JEFFERSON CITY, Mo - Missouri anglers are off to a running start for 2009, having set half the number of records normally recorded in one year.
The year was barely a month old when Perry May, Dexter, gigged a 2-pound northern hog sucker from the Current River in Ripley County. The fish measured 17 inches from nose to tail. That is considerably smaller than the 3-pound, 5-ounce pole-and-line record, leaving plenty of opportunity for someone else to better the new "alternative methods" mark.
Brian A. Clapp, of Butler, was fishing in a Bates County farm pond when he hooked a 1-pound, 7-ounce yellow perch that measured 13 inches. Missouri has no alternative-methods record for yellow perch. This category includes gigging, bowfishing and the use of trotlines, pole and bank lines and other set lines.
Missouri is near the southern limit of the yellow perch's natural range. The species can exceed 2 pounds but seldom grows much over 1 pound, even in the heart of its range in the upper Midwest.
Fisheries Programs Supervisor Rich Wehnes maintains fishing records for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He said he normally records four or five records a year, but some years are exceptional.
"I am not sure how many records were set in 1996 and 2002," said Wehnes, "but we still have seven on the books for each of those years."
Record-setting started fast in 2002, with three established by the end of March (largemouth bass, white bass and paddlefish). After that the pace slowed, with one record each being set in May (common carp), September (smallmouth bass), October (striped bass) and November (grass carp). With the exception of pole-and-line records for white bass and grass carp, the remaining five records in 2002 were set in the alternative methods category.
"That year really showed you can set a fishing record any time of the year," said Wehnes.