Two high-profile fishing records — for black crappie and walleye — were shattered during the first week of May, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
In the case of Brian Hartman's record 18-pound, 2-ounce walleye, it came on the opening day of the season (May 5), according to the New York DEC.
Hartman's huge walleye caught on a swimbait from the St. Lawrence River broke the previous record (caught in 2009) by more than a pound-and-a-half. The New York walleye season runs May 5 to March 15.
Walleye are found in every major watershed and are considered one of the most prized gamefish in New York
On the next day, May 6, William Wightman, of South Dayton, beat the 20-year-old black crappie record with his 4-pound, 1-ounce fish, which bested the previous mark by five ounces.
Wightman caught the crappie with a black marabou jig at Lake Flavia in Cattargus County.
Black crappie, also known as strawberry bass or calico bass in New York, are found throughout the state in clear, quiet lakes, ponds, and rivers where vegetation is abundant.
"High quality fishing opportunities abound across New York and announcing two record-breaking catches is the perfect way to kick-start the 2018 freshwater fishing season," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos in a news alert about the records. "It's remarkable that anglers broke these records back-to-back over a single weekend and from water bodies in different regions of the state. I encourage anglers to share their notable catches with DEC this year on social media and through our Angler Achievement Awards Program."
The Angler Achievement Awards Program allows anglers to enter freshwater fish that meet specific qualifying criteria and receive official recognition of their catch and a distinctive lapel pin commemorating the achievement. Three categories make up the program: Catch & Release, Annual Award, and State Record.
The recent record catches are the first two of 2018 in New York. Last year, state records were set for channel catfish (35-3) and freshwater drum (36-0).
To compare, the current world-record walleye weighed 25-0 (Old Hickory Lake, Tenn., 1960); the world-record black crappie weighed 5-0 (Missouri private lake, 2006), according to International Game Fish Association data. Note: A 5-pound, 7.86-ounce black crappie recently caught in Tennessee is now a pending world record.
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