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DNA Needed to Determine N.Y. State-Record Pumpkinseed

Caught while ice-fishing in January, the fish had characteristics of two species.

DNA Needed to Determine N.Y. State-Record Pumpkinseed

Jordan Tontarski with the 1-pound, 9-ounce state-record (tie) pumpkinseed he caught from Black River, Jefferson on January 26, 2020. (Photo courtesy of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

New York angler Jordan Tontarski knew he had a trophy panfish when he caught it through the ice in January on the Black River near Watertown. But it took months—and DNA testing—to determine exactly what species it was.

Was it a pumpkinseed or a bluegill?

Tontarski thought the 1-pound, 9-ounce fish might be a contender in the New York State Winter Classic Fishing Tournament so he had it officially weighed.

The fish had the physical features of both pumpkinseed and bluegill, and which species it was still wasn't determined even after state biologists examined it.


"Seeking a final answer, he drove his mystery sunfish across the state to Albany for identification by ichthyologists at the New York State Museum," the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said in a news release.


Results from the DNA test came in recently and concluded the fish was a pure pumpkinseed, meaning the catch tied the state record for the species that was set in 1994 (R. Kennard Mosher, Indian Lake, Hamilton County). By the way, the state record for bluegill is 2 pounds, 8 ounces.

"It took some time, but I want to personally congratulate Jordan Tontarski, the angler who caught the pumpkinseed last winter in Jefferson County, tying a state record set 25 years ago," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in the news release. "New York has some of the most outstanding year-round angling opportunities in the nation and we encourage residents and visitors alike to enjoy this relaxing and family-friendly sport.”

Tontarski's catch is the third N.Y. state record set in 2020, joining Morgan Fonzi's 3-8 white bass caught May 6 from the Lower Niagara River, and Jason Leusch's 2-pound rock bass caught May 24 from Port Bay in Wayne County.

More info state records in New York


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