Crappie Records And How To Beat Them (Maybe!)
By Mike Rustler, Author of The Mega Guide to Crappie Fishing
Want to know about the world’s record crappie? Here are the stories of these monster fish – and hints of even bigger ones!
Every fisherman must have dreamed, at least once, about landing a record specimen.
Catching the biggest recorded fish of any species is one of the greatest achievements you can manage as an angler; fish keep growing throughout their lives so the biggest fish are the oldest ones, and they’re usually too cunning and experienced to be easily hooked.
If you have the skill and perseverance you’re in with a chance of doing it though.
Whatever the current record, the odds are that there’s a heavier fish out there somewhere and some day he might just be sniffing around your hook.
Most anglers find that as they gain skill the average size of the fish they catch increases. That’s because they learn how, where and when to present a bait or lure that can trick the bigger specimens.
As your personal record creeps towards the world record you know you’re doing something right, so it’s worth knowing what the goal is.
For white crappie the current world record is a 5 pound 3 oz (2.3kg) fish caught by Fred Bight in 1957. Fred’s achievement is a great reminder that crappie fishing is a year-round sport; they’re most active in spring and fall, but the record-breaker was caught on July 31. The site of the catch was near the Enid Dam on Mississippi’s Yacona River; the dam was built just five years before Fred took his monster fish. Enid Lake is a popular fishing spot, and who knows what’s lurking beneath the surface?
The record black crappie is slightly smaller, and a lot more recent – John Horstman caught a 5 pound fish in a private lake in Missouri on April 21, 2006. Getting a record breaking fish in April is a real win – they’re usually just starting to put weight on again after the winter.
Even if your personal best falls short of the world record, national or state records are still a goal worth aiming for. In December 2013 Andy Moore hooked a 19-inch-long black crappie in a lake near Omaha. Photos he took of it suggest it weighed close to 5 pounds; the state record was 4 pounds 13 oz. To verify it as a record would probably have meant killing it though, and Andy didn’t want to do that so he released it again. At its full weight in late spring that fish could be a world record beater – the monsters really are out there.
Andy Moore’s big fish raises a good point about records. They can’t be verified by measurement or photographs; the fish has to be weighed on certified scales at an approved location. Your local Game and Parks department can advise you where to go if you think you’ve landed a record specimen. If you plan to return the fish you’ll need to have a holding tank in your vehicle so it survives the trip.
How can you maximize your chances of hooking a record crappie? It’s simple – learn your fish. If you know the crappie’s habits inside out you’ll know where to place your hook to get the most active feeders, and when to do it. If you’re after a record warm weather is your best time, especially around spawning.
Stick to live baits or small lures; bigger lures won’t attract bigger fish. Talk to other anglers as well and take note of where and how they’ve found the biggest fish, and use fish locators to let you plan your casts. Like anything else in fishing your chances are improved if you make a bit of an effort to do it right, but if you do manage to land a record fish it will be the high point of your angling career.
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