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Jeff
JEFF
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Scattershooting

The Year of the Big Fish

Wed, July 05, 2017

bass illinois hybrid record

The best year for record fish in Illinois history added yet another chapter in June.

While a possible tiger muskie record was knocked out of contention following genetic testing, Robert Vericella of Bloomington caught a hybrid striper that did qualify as an Illinois best.

Fishing at Lake Bloomington on June 12, Vericella hooked into a fat fish that weighed 21 pounds, 7.2 ounces on a certified scale. That topped the prior record from Lake of Egypt – a 20-pound, 0.32-ounce chunk caught by David Gjelsvik in 1993.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources biologist Mike Garthaus confirmed the fish.

“We did not do a genetic test since pure striped bass have never been stocked in the lake or any nearby waters and we haven’t stocked pure stripers in the state much since 2000, for various reasons,” said Illinois fisheries chief Dan Stephenson.  “Also the meristic and morphological characteristics are that of a hybrid not a pure.”

Bloomington Lake has a reputation for a good population of hybrid stripers and summer can be a good time to catch them. Popular lures include blade baits, jigs and large rattling minnow baits.

The lake also features an excellent population of walleye, very good fishing for black and white crappie and good largemouth bass and channel catfish prospects.

While Bloomington Lake does have a public boat launch, there is a fee to use the ramp and fish. The City of Bloomington sell’s boat stickers. There is also a 40 hp outboard motor restriction. To learn more, call (309) 434-2161.

Vericella’s fish marks the seventh state record of 2017 – far and away the most recorded in one year.

“Normally we average roughly one state record per year so 2017 is definitely an outlier!” Stephenson said.
 
Less lucky was last month’s apparent record tiger muskie caught by Terry Livingston Sr. at the Goose Lake subdivision in Grundy County.

Genetic testing showed that Lexington’s fish was a pure muskie, according to Stephenson.

“It was a pure muskie not a tiger. I hated to hear that. It was beautiful fish and looked like a tiger to me but again, that’s why we do the testing,” Stephenson said. “[Biologist] Rob Miller has been in contact with the angler to let him know. He was understandably disappointed but still happy with the fish. 36 pounds 0.4 ounces is a very nice muskie in anybody’s book.”

The record from last month that was confirmed was Dan Norris’s 3.3-pound brown bullhead (right) caught at the Emiquon Preserve.

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