June 19, 2018
By Scott Bernarde
The 5-pound, 7.86-ounce crappie caught in May by Tennessee angler Lionel "Jam" Ferguson has been verified as the state's record black crappie, opening the door for it to be the next world record.
It's official: Tennessee may be the new home of the world-record black crappie.
Before the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced the news on Facebook Tuesday afternoon, angler Lionel "Jam" Ferguson was already running around the house celebrating.
"I got some news for you," Ferguson, 33, of Philadelphia, Tenn., told Game & Fish in a phone interview, also Tuesday. "The DNA test came back positive. It's a black crappie."
That's huge news in fishing circles.
"It's been a long four-and-a-half weeks since Lionel "Jam" Ferguson landed the big fish from a pond near Paint Rock, Tenn., but the final results have no doubt been worth the wait," TWRA said in a statement on Facebook. "This week, TWRA received verification from Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that Mr. Ferguson's fish is a pure strain black crappie without any hybrid genes and is being certified as the new state record."
The 5-pound, 7.86-ounce fish Ferguson caught May 15 in a pond near Paint Rock, is indeed a Tennessee black-crappie record, blasting the former record (4-4, caught in 1985) by more than a pound.
Pending certification by the International Game Fish Association, it may also be world record for the species. The current world-record black crappie is an even 5 pounds, caught in 2006 at a private lake in Missouri.
Ferguson said he heard the news Monday in a phone call from TWRA fisheries biologist John Hammonds, who initially verified the species after the catch, sent a fin clipping for genetic testing to be sure due the size of the fish. Hammonds wanted to rule out hybridization of the fish.
"It was a great phone call," Ferguson said. "I started hollering and running around the house,. Just smiling and hollering. ... All this attention has been blowing my mind. I'm just a regular fisherman who had a good day."
Next up for Ferguson is submitting an application to the IGFA for world-record consideration.
The TWRA said it will assist Ferguson in the application process.
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