Illinois State Record Crappie and the Power of Old News

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If You Read it on the Internet…

If you are even remotely connected to the world of crappie fishing on Facebook or other social media platforms, you probably saw the following photo circulating around your timeline every couple days in late 2020:

New Ohio State Record Crappie
No, this was not a new Ohio state record crappie

The captions varied every week or so, but the gist was that someone had landed this 5-pound, 21-inch crappie somewhere in Ohio. Early iterations of the post claim that the poster’s “buddy” was the one who caught the fish.

As with most social media posts depicting an impressive fish, loads of congratulations poured in. Eventually, a few comments about it being the new Ohio state record followed. Debates then heated with naysayers – often from Ohio themselves – claiming that there was no proof this fish had come from the Buckeye State.

…and they were right!

At the end of the day, yes, this is an absolutely beautiful fish. But the spread of misinformation has become an epidemic of its own on social media.

If It’s New to You…

In early March 2021, another massive crappie began circulating around social media. This time, the angler, fish size, and location were abundantly clear.

Photos of Ryan Povolich holding what was being called a “certified Illinois state fishing record” spread across every crappie page and group on social media. His monstrous fish weighed 4 pounds, 8.8 ounces, with a length of 18 3/4 inches. This would be heavy enough to easily displace both the longstanding Illinois white (4 pounds, 7 ounces by Kevin Dennis in 1973) and black (4 pounds, 8 ounces by John Hampton in 1976) crappie state records.

The problem, however, is that these posts were presented as “breaking news.”

In reality, Povolich caught this mammoth crappie on March 28, 2017!

Perhaps a bigger concern, however, is the fact that many posts suggested this catch would displace Hampton’s 1976 black crappie record.

Illinois DNR research showed that the crappie was actually a hybrid (with a black crappie as its mother and either a hybrid or white crappie as the father). Thus, Povolich’s fish slightly edged out the previous Illinois hybrid state record crappie by just half an ounce. To date, both Dennis and Hampton’s white and black Illinois state crappie records still stand, defying the test of time.

Ultimately, the fact that four years passed between the catch and the sharing spree does not diminish the fact that this is one of the largest crappie any human will ever catch. We all love seeing a massive slab on our timelines – it reminds us that they do exist and gives us a reason to justify spending so much time and money chasing them.

If you happen to have been duped into thinking this was a recent catch, don’t feel bad. You certainly are not alone!

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