-fashioned luck.
There is seldom a year when one or more Ohio fish records aren’t broken. This year, two records have fallen with several months of the fishing season left.
On April 22, 2012, Kevin Shanks of Bellbrook, Ohio, caught a longear sunfish weighing a whopping .41 of a pound or about 6 1/2 ounces, just enough heft to displace the existing record longear sunfish that tipped the scales at .2 pound or just over three ounces. That fish held title since 2004.
Shanks’ record fish measures 8 inches in length and 8 inches in girth, a chubby pan fish by any standard. He caught his state record sunfish in a gravel pit in Greene County.
Of the 47 fish species in the record book, six are sunfish including longear, green, hybrid, pumpkinseed, redear, and warmouth.
Since so many fish species are nearly identical, Division of Wildlife fish biologists must examine each applicant to verify its identity and the fish must be weighed on certified scales.
A second Ohio state record fell July 14, 2012, when Robert Campbell of Pennsylvania landed a 14.675-pound brown trout that displaced the existing brown trout record of 14.65 pounds by just a fraction of an ounce. Campbell was part of a Lake Erie walleye charter group fishing out of Geneva State Park marina.
Interestingly, the only determination for state fish records is weight. The new brown trout state record is actually shorter than the existing trout.
Ohio’s Lake Erie is not known for brown trout. And except for a trial stocking of browns a couple decades back, these great game fish are not stocked here at all. Campbell’s fish was likely a wandering fish from a neighboring state caught by happenstance.
Central basin Lake Erie trollers fishing these same waters have also caught several coho salmon this summer. Like brown trout, salmon are not native and are not stocked in Ohio.
The previous record longear sunfish held top honors for eight years and the previous brown trout record held court since 1995.
Some record fish hold their spot for decades while others fall in months. A rock bass of nearly two pounds has held its spot in the books since 1932 and several fish caught in the 1960s remain unchallenged.