FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky’s state record for a sauger-walleye hybrid fell on March 21 when Wolfgang Kratzenberg, of Verona, caught a saugeye out of Bullock Pen Lake that weighed 9.05 pounds.
Kratzenberg and his son, Geoffrey, were crappie fishing in the Grant County lake when the saugeye hit the father’s red and chartreuse tube jig. Kratzenberg first thought that he’d hooked a catfish or carp. When he saw splotches across the fish’s back, he realized that he had a saugeye on the end of the line.
“We didn’t have a net and I have this big fish on a crappie jig with hooks designed to straighten out when hung up,” he said. “Geoffrey tried to cradle it with a PFD (personal flotation device), but that didn’t work. I finally just wrestled it in and slung it in the boat. It was a fiasco situation for a bit.”
The fish measured 27 inches long and had a robust girth of 17.5 inches.
“Geoffrey looked it up on his phone and saw the record was 8 pounds, 8 ounces,” Wolfgang Kratzenberg said. “He told me, we might have a shot (at the record), this might be close.”
State record fish must be weighed on a scale certified for trade. The Kratzenbergs called 10 stores before they found a Costco willing to wheel their scales out to the parking lot to weigh the giant fish in front of an appreciative crowd. It weighed 9.05 pounds, besting Clay Smith’s 8-pound, 8.8-ounce state record saugeye caught from the Cumberland River in 2019.
Saugeye are a cross between walleye and sauger. The eggs for this fast-growing hybrid are fertilized at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery near Morehead before they are transported to the department’s Peter W. Pfeiffer Fish Hatchery near Frankfort for the fish to be reared to stocking size. Saugeye are tolerant of warmer water found in smaller lakes.
Kentucky began its saugeye stocking program in 2013. Bullock Pen was one of three lakes stocked that year. Currently, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife stocks eight lakes in the state with saugeye.
Early spring is a prime time to catch fish in Kentucky, as fish are hungry from overwintering and preparing to spawn.
As a reminder, the new license year started March 1 in Kentucky. Fishing and hunting licenses and permits are sold online through Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website (fw.ky.gov), by phone by calling 1-877-598-2401 and at vendor locations across the state. A list of license vendors by county is available on the department’s website.
The Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide, available in English and Spanish language versions, is available online and provides a wealth of information about license requirements as well as fishing and boating regulations. The printed English language version of the guide, available at hunting and fishing license vendors statewide, includes a QR code that links to the online Spanish version.
For more information about other lakes that hold populations of saugeye, and a snapshot of fishing opportunities at Kentucky’s major fisheries, please consult the 2021 Fishing Forecast and many other resources available at fw.ky.gov.