Angler Catches Ultra Rare “Golden” Smallmouth Bass

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Angler Catches Ultra Rare Smallmouth Bass

Josh Chrenko is no stranger to smallmouth bass. In fact, many readers might recognize Josh as one of the hosts (alongside Chris Vaughan) of the popular Smallie Talk podcast.

Chrenko’s fishing journeys have taken him from Minnesota to Virginia, though the truly elusive fish Chrenko has been chasing – what he considers his “holy grail” specimen – is a 23-inch smallmouth caught on a river.

While Chrenko’s Quest for 23 remains his ultimate smallmouth goal, he recently garnered national attention after landing a fish that is every bit as rare.

Landing a “Golden” Smallmouth Bass

While fishing on the Muskegon River near Newaygo, Michigan, Chrenko connected with a fish that is, statistically, among the rarest in the country.

Chrenko immediately consulted a friend who works as an ecologist for the state of Indiana and found out that the “golden” hue of this smallmouth bass is due to a condition known as Xanthochromism (or “Xanthism”). The condition causes fish to carry an abnormally yellowish pigmentation. He also learned that the majority of fish with this condition are caught on Muskegon.

“There must be something in the gene pool,” Chrenko noted.

In the case of a smallmouth with xanthochromism, the usual red hues and brown hues are replaced with yellows, giving the fish its gilded coloration.

“This Fish Had to be Resilient”

Video via Josh Chrenko

After producing more than one hundred episodes of Smallie Talk and traveling across a quarter of the nation searching for noteworthy smallmouth, Chrenko has seen them come in all shapes and sizes. That said, despite his experience, his golden smallmouth was completely unexpected.

“I’m well connected within the smallmouth community and never saw anything quite like this,” Chrenko said.

Another friend (a fish biologist) informed Chrenko that “in nature, there’s about a 1-in-10,000 chance of even being born with xanthochromism.”

Considering the fact that this was a mature fish, Chrenko was impressed.

Rare Gold Smallmouth Bass
Photo via Josh Chrenko

“This fish had to be resilient,” he noted, suggesting that it stood out for years among fellow “black” bass that are known for their earthy tones, thus making his catch a prime target for predators.

While this may not have been the once-in-a-lifetime fish Chrenko had in mind, he remains excited to have caught a specimen few will ever see up close.

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