Tennessee Spotted Bass Record Confirmed

Wesley Strader with his spotted bass confirmed as a new state record on Dec. 10, 2010.

More than four months after a spotted bass weighing 6 pounds, 7 ounces was caught on the Ocoee River in Polk County, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has confirmed the fish as a new state record.

Wesley Strader, from Spring City Tenn. caught the fish July 30, 2010 on the Ocoee below Parksville Reservoir. The agency delayed the record fish certification because of recent research that has raised questions about the species status of spotted bass. It was declared a state record on Dec. 10.

TWRA currently recognizes two sub-species of spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus) in Tennessee: the Northern spotted bass and the Alabama spotted bass. Yet, the latest taxonomic research is calling for the latter to be its own species, the Alabama bass (Micropterus henshelli). TWRA was considering adding this new species to the list of species that would be recognized in its state record fish program. However, the state record fish application reads "only species recognized by the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) will be considered for Tennessee state record certification."

The TWRA Fisheries Division contacted the IGFA and they indicated that at this time they only recognize the Alabama spotted bass under the "Spotted Bass" category and do not recognize the "Alabama bass" as a separate species.

TWRA had tissue samples from Mr. Strader's spotted bass genetically analyzed and the results indicated that the fish was an Alabama spotted bass or Alabama Bass, depending on name preference.

"Mr. Strader's bass is a record regardless of which species or sub-species it is listed under. If the IGFA determines that it is a separate species at a later date then we will act accordingly," said Bobby Wilson, TWRA's Chief of Fisheries. Wesley's Strader's 6-pound, 7-ounce spotted bass breaks the former record of 5 pounds, 14 ounces caught by Jack Paul Watson on Dec. 31, 2008. Mr. Watson's fish was also an Alabama spotted bass caught in Parksville Reservoir.

Alabama spotted bass are not known to be outside of the Ocoee (Parksville) watershed in Tennessee. The TWRA did not stock Alabama spotted bass in Tennessee. It is believed that they were illegally stocked by anglers. Stocking public waters with any fish species is illegal and can damage existing fisheries.

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