Two brothers, two days, two Illinois state record redhorses

This story is a few years old (the following is based on Dale Bowman’s report in the Chicago Sun-Times on May 14, 2008, linked below), but it’s a beauty:

Brothers Andrew and John Chione were fishing the Fox River west of Chicago in 2008 for carp, catfish and anything else that would bite. On April 24th,13-year-old John caught a 25.5 inch, 6.71 pound silver redhorse, got it weighed on a certified scale and had the ID confirmed by an Illinois fisheries biologist. Pretty cool? The next day—the VERY next day, and in the same area of the river—his15-year-old brother caught a 21 inch, 3.74 pound shorthead.

For my money, however, the best part of the story is that they knew what they had caught. It’s a rare fisherman who knows the difference between redhorse species. In fact, most probably don’t know there are multiple species of redhorse and can’t reliably see the differences between redhorses and other suckers. I’ve watched clearly skilled anglers kill suckers in the mistaken belief that they were carp. But when John caught the record silver, he knew what it was and he knew the existing record. Bowman quotes him as saying “‘We go through a lot of DNR magazines and remembered the record was around 5 pounds.'” Icing on the fishcake is Andrew’s comment regarding his record shorthead: “‘I knew it what it was. We caught the species before. I knew what the record was.'”

Bowman shares my feelings about this: “What I find most interesting is how sharp the brothers were. They knew the species of redhorse (something I normally have to look up)
and that they were Illinois records.”

The Illinois shorthead record is beatable. I’ve caught specimens longer than and very close to the weight of Andrew’s fish. Hook an egg-laden female during the spawn and you could fairly easily have a state record fish.

To see the photos and read the whole story, see http://blogs.suntimes.com/bowman/2008/05/oh_brother_record_shorthead_su.html

December Redhorse Dorsal

a dorsal fin

Got out fishing in a favorite creek today, and though it’s December 2nd, for a while a long-sleeved t-shirt was too warm. For the first time in months, a sucker was caught. I’d really hoped to get one more before snow, ice and holidays derailed my fishing.

The rock bass were on fire, including one that missed becoming the new Illinois state record (1 pound, 10 ounces) by only a few ounces. Largest rock bass I’ve ever seen.

Caught: rock bass (at least a dozen), several bluegills, two green sunfish, many largemouth and smallmouth bass, a yellow bullhead and A REDHORSE! It was a golden (m. erythrurum) but with every golden there’s always the hope that it will turn out to be a black (m. duquesnei). Lateral line scale count (43) indicates golden, dorsal ray count (15) is high for a golden and at the top end for a black. Mouth could go either way, depending on how wishfully I’m thinking. But the caudal peduncle isn’t particularly skinny (if you’ll pardon the scientific jargon), and the pelvic fin ray count, as near as I can tell from the photos that show that fin, is not 10.

Spotted but not caught: several very large hogsuckers and one tiny one, two buffalo (not sure which species), quillbacks, many redhorses (of at least 2 species), several fairly large common carp, and innumerable minnows.

Northern Illinois Greater Redhorse, April 2012

How often do you get to meet a new fishing buddy, discover half a dozen excellent multi-species fishing spots within an hour of home, sample the fish resident in those new locations while learning a bit about handling several different types of seines, learn a bit about photo tanks and fish photography, and see and handle dozens of new fish species, including one that’s listed as endangered in the state?

Not very often.

In April I had one of those days when good planning led to an experience that exceeded the daydreams leading up to it. Continue reading