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2019 was a pretty wild year for fishing!
From the Major League Fishing acquisition of Fishing League Worldwide to the announcement of the National Professional Fishing League, countless college and high school teams hitting the regional and national circuits, and thousands of online groups and forums dedicated to the sport, one could argue that the fishing industry has never been hotter.
Outside the glitz and glamour of the high-profile tournament circuits and bizarre world of fishing stories, however, millions of anglers hit the water in 2019 simply for the love of fishing.
Unsurprisingly, these are the individuals who secured themselves a state record catch.
When it comes to state fishing records, 2019 stayed the course in many regards. Quite a few states have seen longstanding state records fall. Conversely, others started and ended the year with all records intact.
Also, given the rise of catch-and-release state records and alternative method records, many anglers earned a well-deserved spotlight.
As we say goodbye to the final year of the decade, let’s take a look back at some of the freshwater state record fish caught in 2019!
Illinois State Record Smallmouth Bass: Joe Capilupo
For anyone who has followed the fishing scene in 2019, this catch was obviously going to make the list!
It goes without saying that one of the most shared stories in the fishing community was Joe Capilupo’s Illinois state record smallmouth bass.
The fish was covered by major industry and mainstream news sources and was recently named “Fish of the Year” by the Chicago Sun Times.
While fishing in October with friends Myles Cooke and Jonny Pitelka on Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago, Capilupo caught one of the most gorgeous smallmouths you’re ever going to see.
Using a Z-Man Finesse TRD and a St. Croix Bass Mojo Casting Rod, Capilupo’s landed a catch that officially weighed in at 7 lbs 3 oz. This shattered the previous record owned by Mark Samp, which was set in 1985.
Kentucky State Record Largemouth Bass: Mark Ward
Speaking of impressive state record bass, one Kentucky angler joins the list in a big way.
In April, Mark Ward broke a longstanding record while fishing Highsplint Lake.
Ward was fishing with his wife and 9-month-old, targeting 4 lb bass in the lake. Fortunately, what he ended up landing was much bigger.
On Good Friday, Ward landed a largemouth that weighed 14 lbs 9.5 oz. The monster measured 26.8 inches in length and had a girth of 22.5 inches.
Ward’s catch displaces the previous Kentucky Largemouth State Record caught in 1984 by Dale Wilson by nearly a full pound.
Idaho State Record (Catch-and-Release) Gerard Rainbow Trout: Sophie Egizi
Many anglers spend a lifetime trying to land a state record fish. While few will ever land their proverbial white whale, stories like this will warm even the most jaded fishing heart.
While a Gerrard Rainbow Trout might not top every angler’s bucket list, the fact that this monster was brought in by an 8-year-old girl is pretty awesome!
In the photo above, Sophie Egizi doesn’t look much bigger than the whopper fish she landed. Her catch, which measured at 36.5 inches, qualified as Idaho’s catch-and-release state record Gerrard Rainbow Trout.
We can only imagine this will be the first of many amazing catches for the young angler.
Minnesota State Record (Catch-and-Release) Muskie: Corey Kitzmann
Perhaps the only thing more inspiring than Corey Kitzmann’s Minnesota Catch-and-Release state record muskie are the circumstances surrounding it.
Corey was fishing Minnesota’s Lake Vermillion alone after receiving news of the passing of a friend at age 40.
A nearby boater spotted Kitzmann’s fight with the massive muskie — a 57 1/4 inch, 47 pound monster whose girth measured 25 1/2 inches.
The nearby boater assisted Kitzmann in securing and releasing the fish.
He also helped Kitzmann in snapping a few photos that will surely allow the memories of this catch to last a lifetime.
Utah State Record Golden Trout: Isaac Vance
He may not be eight years old, but Isaac Vance joins the list of young anglers who were doing fishing right in 2019.
At just thirteen years of age, Vance knocked off the previous Utah golden trout state record. His catch, measuring 14 7/8 inches and weighing 1 lb 2.88 oz, overthrew Breck Tuttle’s longstanding record which was caught in 1977.
The new Utah state record was caught on Marsh Lake in October.
Idaho State Record (Catch-and-Release) Largemouth Bass: JJ Schillinger
Here’s another catch-and-release state record from Idaho, but this time it’s considerably larger.
This record bass was caught by JJ Schillinger back in October while he was competing in the Panhandle Bass Anglers Fall Open on Cave Lake near Coeur d’Alene.
Schillinger’s catch-and-release record measured 25 inches and weighed 9.7 lbs (and, to be fair, the fish in the photo above could pass as considerably heavier).
Schillinger’s catch ousted the previous record, held by Dale Stratton. Interestingly enough, Stratton was the owner of two consecutive Idaho catch-and-release largemouth state records.
Colorado State Record Bluegill: Gregory Wallace
For most anglers, bluegill are the species that start our fishing journeys. While many venture off to bigger, more exciting bites there’s still something fun about catching a slew of the feisty panfish.
If all bluegill looked like the one Gregory Wallace caught back in June, however, bluegill fishing would probably get a lot more coverage.
At 2 lbs 9 oz, Wallace’s catch is the proverbial “football.”
Caught while Wallace was fishing on Totten Reservoir, the new Colorado State Record bluegill surpasses its predecessor (which was caught in 2014 at the Comanche Power Plant) by over four ounces.
For perspective, the current world record bluegill, caught in 1947, weighed an unbelievable 4 lbs 10 oz.
West Virginia State Record Chain Pickerel: Matt Born
The sole entry from West Virginia this year comes from Matt Born.
An avid angler who had been in pursuit of a state record from some time, Born finally brought in the fish he had been waiting for in October.
As West Virginia offers certified state records for both length and weight, Born had two chances to land himself in the record books.
His catch measured 27.87 inches, slipping past the previous record’s length by .12 inches.
Steve Denma still owns the West Virginia chain pickerel state record for weight, however, with a catch of 6.19 lbs in 2001.
Washington State Record Channel Catfish: Cole Abshere
For our fellow anglers who have spent decades on the water and are already feeling bummed out after seeing some youngsters from around the country land state record fish, well…
As if to prove spending hundreds on expensive rigs, fish finders, and apparel may be overrated, Abshere hauled his state record fish in on a “simple pole,” a night crawler, and 8 lb line.
Florida State Record Flathead Catfish: Marvin Griffin
Between 2011 and 2016, Marvin Griffin’s uncle held the Florida State Record for flathead catfish.
In 2016, Charles Junior Patchen claimed the new record by catching a 63.8 lb catfish while fishing on the Chattahoochee River, effectively ousting Griffin’s uncle from the books.
Griffin did not expect that he was going to reclaim the state record for his family while fishing the Yellow River with a friend this summer, but that’s exactly what happened.
At an astounding 69.3 lbs, with a length of 47 inches and a girth of 34.25 inches, Griffin’s flathead catfish eclipses the previous record by almost five pounds.
Tennessee State Record Yellow Perch: Jeremy Lorenz
When looking at species like perch, state records are often broken by a mere matter of inches.
When Jeremy Lorenz caught the fish pictured above on Ocoee No. 3 Lake in Polk County, Tennessee, that was definitely the case.
The previous state record for yellow perch in Tennessee was a two-way tie with 2 lb 3 oz fish caught by both Trenton McCoy in 2017 and Richard Marsich in 2018.
At 2 lbs 5 oz, Lorenz’s catch secured the Tennessee State Record for yellow perch by two ounces.
Kansas State Bigmouth Buffalo: Trey Patterson
For Trey Patterson, landing the Kansas State Record for bigmouth buffalo in June was his second notable sporting achievement of 2019.
The previous month, Patterson claimed the Kansas 3A high school state javelin championship with a throw of 195 feet 10 inches.
While his fish isn’t quite as long as his javelin toss, it remains one of the largest state records set in 2019.
At 45 3/4 inches in length and weighing a whopping 66 lbs, Patterson’s catch comfortably surpasses the previous Kansas State Record for bigmouth buffalo.
The previous record — weighing 62 lbs and measuring 43 inches in length — was caught on Milford Reservoir in 2016 by David Barnes.
Missouri State Record Hybrid Striped Bass: Cesar Rodriguez
If you wanted to catch a state record fish in 2019, Missouri was the place to do it.
At a stout 21 lbs 11 oz, the new Missouri State Record hybrid striped bass earns its place in the books by over a full pound.
Like its predecessor, Cesar Rodriguez’s catch was pulled from Lake of the Ozarks. The previous state record, caught in 1986, was 20 lbs 8 oz.
The previous year, Rodriguez claims to have hauled in a 24 lb hybrid while fishing in Oklahoma but was unable to get the weight confirmed by a game warden.
Montana State Record Channel Catfish: John Smith
An extended fight in July initially had 40-year-old John Smith thinking he was battling with a walleye or a northern pike.
After his son helped him net the massive fish and secure it in the boat, reality quickly became clear — this one was special!
After maxing out the 28 lb scale in his boat, Smith called a friend to get the fish officially weighed in the event it might be a state record.
…and a state record it was!
At 35.18 lbs, Smith’s channel catfish edged out a 34.8 lb’er caught in 2013 as the new Montana State Record channel catfish.
The new record was caught on Castle Rock Lake.
Montana State Record Blue Sucker: Jason Karls
In April, 39-year-old Jason Karls added his name to the record books when he landed a whopper blue sucker.
While fishing the Marias River near Loma, Karls landed the new Montana State Record blue sucker — a 34 inch long, 13.29 lb whopper.
The previous state record, which was caught in 2014, was almost two pounds lighter.
Missouri State Record Brown Trout: Bill Babler
Missouri has had quite the year when it comes to state fishing records falling. It’s safe to say, however, that Bill Babler’s entry is one of the most impressive catches of 2019.
Caught on Lake Taneycomo in early September, Babler’s new Missouri state record brown trout weighed 40 lbs 6 oz.
That shatters the previous Missouri record, caught by Paul Crews on Lake Taneycomo several months before.
More impressive, however, is the fact that Babler’s brown trout is not terribly far off from the current world record, a 42 lb 1 oz leviathan caught by Otwin Kandolf of New Zealand.
Missouri State Record Brown Trout: Paul Crews
Flash back just a couple months, and the brown trout everyone in Missouri was talking about wasn’t caught by Bill Babler.
2019’s first Missouri state record-breaking brown trout was caught in February by Paul Crews.
Unsurprisingly, both Crews’ and Babler’s fish were caught on Lake Taneycomo.
Crews’ catch weighed an impressive 34 lbs 10 oz, which shattered the previous record by over six pounds.
Equally impressive is that Crews managed to land this whopper using a jig and 4 lb test line. He also claims to usually fish once per year, during the Vince Elfrink Memorial Trout Tournament.
Missouri State Record White Perch, Sauger, and Skipjack: Bryant Rackers
We know how crazy it sounds, but Bryant Rackers is the owner of a quartet of certified Missouri state fishing records.
What’s crazier is that three of those fish were caught in 2019.
Now, are you ready for the real kicker?
Those three fish were caught in the span of one month!
Rackers’ run began on October 27, when he tied the state record skipjack at 3 lbs while fishing on the Missouri River.
In November, Rackers hauled in a 10 oz white perch. The following week, he landed a Missouri state record sauger (using a throwline) that weighed 2 lbs 1 oz.
North Dakota State Record Walleye*: Tom Volk
As you can see in the photo above, this is an absolutely mammoth walleye. At 16 lbs 9 oz, it eclipses the previous North Dakota state record by more than a full pound.
So, why the asterisk?
For a brief period, Tom Volk’s walleye, caught on the Heart River, garnered incredible attention. Numerous media outlets had covered the story and the fish had briefly earned the distinction as the new state record.
Following an investigation by North Dakota Game and Fish, however, it was determined the fish had either been snagged or foul-hooked. This violates the recreational fishing requirements for certifying new state records, thus disqualifying Volk’s entry.
As a result, the previous North Dakota state record (15.13 lbs, caught in 2018) was reinstated.
Iowa State Record Yellow Perch: Royce Krummen
When it comes to freshwater fish, there are few that are more colorful or visually stunning than the yellow perch.
For Royce Krummen, a farmer from Lake Park, Iowa, his February catch is about as pretty as they come!
While ice fishing on a private pond, Krummen landed a fish that just barely captured the crown as Iowa’s new state record yellow perch.
Krummen’s catch weighed in at 2.79 lbs and measured an impressive 16.4 in.
The previous record, caught in 2012, was 2.7 lbs and 16 in.
While this fish is certainly impressive, the world record — which has been standing since 1865 — weighed in at a ridiculous 4.3 lbs.
Delaware State Record Blue Catfish: Colt Williamson
This blue catfish caught in August looks to be almost the size of Delaware itself!
Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but this is still a pretty hefty fish!
Measuring 43 inches and weighing 47.75 lbs, Colt Williamson’s new Delaware state record blue catfish absolutely demolishes its predecessor.
Both fish were caught on the Nanticoke River. The previous record, caught by Jordan Chelton in 2017, weighed 36.32 lbs.
That sits Williamon’s new record catch at a comfortable 11 lb lead.
Texas Junior State Record Blue Catfish: Brayden Rogers
Texas bolstered an impressive 47 new state records across several divisions on 2019.
One of the most impressive catches was hauled in by 13-year-old Brayden Rogers.
While fishing Lake Tawakoni in March, Rogers managed to bring in a massive blue cat weighing 67.1 lbs.
This feat was enough to earn him the Texas Junior State Record.
His catch displaces a 66.2 lb blue catfish that was caught in 2011 on Lake Worth.
Pennsylvania State Record Lake Trout: Keith Miller
On this list, we’ve seen quite a few teenagers (and even children) who have managed to land impressive state record fish.
Flipping the script, there’s Keith Miller from Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. At the ripe age of 73, Miller landed the new Pennsylvania State Record Lake Trout.
After catching several in the 14 lb range, Miller (who was fishing an area of Lake Erie known as “The Mountain”) secured his new state record fish — and impressive 31 lb 13 oz whopper.
Miller’s catch tops the previous state record by over two pounds.
Pennsylvania State Record Flathead Catfish: Jeff Bonawitz
Pennsylvania was home to yet another impressive state record in 2019.
In April, Jeff Bonawitz landed the new Pennsylvania State Record Flathead catfish while fishing the Susquehanna River.
Bonawitz’s fish weighed a considerable 50 lbs 7 oz.
The fight lasted around 25 minutes.
Bonawitz was using 25 lb monofilament line and fishing in 22 feet of water.
Virginia State Record Brook Trout: Thomas Garth
Thomas Garth broke a 32-year-old Virginia state record in 2019.
Garth was fishing at Cub Run in Page County when he hauled in a fish that would become the new Virginia State Record brook trout.
The fish weighed in at 5 lbs 15 oz and measured 20 1/4 inches.
This narrowly slips past the previous state record — a 5 lb 10 oz brook trout caught by Greg Orndorff in 1987.
Georgia State Record Spotted Sunfish: Jacob Hornaday
Though it’s about as small as one can get for a certified state record, this Georgia spotted sunfish still counts!
In April, Jacob Hornaday brought in a beautiful 11 oz spotted sunfish while fishing a private pond.
His record surpasses the previous records of 10.24 oz (caught on the Satilla River in 2014 by Ryan Kersey) and 10 oz (caught on Brier Creek in 2003 by Mike Markovcic).
Georgia’s Wildlife and Resource Division specifies that new state records must surpass the previous record by at least one full ounce.
Fish certified at less than an ounce above the previous record will be considered a tie.
Utah State Record (Catch-and-Release) Lake Trout: Matt Smiley
For Colorado native Matt Smiley, who was fishing the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in May, the goal was simple: catch a fish that weighed over 50 lbs.
Having previously held a Colorado state record lake trout, Smiley pulled in a titanic catch — a lake trout weighing just shy of 53 lbs!
At the encouragement of his friend, Smiley also measured the fish.
At 48 inches long, Smiley’s catch easily qualified as the new Utah Catch-and-Release state record for lake trout.
As we’ve said before, always bring a scale. In this case, always make sure to have a tape measurer on hand, too.
North Carolina State Record Redbreast Sunfish: Alphonso Jackson
Admittedly, this is not the prettiest entry on the list. In June, the Charlotte Observer even called this an “ugly fish.”
But, a state record is still a state record!
In June, 43-year-old Alphonso Jackson and his children were having no luck fishing a private pond so they went to Lumber River, where he had learned to fish as a child.
There, he brought in the new North Carolina State Record redbreast sunfish.
His 2 lb 1 oz catch comfortably glides past the previous record by 5 ounces. That fish — a 1 lb 12 oz redbreast — was caught on Big Swamp by Ronald Stanley in 1983.
Nebraska State Record Tiger Trout: Scott McGuire
Caught in April, Scott McGuire’s impressive catch was good enough to earn the distinction as Nebraska’s new state record tiger trout.
Caught on North Platte River below Lake Ogallala, the new record fish measured 24 inches long and weighed in at 4 lbs 14 oz.
McGuire caught the fish on a fly.
An avid angler, he does not believe the record will hold for too long.
Nebraska began stocking the tiger trout in 2015 with the first certified state record registering at 15 oz.
The record jumped to 3 lbs 15 oz by August 2018 before being overtaken by McGuire’s 2019 catch.
Nebraska State Record Common Carp: Bob Busk
In an interview with The Washington County Pilot-Tribune and Enterprise, Bob Busk admitted that when he hauled in the common carp pictured above, he was initially disappointed.
He had been looking to land a wiper on a neighborhood lake and “another carp” wasn’t what the 54-year-old angler was hoping for.
At 34 lbs 13 oz, it didn’t take long for this monster carp to change Busk’s tone.
It secured its place as the new Nebraska state record common carp, displacing the previous record (caught in 1983) by over a pound.
Colorado State Record Blue Catfish: Randy Stillwell
Maybe the only thing more impressive than the sheer size of this fish is how beautiful the coloration is on those fins!
At 66-years-old, Randy Stillwell joins the list of anglers who landed a state record fish in 2019.
His blue catfish, which was caught on Lake Pueblo, weighed in at 29.132 lbs.
With a width of 38 5/8 inches and a girth of 25 inches, it easily finds its place at the new Colorado blue catfish state record.
The previous record, caught by Charlie Black in 2016, weighed 24.48 lbs and measured 35 1/2 inches in length.