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12-Year-Old Catches Record-Breaking Fish

Freshwater drum breaks previous state record by more than 3 pounds and is New York's first record fish established for 2016

12-Year-Old Catches Record-Breaking Fish
12-Year-Old Catches Record-Breaking Fish

Amelia Whalen stands with her father who holds
the record-breaking fish, a 29-pound 14-ounce
freshwater drum. (Photo courtesy of The Fishing Wire)

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that Amelia Whalen of Witherbee caught a record breaking freshwater drum from Lake Champlain in Essex County on June 4, 2016. The fish measured 36.5 inches and weighed 29 pounds 14 ounces, breaking the previous state record set in 2014 by more than 3 pounds.

"This state record is just another example of the great fishing opportunities New York has to offer, even for lesser known species such as the freshwater drum," said Commissioner Seggos. "No matter what time of year, angling possibilities in this state are endless, and I congratulate Amelia on her accomplishment, which is quite a feat for any angler, let alone a 12-year-old."

Freshwater drum, also referred to as "sheepshead," primarily dwell in large rivers and lakes. Their pronounced blunt head make them easily identifiable. With numerous small round teeth made for crushing, drum feed mostly on freshwater snails, clams and crayfish. When hooked, drum are known to put up a good fight. For more information on this unique fish species, visit DEC's website.

Amelia, who caught the drum with a Lazer Blade lure, submitted details of her winning catch as part of DEC's Angler Achievement Awards Program, which verifies and tracks state record fish. Through this program, anglers can enter freshwater fish that meet specific qualifying criteria and receive official recognition of their catch and a distinctive lapel pin commemorating their achievement. The three categories that make up the program are: Catch & Release, Annual Award and State Record.


"It was a phenomenal memory that I'll always have reeling in the monstrous sheepshead that day," Amelia said. "I was unimaginably surprised when my dad told me that it was definitely going to break the record."


A photo of the record fish can be found on the New York State Freshwater Fishing Records page on DEC's website. For more information about the Angler Achievement Awards Program, including a downloadable application form, go to DEC's website. Program details and an official entry form can also be found in DEC's current Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide. For additional information on the Angler Achievement Awards Program call (518) 402-8891 or email fwfish@dec.ny.gov.

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