No, There is Not a New Ohio State Record Crappie

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No, There is Not a New Ohio State Record Crappie

Everyone loves a good fishing story.

Most people who spend a decent amount of time on the water have a good fishing story.

And yes, let’s be honest: a lot of those stories are embellished.

And that’s perfectly fine. At the end of the day, choosing to spice up your own fishing story rarely ever harms anyone.

The problem comes, however, when a completely untrue story spreads like wildfire. Even worse is when someone spreads a false story for the sake of personal gain.

As you can probably tell from the header, this is one of those stories.

Social Media and the Mysterious Story of a Massive Ohio Slab

New Ohio State Record Crappie
The photo above has been circulating around the internet, suggesting this 5 pound, 21 inch crappie was recently caught in Ohio

Around the beginning of December 2020, a Facebook user (who will remain unnamed) began posting a photo in seemingly every crappie-based Facebook group imaginable with the following caption:

One of the largest crappies I have seen to date. 5lbs and 21 inches long that was caught in Ohio.

Harmless enough, right?

Sure, maybe. But the problem is that the story seems to be complete B.S. Moreover, dozens (and maybe even hundreds) of anglers are congratulating someone on a record-breaking fish that is, in fact, not a record breaking fish.

As anglers who spend a lot of time fishing for crappie in Ohio, this is especially frustrating.

Is the crappie in the photo above enormous? Absolutely! Even the best anglers in the country would be pleased to catch a slab that big. This thing would likely earn someone money in a tournament and, for most recreational anglers, would be the fish of a lifetime.

Now, is this crappie 5 pounds? Highly unlikely. A 5-pound black crappie is a state record in most parts of the country, and especially in the Midwest.

Is this crappie 21 inches long? Doubtful. That would put this fish among the longest black crappie ever recorded.

Was this crappie 5 pounds, 21 inches long, and caught in Ohio? Not a chance!

First, Let’s Look at the Ohio State Record Crappie

If you are familiar with Ohio’s state fishing records, you probably know that a 5 pound crappie would comfortably break the record.

As of December 2020, the longstanding Ohio state record for black crappie is 4.5 pounds, set in 1981 by Ronald Stone on a private lake.

Now, let’s compare this to the current world record black crappie, caught by Lionel “Jam” Ferguson.

World Record Black Crappie
The world record black crappie, caught by Lionel “Jam Ferguson” in May 2018

Ferguson caught the 5 pound, 7.68 ounce mammoth black crappie on Richeison Pond, Tennessee, back in May 2018.

Perspective in photos is important, but a quick eyeball test leads us to believe that the potential Ohio state record in question, while an impressive fish, isn’t within half a pound of the world record.

Using the Biblical Cubit to Determine Length

An imperfect but effective way for loosely estimating a fish’s length is using the Biblical cubit.

A measurement with origins dating back several thousand years, the Biblical cubit equates to roughly 17.6-17.64 inches. This is, on average, the expected distance from a man’s middle finger tip to his elbow.

Over the holidays, our staff decided to test this unit for accuracy.

Biblical Cubit_1
The first Biblical cubit measurement was slightly over 17 inches
Biblical Cubit_2
The second Biblical cubit measure was right at 17 inches

Now, you won’t want to use this informal measurement unit for any fish you’re looking to get certified, but it is helpful for determining an approximate length.

Next, since we do not know anything about the origins of this “potential state record fish coming out of Ohio,” let’s use the Biblical cubit on the original photo to see if the claim of 21 inches holds up.

New Ohio State Record Crappie_Measured2
Even with imperfect measurements, it does not appear this fish is even close to 21 inches

Admittedly, the proportions in this example are not perfect. That said, the length of the left bar (which extends down the man’s forearm) is the same exact length as the hand-and-forearm bar stretching across the length of the fish.

At the fish’s tail, we have also added a small rectangular blue bar to account for the discrepancy between the original bar’s length and the length of the crappie.

We also offered generous measurements on the fish, accounting for the length of a protruded bottom lip and a pinched tail.

So, Is There Any Chance This Could Be a New Ohio State Record Crappie?

Nope!

With even the most generous measurements, the fish in the photo above might be 19.5 inches.

Now, consider that in the two photos we added above, those measurements are from men who are roughly 6 feet tall. Assuming the arm in the photo belongs to an average (or even above-average) sized male, it is more likely this fish maxes out at around 18 inches.

Still an incredibly impressive crappie, but nowhere near the 21 inches promoted around social media.

Finally, if you follow crappie fishing — and especially if you fish in Ohio or the surrounding states — you know that massive slabs generate massive attention.

Mark Wilson’s 3.68 pound Truman Lake crappie drew massive attention.

So did a 4 pound slab caught in Arkansas by Sean Thornton.

Regardless of the actual stats on this particular fish, here’s the thing:

  • If it was that big, why have we heard nothing about it? No names? No other photos? No recognition? Who leaves bragging rights like this on the table?
  • Likewise, if it was that big, why has the Ohio Department of Natural Resources not heard about it? Who catches 5 pound, 21 inch crappies and doesn’t try to snag the state record?

Moral of the story? Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook!

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