Tucker Martin, a 17-year-old fisherman plying the Chipola River in northwest Florida earlier this month, hooked and landed a new state record shoal bass that weighed 4 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 20.3 inches long.
According to the Washington County News, Martin was fishing from the bank with his friend on March 8th at around 5 p.m. when he cast a spinner bait under a bridge and initially thought he hooked a spotted or largemouth bass.
He and his grandfather, Edgar, met with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regional biologist Chris Paxton at a nearby market to have the fish species verified and weigh it on certified scales. When it was all said and done, Martin’s shoal bass beat out the previous state record by 6 ounces.
Shoal bass are one of five other black bass species native to Florida—the other four being largemouth, Choctaw, spotted and Suwanee bass, though none are as widespread, or grow as large, as largemouth bass. Because of that fact, the FWC is considering new rules to help foster populations of the lesser bass species and soliciting public input for the new rules, which would go into effect in July, 2016.
Aside from having his name in the record books, Martin will also receive a “Big Catch” certificate from the state—an award given to any angler that catches a shoal or spotted bass heavier than 2 pounds or longer than 16 inches, or a Suwanee bass heavier than 1.5 pounds or longer than 14 inches. Anglers can also earn recognition for a “Black Bass Slam,” which includes catching a largemouth, spotted, shoal and Suwanee bass in Florida within a one-year period.
“Whereas central Florida is especially renowned for trophy largemouth, the Florida Panhandle has numerous species of uniquely evolved black bass that we are proud to promote and manage,” Paxton said. “It was a delight getting to document another state record from this area.”