For decades Lake Erie on the U.S.-Canada border has been a hotspot for big smallmouth bass, The 4th largest Great Lake sprawling across the northern international border has lots of healthy and fat fish, and now it can boast of smallmouth bass of near world-record book proportions.
This was proven recently with a 10.15-pound smallmouth caught by angler Gregg Gallagher on Nov. 3 on the Canadian side of Lake Erie. Reportedly this is only the fourth smallmouth weighing over 10 pounds ever documented.
The IGFA All-Tackle record for the species is 11-pounds, 15-ounces from Lake Dale Hollow in 1955 by angler David Hayes. Only one other smallmouth over 10 pounds is recorded by IGFA in its record book, a 10.5-pounder from Hendricks Creek, Kentucky in 1986.
For largemouth bass fans, a smallmouth bass of this size is the near equivalent of catching a 20-pound largemouth bass (record weight of 22-pounds, 4-ounces).
“On Nov 3rd my son Grant and I, both teachers, woke up with a surprise day off due to fog,” Gregg posted on his son Grant’s Facebook page about their fishing trip. “The flat calm conditions were the perfect situation for our Bass Cat boat to travel wherever we desired on the western end of Lake Erie. The goal was to catch a giant smallmouth bass 7-pounds or better.”
The Gallagher father-son fishing team has spent lots of time learning about Erie’s smallmouths, their habits and locations.
“It all paid off when he located what we both knew was a unique and likely unfished spot,” said Gregg. “With an abundance of baitfish located and a unique bottom content found via long days behind the graphs, we dropped down our forward-facing sonar and was able to individually target these pelagic smallmouth.”
Gregg made a cast, and his lure was hit before hitting bottom. His rod doubled over battling the bass.
“I honestly thought I had hooked into a sheepshead and not a smallmouth,” he explained. “We quickly learned we had just caught the smallmouth of a lifetime.”
Scales in their boat showed the fish was at least 9 pounds, and after a series of phone calls they arranged meeting with Travis Hartman of the Ohio DNR for proper weighing and certification of the giant smallmouth. The fish weighed 10.15-pounds, with a 23.75-inch length and a 19.375-inch girth.
Gregg says once all paper has been filed, it will be the Ontario Province record smallmouth, breaking a 68-year-old Canadian record.
A video of the catch was made, and an interview with the anglers has been posted on YouTube.
“I think the video of both of us screaming like school girls over what ended up being the largest documented smallmouth ever caught on the Great Lakes says it all,” writes Gregg on Facebook. “The ability to do it with my son who has become the Captain of the boat and a much better fisherman than me, made it even more special.”