The smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) goes by many nicknames — smallie, bronzeback, brownie, and brown bass, to name a few. Many anglers go their whole lives and don't ever hook into one of true, trophy-caliber size, but for one Michigan angler, that just isn't the case anymore. By a long shot.
On Sunday, Oct. 18, Greg Gasiciel hooked and landed, what is now the new Michigan smallmouth bass record taken on a rod and reel.
"Gasiciel was bait-casting with a green grub when he landed a 9.33-pound, 24.50-inch smallmouth bass record," the state said in a release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
"The previous state record for smallmouth bass was set back in 1906 with a 9.25-pound, 27.25-inch fish taken from Long Lake in Cheboygan County," the Michigan DNR said.
The smallmouth bass record in Michigan has stood since 1906. What a dream-come-true and outstanding accomplishment for a dedicated angler.
In Michigan, fish records are set by weight, not length and before your catch can be declared a new record, it needs to be verified by DNR staff.
David Hayes' celebrated 5.41 kg (11 lb 15 oz) All-Tackle world record smallmouth bass has seen its share of controversy over the years. Hayes caught his record fish on July 9, 1955 while trolling a lure in Dale Hollow Reservoir, Tennessee — without a doubt the most famed body of water for producing massive smallmouth bass.
In fact, the three heaviest smallmouth ever recorded have come from Dale Hallow! Hayes' catch held the All-Tackle title for 41 years, despite swirling rumors throughout the angling community denouncing his catch.
These rumors, coupled with an affidavit stating that the dock owner added lead weight to the catch (unbeknownst to Hayes), resulted in the temporary ousting of Hayes' record. During this time, John Gorman's 10 lb 14 oz smallmouth on April 24, 1969 while fishing the same location (Dale Hollow Reservoir, Tennessee) held the All-Tackle title. However, nine years later, it was proven through multiple polygraph tests that the sworn affidavit that denounced the legitimacy of Hayes' smallmouth, had been falsified.
Thus, returning the All-Tackle title to Hayes and retiring Gorman's trophy — which still holds the title of the second heaviest smallmouth ever submitted to the IGFA, even though it is not a current record. Despite the controversy surrounding Hayes' smallmouth, it has withstood the test of time — and quite a few polygraphs, too.
In 2001, angler Terry Dodson made angling headlines for the world record smallmouth he pulled from Lake Jocassee, which is located in far northwest section of South Carolina and very close to the North Carolina border.
On the morning of May 3, 2001, Dodson was fishing with a friend on his own boat, when the diving plug he was casting suddenly got crushed. After a relatively quick 5 minute fight, Dodson's friend was able to net the fish.
The fish was officially weighed-in at 9 lb 6 oz and has held the men's 12 lb line class record ever since.
More than 30 years after Hayes' historical catch, Dale Hollow produced once again on April 14, 1986 in the form of a 10 lb 8 oz smallmouth, caught by local angler Paul E. Beal. The story goes that Beal was sharing a houseboat with some friends and family, and on the morning of the 14th he got left behind to do the dishes while his buddies snuck off to go fishing. Angry that he was left cleaning up after everyone, Beal decided to 'cool-down ' by going fishing with his dad.
Not long after the plastic grub he was casting hit the water, Beal came tight on the trophy smallmouth. After a 15 minute fight on 8 lb test and no leader, Beal boated the fish which bottomed-out his 10 lb scale. Knowing he had something special, Beal immediately headed for the docks for an official weighing. The catch was documented well and soon after made headlines as the third heaviest smallmouth ever, and the new men's 8 lb line class world record.
But that doesn't mean the catch wasn't controversial. Dale Hollow is bisected by the Tennessee/Kentucky border. According to Beal, the fish was caught in Tennessee, but weighed in Kentucky. This has created a feud between the two states, who both want to claim ownership for this monumental catch — and understandably so.
Dr. E. Scott Yarbo
Dr. E. Scott Yarbro braved the snow flurries and strong winds on the morning of March 11, 1998, and ventured out to Pickwick Lake, located in Counce, Tennessee. Later that morning, while casting a 4 inch Harville Shad on a 3/8 oz jig head, Yarbro hooked into a fish that put his 6 lb tackle to the test.
Nearly 10 minutes after coming tight, Yarbro had the 'biggest smallmouth he'd ever seen ' on his boat. Realizing they had something special, Yarbro and his friend immediately called it a day and headed straight to a local store for an official weigh-in, where it tipped the scales at an impressive 8 lb 9 oz.
Soon after, Yarbro's fish was granted the men's 6 lb line class record, which it still holds today.
One of the reasons why smallmouth bass are such a popular gamefish is because anyone can catch them. Unlike a musky or a marlin that can overpower young or inexperienced anglers — smallmouth are sized appropriately to accommodate all anglers, while still requiring finesse and skill.
Angler Michael Fillette was only eight years old when he caught a fish that most smallmouth junkies would die for — a 5 lb 12 oz fish that he pulled from Lake Erie in New York on May 18, 2009. The young Fillette needed around 8 minutes to subdue the fish after inhaled the live shiner he was fishing.
Not only does Fillette hold the Male-Smallfry record, he is also the youngest angler to hold a record on smallmouth bass.
While John Herrick's 6 lb 12 oz smallmouth bass is certainly not the largest specimen ever caught by an angler, it is the largest smallmouth bass record ever caught on fly tackle that has been submitted to the IGFA.
Herrick was fishing Minnesota's Basswood Lake on August 30, 1997 when he caught his record smallmouth. The fish ate a white rabbit strip fly and tested Herrick's tackle and whits for nearly 20 minutes before he could finally boat the fish.
The catch soon became the men's 20 lb tippet class record after it was officially weighed-in and submitted to the IGFA.
When it comes to catching trophy smallmouth on ultra-light tackle, that title belongs to multiple record holder Herbert Ratner. On the morning of June 2, 1997 while fishing a live minnow on the Tennessee side of Pickwick Lake, Ratner skillfully played a 7 lb smallmouth on straight 2 lb tackle (no leader) for nearly 20 minutes, before he could subdue the fish.
As if that wasn't impressive enough, Ratner was also able to properly document the fish on the shoreline and then release it alive. And not only does Ratner own this impressive record, he also holds the 2 lb fly tippet record for smallmouth bass with a 5 lb 8 oz fish he caught in 2000.
Before the IGFA decided to split the freshwater line class and fly tippet world records into men's and women's categories (to make the program consistent with the saltwater counterpart), angler Pamela Kinsey McClelland was the only woman to hold a smallmouth bass record.
McClelland caught a 6 lb 4 oz smallmouth on August 12, 1995 while fly fishing on Pine Lake, Michigan with her friend, her husband, and her dog. McClelland — who was visiting Michigan from her home in Washington D.C. - needed 10 minutes to land the trophy smallmouth after it ate the red and white streamer fly she was casting.
The catch as held the distinction of the heaviest smallmouth caught on 16 lb fly tippet for nearly 20 years.
Although smallmouth bass gained their popularity in North America, their reach is not limited to the US and Canada alone. After being introduced in locations around the world, several international locations are producing world-class sized smallmouth.
On June 8, 2013, Japanese angler Ichiro Nagai, M.D. became the first angler to catch a world record smallmouth bass outside of North America. Nagai caught his 5 lb 9 oz smally while fly fishing Japan's Lake Inawashiro.
Nagai needed only a few minutes to subdue the catch, which soon after became the heaviest smallmouth ever caught on 8 lb fly tippet.
Terrell D. Nail
The men's 16 lb line class record has belonged to Terrell D. Nail since he pulled an 8 lb 6 oz smallmouth from Alabama's Pickwick Lake on January 4, 1988. But unlike the other anglers in this list, Nail was fishing with a live shad — rather than a jig — when he hooked his world record. The fish put up a tough 8-10 minute fight before it could be subdued and landed.
An interesting fact about Nail's record fish is that it was originally submitted for a 12 lb line class record, because that was what he was using at the time. Had the line tested accurately, his catch would have never been listed as world record because the 12 lb line class record was a couple ounces heavier at the time.
However, because the 12 lb Berkley Trilene XT line he was using tested out at 16.8 lb — his catch was placed in the 16 lb category and became the new world record.