November 07, 2022
Gregg Gallagher's goal during a last-minute fishing trip with his son on Lake Erie was to "catch a giant smallmouth bass, 7 pounds or better."
Check and check.
The huge smallmouth caught Nov. 3 was not only a personal-best for Gallagher, it was likely the largest smallie ever caught in a Great Lake, pending certification, incredibly weighing in at more than 10 pounds. The behemoth should break the 68-year-old smallmouth record for the province of Ontario, Canada, as well as bettering the Ohio state record.
Gallagher, whose first-person account of the record catch was posted during the weekend on sister publication In-Fisherman, said the fish weighed 10.15 pounds and measured 23 3/4 inches long.
The for-now Ontario smallmouth record is a 9.84-pound fish caught by Any Anderson in September 1954 at Birchbark Lake, near Kinmount, Ont. The Ohio record is held by Randy VanDam, with a 9.5-pounder on Lake Erie in June of 1993.
Gallagher said he and his son, Grant, both teachers, had a "surprise day off due to fog" on Nov. 3, so they took advantage of calm conditions on the Western end of Lake Erie, and went out to chase smallmouth bass.
Read Gallagher's Full Account on In-Fisherman
"With an abundance of baitfish and unique bottom composition located after long days behind the graphs, we dropped down our forward-facing sonar and we were able to individually target these pelagic-esk smallmouth," he shared. "On what turned out to be the most memorable cast of my life, my bait got hit before it even hit the bottom and my rod quickly doubled over. I honestly thought I had hooked into a sheephead and not a smallmouth. We quickly learned we had just caught the smallmouth of a lifetime."
Realizing the significance of the catch, the anglers got on the phone to find out what exactly needed to be done for it to be considered for the record books. Gallagher's smallmouth is one of the largest ever caught … anywhere. The all-tackle world record recognized by the International Game Fish Association is 11 pounds, 15 ounces, caught by David Hayes July 9, 1955, on Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee.
“Being able to experience this with my son who has become the captain of the boat and a much better fisherman than me, made it even more special,” Gallagher said.
Ross Robertson of Bigwater Fishing, a lifelong friend of Gallagher's, posted a video of the catch and an interview with the anglers on his YouTube channel. The video shows the hook-up, fight and boating of the fish, and the anglers' euphoric reaction afterward. "Dad, what did you just catch?" Grant is heard saying in the video, as the anglers expressed their amazement at its size.