COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 10.15-pound smallmouth bass caught in the Ontario, Canada waters of Lake Erie in November 2022 was a 16-year-old female, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The record fish is the only known 10-pound smallmouth bass caught in a Great Lakes state or province.
On November 3, 2022, Gregg Gallagher of Fremont, Ohio, caught the 10.15-pound smallmouth bass while fishing in Ontario provincial waters of Lake Erie. That fish was larger than the previous Ontario record, a 9.84-pound bass caught in 1984, and larger than Ohio’s current smallmouth bass record, a 9.5-pound fish. The new Ontario provincial record was weighed soon after the catch on a certified scale in Port Clinton.
The fish was transferred to the Division of Wildlife’s Sandusky Fisheries Research Station for species identification validation and measurements. The fish was measured as 23¾ inches in length and 19⅜ inches in girth. The Division of Wildlife recently sampled the record bass and determined it to be a 16-year-old female that was hatched in 2006. The fish was aged by analyzing its otoliths, inner-ear structures that develop annuli much like the rings on a tree. It is rare for a smallmouth bass to exceed 14 years of age.
Division of Wildlife fish management staff routinely survey smallmouth bass in Lake Erie to aid in population monitoring. Smallmouth bass captured in these surveys are typically less than 20 inches and weigh fewer than 7 pounds. The bass caught by Gallagher surpassed the size of all surveyed fish.
Lake Erie hosts excellent smallmouth bass fishing throughout the year. The best locations are usually rocky humps or points along island or mainland shorelines, as well as offshore reefs and break walls around marinas or river mouths. Smallmouth bass spawn in late spring, and to reduce fishing pressure on bass there is a daily harvest limit on Lake Erie of one bass from May 1 to June 23, 2023, with an 18-inch minimum size. Outside of this timeframe, the daily limit for smallmouth bass is five, with a 14-inch minimum size.
Lake Erie fishing reports, information on Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, maps, and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov. The current fishing regulations can be found on the HuntFish OH app, at wildohio.gov, or locations where fishing licenses are sold.