Vermont’s lakes and streams continue to produce amazing numbers of big fish year after year. In 2012, three new state records were established for burbot, channel catfish and pumpkinseed sunfish.
In February 2012, Swanton angler Brian LaBelle started the year off by catching a new state record through the ice, an 8.81-pound burbot from Lake Champlain. This is the second year in a row a new state record has been set for this species, and it is a testament to the increasing popularity of this tasty fish.
The burbot is the only freshwater member of the Cod family, and in Vermont they can be found in a number of the deep, cold Northeast Kingdom lakes such as Willoughby and Memphremagog, as well as Lake Champlain. Most anglers target burbot after dark with dead bait set on the bottom in 15 to 30 feet of water in areas adjacent to deeper water. The previous record burbot caught in February 2011 weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces.
In June 2012, Robert Scott of Poultney was fishing with a live golden shiner off his dock on Lake St. Catherine when he hooked into what proved to be the new state record channel catfish. The big cat measured 41-inches long and weighed a whopping 35 pounds, 15 ounces, besting the previous record by more than a pound.
A month later, another shore angler fishing from a popular location on Lake Bomoseen landed a pumpkinseed sunfish measuring 10.5-inches and weighing 1.25-pounds. Fourteen-year-old Logan Bathalon of Bomoseen was fishing from the Float Bridge with a worm and a bobber when he hooked the giant panfish, which weighed a full quarter pound more than the previous record pumpkinseed. As with LaBelle’s burbot, this was the second year in a row that the pumpkseed record was beaten.
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Shawn Good, who coordinates Vermont’s Record Fish Program, says it’s no surprise new records continue to be set every year.
“We’ve had a really good run of record breaking fish catches in Vermont,” said Good, “18 records set since 2001, and eight of them coming since 2010. No other state in the region can boast this many new state record fish over the same time period.”
What is even more encouraging is that 2012’s catches prove anglers don’t need fancy equipment or expensive boats for a chance at catching a state record fish.
“All three state record catches this year were caught either from shore or through the ice,” added Good. “Anglers just need to get outdoors with a rod and reel and spend time fishing. You never know what you’ll catch! It’s a great family activity and a great way for kids to decompress from their busy lives.”
The Vermont State Record Fish Program was established in 1969 and maintains a list of the largest fish caught from Vermont waters in the last 44 years. All records are available to the public on the Fish & Wildlife Department’s website. Records can be searched by waterbody, fish species, or year of entry.
These new state records are a testament to the great quality and diversity of fishing opportunities that are available to anglers in Vermont, so get out there and fish with your family and friends. You never know – you could set the next state record!
Logo courtesy Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department