COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Lenten season might have you thinking about a fried fish meal, but one record-breaking fish in particular has caught some attention for other reasons.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife says a smallmouth bass caught in the Ontario, Canada waters of Lake Erie in November 2022 was a 16-year-old female, weighing in at a whopping 10.15-pounds.
The previous Ontario record, a 9.84-pound bass, was caught in 1984. Ohio’s current smallmouth bass record is a 9.5-pound fish, according to ODNR.
ODNR says Gregg Gallagher, of Fremont, caught the 10.15-pound smallmouth bass while fishing in Ontario provincial waters of Lake Erie on November 3, 2022.
The new Ontario record was weighed soon after the catch on a certified scale in Port Clinton, then transferred to the Division of Wildlife’s Sandusky Fisheries Research Station for species identification validation and measurements – 23¾ inches in length and 19⅜ inches in girth.
But how does ODNR know the fish’s age? After sampling the record bass, the department determined it to be a 16-year-old female that was hatched in 2006. They aged the fish by analyzing its otoliths, inner-ear structures that develop annuli much like the rings on a tree.
ODNR says it’s rare for a smallmouth bass to exceed 14 years of age.
Smallmouth bass hang around rocky humps or points along island or mainland shorelines of Lake Erie, as well as offshore reefs and break walls around marinas or river mouths, according to ODNR.
Smallmouth bass spawn in late spring.
The public is invited to visit a state fish hatchery for free open houses starting March 25 to learn more about their operations and purpose.
The Division of Wildlife operates six state fish hatcheries, which raised and stocked more than 52 million fish in 2022.
Hatchery open houses are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the following locations:
- Saturday, March 25: St. Marys State Fish Hatchery, 01735 Feeder Rd, St. Marys, 45885
- Saturday, April 1: Hebron State Fish Hatchery, 10517 Canal Rd SE, Hebron, 43025
- Saturday, April 1: Senecaville State Fish Hatchery, 57199 Senecaville Dam Rd, Senecaville, 43780
- Saturday, April 15: Castalia State Fish Hatchery, 7018 Homegardner Rd, Castalia, 44824
- Saturday, April 15: Kincaid State Fish Hatchery, 7487 St. Rt. 124, Latham, 45646
- Saturday, May 6: London State Fish Hatchery, 2570 Roberts Mill Rd, London, 43140
The current fishing regulations can be found on ODNR’s site here or on the HuntFish OH app or locations where fishing licenses are sold.