Michigan Angler Catches Freshwater Drum State Record

Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR.

When it comes to invasive fish species, the freshwater drum might not come to mind or turn any heads, but when a new record is set, its a whole new ball game.

Middleville, Mich., resident Mark Leep boated a 28.61-pound freshwater drum on Jan. 23 that measured 34.02 inches while spearfishing Michigan's Gun Lake, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed last Tuesday. The oversized drum quickly got folks attention by surpassing the previous state record set in 1973 by James Black's 26-pound, 37.5-inch catch on Muskegon Lake.

While the record is the largest in the state in 42 years, the real focus is on the presence of the species where it commonly isn't located.

"In Michigan, freshwater drum typically inhabit the Great Lakes or their tributaries. Based on the size of this fish, it found its way to Gun Lake several years ago, perhaps through illegal stocking, as there are limited connections to a large river system," the Michigan DNR said in a statement.

"Anglers are reminded that transferring fish from one water body to another is prohibited without an approved permit, because such transfers can disrupt the fish community in the receiving water through predation, competition with native species or introduction of new disease-causing organisms."

Make sure to do your homework before heading out for a day on the lake when it comes to what can and cannot be placed back into your favorite waterways. One way anglers can help stop the spread of invasive species is to always remember to throw away your live bait after each fishing session, instead of dumping it back into the water.

While the freshwater drum usually averages one to eight pounds, there are unusual cases. The IGFA freshwater drum world record belongs to Tennessee angler Benny Hull, who landed a massive 54.5-pound freshwater drum at Nickajack Lake in 1972.

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