New Benchmarks Set For GON Lake & River Records
With missing records in several lakes and rivers, anglers are encouraged to go fishing and set a mark to get records established and rolling.
As fishing season heats up, there’s been a flurry of interest from anglers looking to put their names on GON’s Georgia Lake and River Records list in the last week or so. As a result, GON recently initiated new benchmark systems so all anglers will know if they have a fish that can be considered for record status.
“We’re glad anglers can at least enjoy being on the water during this strange time when so many are still out of work because of COVID-19,” said Daryl Kirby, GON’s publisher. “Even in the middle of this pandemic, we’re thrilled that anglers have their sights set on earning their place in Georgia fishing history by breaking a lake or river record.”
GON’s first publishing of “Lake Records” was released on March 1, 1990. That first publishing included 18 public reservoirs. Today, GON keeps records on 51 different lakes and rivers.
“With an increased interest in the records, our staff came together and agreed it was time to implement an official benchmark system that will allow anglers to know what size fish is expected to make the records list,” said Daryl.
“Benchmark records” are an effort to get ongoing records established. Once benchmark records have been publicized, it doesn’t take long for exceptional fish to overtake those records, and over time the records become credible.
The benchmark system that will now be used going forward for all bodies of water and all new fish species will be the minimum weights (not lengths) that have been established in WRD’s Georgia Angler Award Youth Program.
“We went with WRD’s Youth Program list because it offered what we believe are not only quality weights but weights not way out of reach,” said Daryl. “We want our folks to look at the new benchmarks and be encouraged to fill in some of the gaps we have on our list. For example, we don’t have bluegill records on Lake Oconee or Lake Blackshear, and there’s a vacancy for largemouth bass on Bartletts Ferry, among a number of others. We want anglers to know those goals are reachable.
“For our current records that are below the new benchmarks, those fish will remain on the list. Anglers who catch a heavier species, but still don’t meet the benchmark, those new fish will be recognized.”
GON recently added 900-acre Banks Lake in Lakeland to GON’s Georgia Lake and River Records listings.
“We’ve added a new benchmark for what we’ll consider for new bodies of water, as well,” said Daryl. “We like to see lakes be 500 acres in size and rivers at least 75 miles long. We love compiling these records and keeping up with them, but we have to put a fence around it at some point.”
Greg Waters is the first angler to meet a benchmark species on Banks Lake. On April 25, Greg Waters caught a flier that weighed 4.32-ozs., just above the 4-oz. benchmark. Greg was fishing with Bill Prince when he set the record.
“Greg was throwing a Beetle Spin with a silver spinner and a red-and-white skirt when he caught the flier and several bluegill,” said Bill.
“I think the decision y’all made about having a defined minimum size for new records for both water and species is a wonderful idea. I looked over the chart and found it to be more than fair, very good starting points for records.”
The biggest detail folks miss with getting a fish on GON‘s records list is not having it weighed on a set of scales that have been certified by the Department of Agriculture.
“Those scales are what brings credibility to the records,” said Daryl. “I’m thankful for those with meat markets, hardware stories and tackle shops who are willing to allow our GON community to bring in their fish for official weights. Without those people, it would be difficult for our anglers to get their fish recognized.”
These days many lake-record fish are released alive after being weighed and verified.
“We also have a number of WRD fisheries biologists who work closely with us on these records. They take great pride in the lakes and rivers in their regions, and when a record-class fish is caught, they want it recognized,” said Daryl.
Requirements For Record Fish
• Fish must be caught legally by rod and reel in a manner consistent with state game and fish regulations.
• Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present, who must be willing to provide their names and phone numbers so they can be contacted to verify the weighing of the fish.
• Witnesses to the weighing must be at least 18 years old, and they must not be members of the angler’s immediate family nor have a close personal relationship with the angler.
• Catch must be positively identified by qualified DNR personnel.
GON’s records are compiled and maintained by GON, to be awarded at GON’s discretion. Additional steps may be required for record consideration.
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